Cher (/ ˈ ʃ ɛər / ; born Cherilyn Sarkisian; May 20, 1946) is an American singer and actress.
In 1982, Cher made her Broadway debut in the play Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean and starred in the film adaptation of the same title.
Life and career
Cher was born Cherilyn Sarkisian in El Centro, California, on May 20, 1946.
Now living in Los Angeles, Cher's mother began acting while working as a waitress.
When Cher was in fifth grade, she produced a performance of the musical Oklahoma! for her teacher and class.
In 1961, Holt married bank manager Gilbert LaPiere, who adopted Cher (under the name Cheryl LaPiere) and Georganne, and enrolled them at Montclair College Preparatory School, a private school in Encino, whose students were mostly from affluent families.
At age 16, Cher dropped out of school, left her mother's house, and moved with a friend into Los Angeles, where she took acting classes and worked to support herself.
Cher and Sonny became close friends, eventual lovers, and performed their own unofficial wedding ceremony in a hotel room in Tijuana, Mexico, on October 27, 1964.
In early 1965, Caesar and Cleo began calling themselves Sonny & Cher.
"I Got You Babe" reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became, according to AllMusic's Bruce Eder, "one of the biggest-selling and most beloved pop/rock hits of the mid-'60s"; Rolling Stone listed it among "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time" in 2003.
Sonny and Cher's first album, Look at Us (1965), released for the Atco Records division of Atlantic Records, spent eight weeks at number two on the Billboard 200, behind the Beatles'Help! . Their material became popular, and the duo successfully competed with the dominant British Invasion and Motown sounds of the era.
Cher's following releases kept her solo career fully competitive with her work with Sonny.
By the end of the 1960s, Sonny and Cher's music had ceased to chart.
Meanwhile, Sonny repeatedly cheated on Cher, and by the end of the 1960s their relationship had begun to unravel.
At the lowest point of their career, the duo put together a nightclub routine that relied on a more adult approach to sound and style.
Watched by more than 30 million viewers weekly throughout its three-year run, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour was praised for the comedic timing, and deadpan Cher mocked Sonny about his looks and short stature.
In 1971, Sonny and Cher signed with the Kapp Records division of MCA Records, and Cher released the single "Classified 1A", in which she sings from the point of view of a soldier who bleeds to death in Vietnam.
In 1972, Cher released the all-ballad set Foxy Lady , demonstrating the evolution of her vocal abilities, according to Bego.
Between 1971 and 1973, Sonny and Cher's recording career was revived with four albums released under Kapp Records and MCA Records: Sonny & Cher Live (1971), All I Ever Need Is You (1972), Mama Was a Rock and Roll Singer, Papa Used to Write All Her Songs (1973), and Live in Las Vegas Vol. 2 (1973).
Cher and Sonny had marital problems after late 1972, but appearances were maintained until 1974.
In 1974, Cher won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Musical or Comedy for The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.
During the divorce proceedings, Cher had a two-year romantic relationship with record executive David Geffen, who freed her from her business arrangement with Sonny, under which she was required to work exclusively for Cher Enterprises, the company he ran.
On February 16, 1975, Cher returned to television with a solo show on CBS.
A single mother with two children, Cher realised that she'd to make a choice about the direction of her singing career.
Encouraged by the popularity of Take Me Home, Cher planned to return to rock music in her next album, Prisoner (1979).
In 1980, alongside Italian record producer Giorgio Moroder, Cher wrote her last Casablanca disco recording, "Bad Love", for the film Foxes . She formed the rock band Black Rose that year with her then-lover, guitarist Les Dudek.
With decreasing album sales and a lack of commercially successful singles, Cher decided to further develop her acting career.
Director Mike Nichols, who's seen Cher onstage in Jimmy Dean, offered her the part of Dolly Pelliker, a plant co-worker and Meryl Streep's lesbian roommate in the film Silkwood . When it premiered in 1983, audiences questioned Cher's ability as an actress.
In 1985, Cher formed the film production company Isis.
By 1987, Cher was receiving attention for her controversial lifestyle, including her tattoos, plastic surgeries, exhibitionist fashion sense, and affairs with younger men.
Cher starred in three films in 1987.
In 1987, Cher signed with Geffen Records and revived her musical career with what music critics Johnny Danza and Dean Ferguson describe as "her most impressive string of hits to date", establishing her as a "serious rock and roller... a crown that she'd worked long and hard to capture".
Cher's nineteenth studio album Heart of Stone (1989) was certified triple platinum by the RIAA.
In her first film in three years, Mermaids (1990), Cher paid tribute to her own mother in this storey about a woman who moves her two daughters from town to town at the end of a love affair.
Cher's final studio album for Geffen Records, Love Hurts (1991), stayed at number one in the UK for six weeks and produced the UK top-ten single "Love and Understanding". The album was certified gold by the RIAA.
Partially due to her experiences filming Mermaids, Cher turned down leading roles in such films as The War of the Roses and Thelma & Louise . According to Berman, "After the success of Moonstruck, she was so worried about her next career move that she was overly cautious."
In 1996, Cher played the wife of a businessman who hires a hitman to murder her in the Chazz Palminteri-scripted dark comedy film Faithful . Although the film received negative reviews from critics, Cher was praised for her role; The New York Times' Janet Maslin wrote that she "does her game best to find comic potential in a victim's role."
Following Sonny Bono's death in a skiing accident in 1998, Cher delivered a tearful eulogy at his funeral, calling him "the most unforgettable character" she'd met.
Cher's twenty-second studio album Believe (1998) marked a musical departure for her, as it comprises dance-pop songs, a large number of of which capture the "disco-era essence"; Cher said, "It's not that I think this is a '70s album... but there's a thread, a consistency running through it that I love.'"Believe was certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA and went on to be certified gold or platinum in 39 countries, selling 10 million copies worldwide.
Cher was named the number-one dance artist of 1999 by Billboard.
Not.com.mercial (2000) was written mostly by Cher after she'd attended a songwriters' conference in 1994; it marked her first attempt at writing most of the tracks for an album.
Cher's highly anticipated dance-oriented follow-up to Believe, Living Proof (2001), entered the Billboard 200 at number nine and was certified gold by the RIAA.
In June 2002, Cher embarked on the Living Proof: The Farewell Tour, announced as the final live concert tour of her career, although she vowed to continue making records and films.
After leaving Warner UK in 2002, Cher signed a worldwide deal with the U.S. division of Warner Bros.
Closer to the Truth , Cher's 25th studio album and the first after 2001's Living Proof, entered the Billboard 200 at number three in October 2013, her highest position on that chart to date.
On June 30, 2013, Cher headlined the annual Dance on the Pier benefit, celebrating Gay Pride day.
On May 7, 2014, Cher confirmed a collaboration with American hip hop group Wu-Tang Clan on their album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin . Credited as Bonnie Jo Mason, she uses an alias of hers originated in 1964.
Cher first announced plans for a Broadway musical based on her life and music in June 2012.
Cher has employed various musical styles, including folk rock, pop rock, power ballads, disco, new wave music, rock music, punk rock, arena rock, and hip hop; she said she has done this to "remain relevant and do work that strikes a chord".
Robert Hilburn of Los Angeles Times writes, "There were a lot of great records by female singers in the early days of rock … None, however, reflected the authority and command that we associate with rock 'n' roll today as much as [Cher's] key early hits".
Cher has a contralto singing voice, described by author Nicholas E. Tawa as "bold, deep, and with a spacious vibrato". Ann Powers of The New York Times called it "a quintessential rock voice: impure, quirky, a fine vehicle for projecting personality."
Writing about Cher's musical output throughout the 1960s, Robert Hilburn of Los Angeles Times stated that "Rock was subsequently blessed with the staggering blues exclamations of Janis Joplin in the late '60s and the raw poetic force of Patti Smith in the mid-'70s.
Author Yvonne Tasker, in her book Working Girls: Gender and Sexuality in Popular Cinema (2002), notes that Cher's film roles often mirrors her public image as a rebellious, sexually autonomous, and self-made woman.
Cher's public image is additionally reflected in her music videos and live performances, in which she "repeatedly comments on her own construction, on her search for perfection and on the performance of the female body", wrote Tasker.
Cher was ranked seventeenth on VH1's list of the "50 Greatest Women of the Video Era".
Cher emerged as a fashion trendsetter in the 1960s, popularising "hippie fashion with bell-bottoms, bandanas, and Cherokee-inspired tunics".
In May 1999, after the Council of Fashion Designers of America recognised Cher with an award for her influence in fashion, Robin Givhan of Los Angeles Times called her a "fashion visionary" for "striking just the right note of contemporary wretched excess".
Cher has attracted media attention for her physical appearance—particularly her youthful looks and her tattoos.
Cher has six tattoos.
Cher's presence on social media has drawn analysis from journalists.
Cher's primary philanthropic endeavours have included support of health research and patients' quality of life, anti-poverty initiatives, veterans rights, and vulnerable children.
Beginning in 1990, Cher served as a donor and as the National Chairperson and Honorary Spokesperson for the Children's Craniofacial Association, whose mission is to "empower and give hope to facially disfigured children and their families".
Cher is a donor, fundraiser, and international spokesperson for Keep a Child Alive, an organisation that seeks to accelerate action to combat AIDS pandemic, including the provision of antiretroviral medicine to children and their families with HIV/AIDS.
Cher has been a vocal supporter of American soldiers and returning veterans.
Cher has engaged in the construction of houses with Habitat for Humanity and served as the Honorary National Chair of a Habitat's elimination of poverty housing initiative "Raise the Roof", an effort to engage artists in the organization's work while on tour.
Cher's oldest child, Chaz Bono (born Chastity Bono), first came out as a lesbian at age 17, which reportedly caused her mother to feel "guilt, fear and pain".
Cher has said that she isn't a registered Democrat, but has attended a large number of Democratic conventions and events.
On October 27, 2003, Cher anonymously called a C-SPAN phone-in programme to recount a visit she made to maimed soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center and criticised the lack of media coverage and government attention given to injured servicemen.
Cher supported Hillary Clinton in her 2008 presidential campaign.
Legacy and influence
According to Goldmine magazine's Phill Marder, Cher "has been and remains today one of the Rock Era's most dominant figures".
Cher has repeatedly reinvented herself through various personas, for which Professor Richard Aquila from Ball State University called her "the ultimate pop chameleon".
Cher's "ability to forge an immensely successful and lengthy career as a woman in a male-dominated entertainment world" has drawn attention from feminist critics.
The reverence the gay community holds for Cher has been attributed to the accomplishments in her career, her sense of style and her longevity.
Achievements and recognition
Throughout her career, Cher has sold 100 million records worldwide.
In 2003, Cher appeared at number 41 on VH1's list of "The 200 Greatest Pop Culture Icons", which recognises "the folks that have significantly inspired and impacted American society".
- All I Really Want to Do (1965)
- The Sonny Side of Chér (1966)
- Chér (1966)
- With Love, Chér (1967)
- Backstage (1968)
- 3614 Jackson Highway (1969)
- Chér (1971)
- Foxy Lady (1972)
- Bittersweet White Light (1973)
- Half-Breed (1973)
- Dark Lady (1974)
- Stars (1975)
- I'd Rather Believe in You (1976)
- Cherished (1977)
- Take Me Home (1979)
- Prisoner (1979)
- I Paralyze (1982)
- Cher (1987)
- Heart of Stone (1989)
- Love Hurts (1991)
- It's a Man's World (1995)
- Believe (1998)
- Not.com.mercial (2000)
- Living Proof (2001)
- Closer to the Truth (2013)
Tours and residency shows
- Cher World Tour (1979–82)
- Heart of Stone Tour (1990)
- Love Hurts Tour (1992)
- Do You Believe? (1999–2000)
- Living Proof: The Farewell Tour (2002–05)
- Cher (2008–11)
- Dressed to Kill Tour (2014)
- Classic Cher (2017)
- Good Times (1967)
- Chastity (1969)
- Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982)
- Silkwood (1983)
- Mask (1985)
- Suspect (1987)
- The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
- Moonstruck (1987)
- Mermaids (1990)
- The Player (1992)
- Prêt-à-Porter (1994)
- Faithful (1996)
- If These Walls Could Talk (1996)
- Tea with Mussolini (1999)
- Stuck on You (2003)
- Burlesque (2010)
- Zookeeper (2011)