May 20 – Happy Birthday, Cher

Posted on May 20, 2018

Cher is far from the only celebrity known by one name. Of course, there's Beyonce, Elvis, Prince, Madonna, Pink, Eminem - the list goes on and on!

But Cher was one of the first only-one-name-needed stars I ever knew, as she burst onto the world stage as one half of the folk-rock act Sonny and Cher, in 1965. 

But of course, Cher has another name. Actually, quite a lot of other names!

This singer / actress was born on this date in 1946, in a town in way-way-way-southern Southern California: an Armenian American girl named Cherilyn Sarkisian. At one point she was adopted by one of her step-fathers, becoming Cheryl LaPiere. She has recorded under names as varied as Bonnie Jo Mason and Cleo (part of Caesar and Cleo). 

High school yearbook
photo -

hard to believe she felt
unattractive, isn't it?
In high school, Cher felt unattractive and untalented. She wanted to be famous, but she wasn't sure how that would happen. She was a bit disheartened that there weren't dark-haired Hollywood stars (at the time) - it's always easier to imagine succeeding in a field or a place if someone that looks a bit like you is already succeeding there. 

She's gorgeous - but she does not look
particularly ordinary. Sometimes it's hard
to feel beautiful when you look different!

Cher began to work for a performer named Sonny Bono; he later became her friend, her performing partner, and her husband. (She became Cher Bono at that point.) I did not realize that Sonny wanted to launch Cher as a solo artist, but Cher was too nervous with stage fright and wanted him out on stage with her rather than behind the scenes. Cher was able to calm her nerves by looking at Sonny, and she later said that she sang to the audience through him.

Sonny and Cher outside of the Hilton.
Members of the mega-huge rock band the Rolling Stones advised Sonny and Cher to go to England, and when the two did so in 1965, they were thrown out of the London Hilton because of their outfits (what???) and instantly became material for photographers and reporters and - literally overnight - fans. Sonny and Cher were wearing clothes that were not at that time known or popular, but bell bottoms, striped pants, ruffled shirts, and fur vests became enormous hits in England - and soon in America as well. Some girls even ironed their hair straight and dyed their hair black to look like Cher!

The song "I Got You, Babe" also became a huge hit in England, and later the U.S.

Cher became confident enough to launch her solo career in 1966, and both Sonny-and-Cher and Cher-only projects went forward full-steam ahead until the couple divorced in 1975.

Here are just a few of Cher's accomplishments:

  • With Sonny, being the "it" couple in rock.
  • With Sonny, selling over 40 million records.
  • TV variety show The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour - 3 years.
  • Solo, more than 30 charted songs, including four #1 hits.
  • Reaching the Top 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 in FOUR different decades - the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s.
  • TV variety show Cher - 2 years.
  • Acting on Broadway.
  • Critical acclaim and commercial success as a movie actress.
  • Academy Award for Best Actress (Moonstruck).
  • Speaking of awards: 1 Grammy, 1 Emmy, 3 Golden Globes, 1 Cannes Film Festival Award, and a special CFDA Fashion Award!
  • Altogether, selling more than 100 million records worldwide - one of the best selling artists in history.
  • The only artist to date to have a #1 single on a Billboard chart in every decade Billboard has been charting records.
  • Wow!
According to Wikipedia, one of Cher's names is Cherilyn Sarkisian La Piere Bono Allman. Phew-y!

Also, Cher was known early for her unusual clothes - clothes that set trends. Well...the trend of her being a trend-setter AND the trend of her being known for unusual outfits has continued her whole life!

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