Things You Might Not Know About CherPublished on June 13, 2018. Updated May 11, 2020
Known as the Goddess of Pop, Cher is one of Hollywood’s greatest living legends. Over her six decade career she has topped charts, box offices, and had no problem making her way through a male-dominated industry. From early childhood to romantic relationships and through music and film, Cher has endured and persevered through more than her fair share of ups and downs, and has always remained as amazing as ever. Here are 12 things you never knew about the icon:
12. Famous Friends
As an icon in the industry for several decades, it is no surprise that Cher’s inner circle is full of big names, and that means she has excellent celebrity stories to share. During her relationship with Sonny, their closest friends included Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, and Henry Fonda, just to name a few. “I knew Lucy since I was little. I was crazy about her. My mom was an extra on her show. One time, we were at this party, and Johnny Carson got really pissed off at me, because it was the second inauguration of Nixon. I thought Nixon was a big idiot, and Lucy thought he was a big idiot, and she was making jokes, and I was hysterically laughing. Carson got furious and said that I should get out of the room because I was being disrespectful. He would have never said boo to Lucy—she would have chewed him up and spit him out,” Cher revealed in an interview with Vanity Fair. She also takes credit for her close friend Meryl Streep welcoming her daughter Mamie, telling the publication, “I was responsible for Mamie! I take full credit. We were in Texas doing Silkwood, and Don [Gummer] was there with Henry [their son]. Meryl said, ‘We need some time alone. Take Henry—it’s Halloween. Please, just take him.’ So I took Henry, and she got pregnant with Mamie.”
11. Lost Roles
Now that Cher is known for her singing as well as her acting, it is no surprise that she hasn’t been able to take on every opportunity that has been presented. After the success of Moonstruck, Cher became “overly cautious” about what roles to take and was offered the lead in The War of the Roses as well as the role of Thelma Dickinson in 1991’s Thelma & Louise, but turned it down, making way for Geena Davis. In the late ’90s it was also revealed that Cher along with Jennifer Aniston had been tapped to play the mother/daughter duo in the film Heartbreakers, but when Aniston encountered scheduling conflicts because of Friends she dropped out and then Cher’s Believe Tour became an issue. In the end, Sigourney Weaver and Jennifer Love Hewitt ended up with the roles in the film that was released in 2001.
10. Early Life
Cherilyn Sarkisian was born on May 20, 1946, in El Centro, California to Georgia Holt, a model and actress, and John Sarkisian, a truck driver. When Cher was only 10 months old, her parents divorced due to her father’s drug and gambling problems, and her mother remarried to actor John Southall and the couple welcomed Cher’s half-sister Georganne. When Cher was nine, her mother and Southall split, although she still considers him her father, and her mother began moving her family around and remarried several more times, causing chaos for Cher at a young age as they often lived with very little money. Things changed, however, when Holt married bank manager Gilbert LePiere who adopted both Cher and Georgeanne and enrolled them in a private school. Cher never made it through high school though and dropped out at 16, and at 30 years old she was diagnosed with dyslexia.
9. Family Struggles
While things became increasingly difficult for Cher’s mother when Cher and Georganne were young, things hit a low when her mother was forced to leave Cher at an orphanage for an extended time but visited her daughter every day. Of her very strange childhood, Cher said, “When you’re little and you live in some awful place, first of all, it’s crummy, and second of all, you’re ashamed. I remember being really ashamed of my clothes. I was so hard on my shoes. My mom would say, ‘Jesus Christ, Cher, we can’t afford shoes. Stop this!’ I remember going to school with rubber bands around my shoes to keep my soles on. But it wasn’t always like that. We ate a can of stew or a can of beans one week, but then sometimes we lived in Beverly Hills. It was a very strange life.”
8. Becoming a Star
From the time she was only 10 years old, it was clear that Cher was going to be a star. When she was in the fifth grade, she put together a performance of Oklahoma! which included directing and choreographing the dance routines and when no boys would participate she took on the male roles herself. A former classmate once said, “I’ll never forget seeing Cher for the first time. She was so special … She was like a movie star, right then and there … She said she was going to be a movie star and we knew she would.” At 16, things started looking bigger than ever for Cher after she dropped out of school and moved to L.A. with a friend where she took acting classes and danced in clubs to earn money. She quickly began having an affair with Warren Beatty who was then 25, and soon after met Sonny Bono. Despite Sonny being 11 years older than her, she moved in almost immediately and they became inseparable.
7. Prefers Acting
She may have sold more than 100 million records worldwide and is one of the best-selling music artists in history, but as it turns out Cher prefers to act! The entertainment icon once admitted, “I don’t like my voice that much. I think I’m a much better actress than singer. Singing is like going to a party at someone else’s house. Acting is like having the party at your own house. When you go to someone else’s house for a party, it’s not your responsibility at all, but when you have the party at your own house, there’s a lot of responsibility. Everyone has to have a good time. So for me, acting is deeper.”
6. Special Club
There is no denying that there isn’t anyone quite like Cher in the entertainment industry, and among all of her achievements, awards, and recognition, she is a part of a very special group of entertainers. Cher is only of only six actors and actresses to have a number one single for their music, as well as an Oscar for acting. She shares the honor with Frank Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Judy Garland, Jamie Foxx, and Bing Crosby.
5. Health Decline
After incredible success through the ’70s and ’80s, things took a turn for Cher in the early ’90s when she contracted the Epstein-Barr virus and then developed chronic fatigue syndrome. Her decline in health impacted both her music and film careers, so she instead took on filming infomercials to make money. While she saw it only as a way to support herself and deal with her health crisis at the same time, the media began calling her a “sellout” but Cher always fought back. “I’m like a bumper car. When I did an infomercial I was fodder for every TV comedy show. I couldn’t get a job. People said I was a huge joke. I’ve been a joke so many times. I’ve been on my way out since I started, but I’m strong-willed. My mother is so much tougher than I am and my grandmother is so much tougher than my mother,” she explained of being constantly pulled up and dragged down by Hollywood.
4. Personal Life
Although Cher started dating Sonny Bono almost immediately after they met in 1962, the pair weren’t married until March 4, 1969, after Cher gave birth to their child, Chastity Bono, who later became Chaz. When their marriage began to unravel in the early ’70s the pair stuck it out for the sake of their fame and fans until Sonny filed for divorce in early 1974. Cher then began dating record executive David Geffen who played a key role in helping her escape from her contract with Sonny which was causing her money problems. Then, in 1975, four days after her divorce from Sonny Bono was finalized, Cher married rocker Gregg Allman and together they welcomed son Elijah Blue in 1976, but shortly after called it quits and finalized their divorced in 1979. Aside from her two marriages, Cher is known for many of her other prolific relationships including with actors such as Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, and former Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora.
3. Her Two Sons
Cher has always been open, honest and unapologetic about who she is, and has often talked about her relationships with her sons, Chaz and Elijah. While she praises them both, she knows having Cher for a mother wasn’t easy for both of them. ” They are both very talented, both very artistic, and they are good children. They’re grown-ups. They’re so different. Chaz had a dad for a long time. Sonny was a great parent for a young child—even like 12, 13. But the moment you had ideas that were contrary, he was not quite as interested. Elijah didn’t really have Gregory. Gregory moved off someplace else. He was the nicest person, even when he was doing drugs. But when you’re doing drugs, the people you’re hanging with aren’t exactly…. You’re not going to church to find these people.” She added, “One time, when Chaz was little, we were on a field trip, and she said, ‘I’m so pissed off, Mom. You can never not be Cher—we can never just do something.’ So your kids pay. I did the best I could do, and yet it was definitely lacking.” When asked if she thinks her children hold any residual anger towards her, she responded, “I think Chaz is pretty much finished with it, and I think Elijah has a little longer to go, but they both really love me a lot. But it’s hard.”
2. Net Worth
A six-decade-long career through both the music and film industries is certainly no small feat, and while Cher had her share of ups and downs in the industry, her staying-power has meant some big bucks in her bank account. As of 2017, her estimated net worth came in at $360 million, which is sure to only grow as she shows no signs of stopping, as 2018 marks her return to the big screen with a role in the Mamma Mia! sequel, Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again.
1. Hall of Fame
For reasons that her fans don’t understand, Cher and the late Sonny Bono have never been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. While the singer has famously said, “I don’t need to be in a hall to rock,” there is no doubt that the omission has irritated her. “Sonny and I still aren’t in the [Rock and Roll] Hall of Fame, and it just seems kind of rude, because we were a huge part of a certain kind of music, and we lasted for a very long time.… I have so much of everything that I want that those things don’t usually bother me. It bothers me a little bit more because Sonny was a good writer, and we started something that no one else was doing. We were weird hippies before there was a name for it, when the Beatles were wearing sweet little haircuts and round-collared suits. The Rolling Stones were the only ones who understood us. People hated us here; we had to go to Europe to become famous. We influenced a generation, and it’s like: What more do you want?” she said in a 2010 interview.