Cher Born Cherilyn LaPiere Sarkisian on May 20, 1946, in El Centro, California. Cher met Sonny Bono, a recorder producer, in a coffee shop when she was sixteen. The two began performing together as a musical act, at one point billing themselves as “Caesar and Cleo.” They married when Cher was eighteen and by 1965, Sonny and Cher were a popular act on the West Coast, renowned for their outrageous outfits. Their first big hit was “I Got You, Babe,” (1965) which sold over four million copies. The couple had a daughter, Chastity Bono, in 1969.
In the 1970s, they starred in their own top-rated television variety show: The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour (1971-1974). The end of their show coincided with the collapse of their marriage. The couple divorced in 1974, but reunited professionally for The Sonny and Cher Show (1976-1977). Bono went on to become a Republican congressman before his death in a ski accident in 1998. Cher had a brief marriage to rock musician Gregg Allman in the late 1970s, which produced a son, Elijah Blue Allman.
After a stint on the Las Vegas circuit in the late 1970s/early 1980s, Cher launched a successful film career. She received a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her role in Silkwood (1983), and a Best Actress Academy Award for Moonstruck (1987), in which she played an Italian widow. Her other notable movies include: Mask (1985), Suspect (1987), Witches of Eastwick (1987), Mermaids (1990), and Tea With Mussolini. In 1996, Cher made her directorial debut with one segment of HBO’s three-part film, If These Walls Could Talk. She is the author of several beauty and fitness books, as well as an autobiographical work, The First Time (1998).
Cher also released two “Cherfitness” videos, in 1991 and 1992. In 1999, Cher found success again on the pop-music charts with her album Believe, released in late 1998. Her smash single, a neo-disco anthem also titled “Believe” made her, at age 52, the oldest American woman ever to record a No. 1 hit. Her sold-out tour began in June 1999.
In early 2000, Cher overwhelmed the competition at the Grammy Awards, beating out fellow divas Jennifer Lopez, Gloria Estefan, and Donna Summer for Best Dance Recording, and winning her first Grammy, for “Believe”.