If she could turn back time, what would the pop queen change? After decades of public heartbreak and career rebirths she's still as youthful as the day she first serenaded Sonny.
Cher’s career has lasted over forty years, first as a singer, then as a TV comedian and, later, as a mature and talented actress.
The young Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPierre was dragged out of her job as a studio back-up singer by crooner and music promoter Sonny Bono when she was just seventeen. Failing to impact as double act Caesar and Cleo, the tall, deadpan girl and the diminutive Bono gained huge popularity as Sonny & Cher, though each continued to occasionally record on their own. They ended up marrying in 1964.
Musically, the husband-wife team grew ever more popular with hits such as ‘I Got You Babe’ and ‘The Beat Goes On’. Changing musical tastes at the turn of the decade and financing flop films led to the couple becoming seriously in debt. The humiliation of the Lounge circuit finally evolved into Las Vegas appearances. Their onstage banter and lavish Bob Mackie costumes formed the basis of their TV show. The couple started to work on comedy sketches and ‘The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour’ debuted in 1971. It was a hit and ran for three years on US networks.
By 1974, Sonny and Cher split, both professionally and romantically. Cher returned to music and recorded a series of commercially successful pop albums. Sonny eased himself out of showbiz and into politics. Cher on the other hand remarried briefly, in 1975, to Greg Allman.
However, film was Cher’s passion of the 1980s and she worked hard on small parts, eventually winning Best Supporting Actress at the Academy Awards for her performance in ‘Silkwood’. Buoyed by her success, Cher was offered starring roles in ‘Mask’, ‘Suspect’ and ‘The Witches of Eastwick’. In 1988 she won the Academy Award’s Best Actress gong for her role in ‘Moonstruck’. At the same time, her ‘Heart of Stone’ album produced a sizeable hit ‘If I Could Turn Back Time’ and a memorably risqué outfit for the video.
She made her directing debut with ‘If These Walls Could Talk’ in 1996. Despite her reputation as supporter for gay rights and AIDS charities, Cher was initially less than delighted when her daughter was outted by the press. Their relationship mended in time for Chastity to break the news to her mother that Sonny had died while skiing. The eulogy to her former partner displayed Cher’s vulnerable side to the public. Chastity was later to rename herself Chaz, following her decision to change sex. A documentary which chart's her gender reassignment, entitled ‘Becoming Chaz’, shows Cher explaining that “at some point, I'm going to have to start calling her him”.
In 1998, her album ‘Believe’ was to reinvent Cher as an electro pop, disco diva and earn her the biggest selling album of her entire career. The single stayed at number one in the charts for seven weeks. Cher launched her last worldwide tour in June 2002, a camp spectacular called ‘The Farewell Tour’, which circled the globe for almost three years, earning close to $250 million.
On 6 May 2008, Cher began a three year stint of live shows at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. The singer paid thanks to her fans on her website for coming to see the “nearly 200 shows” which she put on in Sin City. Then, hinting at another comeback, the 64-year-old, said “Las Vegas, you haven’t seen the last of me”.
2010 saw the singer once again return to the big screen as Tess, the owner of a club, in the hit musical ‘Burlesque’. In an interview with Moviesonline.ca, Cher said that she “got along great” with the cast, including co-star Christina Aguilera, although she admitted the filming was “gruelling”. She said: “The days were longer than any production I’ve ever worked on but it was fun. You forget that it’s fun.”
Cher also recorded two new songs for the film, ‘Welcome to Burlesque’ and ‘You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me’, the latter of which won the 2011 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song.