Name at birth: Cherilyn Sarkisian
Cher met songwriter and producer Sonny Bono in 1963. She was 16, he was 28, and two years later they recorded their first hit song, "I Got You Babe." They were an amusing physical combination: Cher tall and willowy, Sonny short and mustachioed, both clad in the psychedelic clothing of the Love Generation. In 1967 they had another chart-topper with "The Beat Goes On." Their recording career seemed about to fade when they bounced back with a tongue-in-cheek television variety show: The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour was a hit from 1971 to 1974, when the couple split up and filed for divorce. (A revived post-divorce version of the show, The Sonny and Cher Show, ran from 1976-77.) Meanwhile, Cher's solo singing career took off, with hits including "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" and "Half Breed." Then Cher turned to acting. She earned praise for her work in Silkwood (1983, with Meryl Streep) and Mask (1985), and in 1988 she won the best actress Oscar as a lovelorn Brooklyn widow romanced by Nicolas Cage in the wry comedy Moonstruck. In the 1990s she returned to music as an electro-pop diva, releasing the successful album Believe in 1999. In later years her many "farewell" tours and cheerful embrace of plastic surgery made her the subject of good-natured ribbing in celebrity journals, but she has been unfazed. She began a three-year gig in Las Vegas in 2008, replacing Celine Dion at Caesar's Palace.
Cher and Sonny Bono were married from 1969-75. The actual date of their marriage is a bit confusing: some sources say they were married in 1964, but while they apparently exchanged rings in 1964 in Tijuana, and told others they were married, they were not legally married until 1969. They had one daughter, Chastity, born in 1969… Cher was married to rock guitarist Gregg Allman from 1975-77. They had one son, Elijah Blue, born in 1976… At the start of her career, Cher also performed under the name Bonnie Jo Mason.