Born Cherilyn Sarkisian, Cher is known to many as the Goddess of Pop. she has won an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, three Golden Globes and a Cannes Film Festival Award among others for her work in film, music and television. She is the only person in history to have received all of these awards.
Cher began her career as a backup singer and later came to prominence as one half of the pop rock duo Sonny & Cher. She subsequently established herself as a solo recording artist, and became a television star in 1971 with The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, a variety show for which she won a Golden Globe. A well received performance in the film Silkwood earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1984.
In the following years, Cher starred in a string of hit films including Mask, The Witches of Eastwick, and Moonstruck, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1988.
Cher has sold over 100 million records worldwide. Throughout a career spanning over six decades, Cher is the only artist to reach the number one on the Billboard charts in each of the previous six decades, and also holds this record for four and five decades. Her hit dance single "Believe" is her biggest-selling recording and was the best-selling single of 1999, having sold over 10 million copies worldwide.
She holds the Hot 100 record for the longest hit-making career span, with 33 years between the release of her first and most recent Billboard Hot 100 #1 singles, in 1965 and 1999 and 45 years between her first and most recent #1 ranking on any Billboard chart.
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-----Cher was born Cherilyn Sarkisian in El Centro, California. Sonny Bono, who was 11 years older than Cher, was working for record producer Phil Spector at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood. Sonny and Cher became inseparable friends, eventual lovers, and later married.
Through Sonny, Cher started as a session singer in 1963, and sang backup on several of Spector’s classic recordings, including The Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Loving Feeling," Darlene Love's "A Fine, Fine Boy," The Crystals' "Da Doo Ron Ron" and The Ronettes’ "Be My Baby."
Her first solo recording was the unsuccessful single "Ringo, I Love You," released under the pseudonym of Bonnie Jo Mason and produced by Phil Spector. Her second attempt was "Dream Baby," released under the name "Cherilyn" and written and produced by Sonny Bono. Both were released in 1964.
With Sonny continuing to write, arrange and produce the songs, Sonny and Cher’s first incarnation was as the duo "Caesar and Cleo." They received little attention, despite releasing the single "The Letter" in late 1964 which featured the B-side "Baby Don't Go."
Before being known as Sonny and Cher, the duo released an album under the name of "Caesar and Cleo." The first "Sonny and Cher" album, Look At Us, was released in the summer of 1965. This album contained the overnight smash single "I Got You Babe" which reached #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in August 1965.
Cher was 19 years old, Sonny 30. A re-released "Baby Don't Go" peaked at #8. Several more mid-level hits followed, notably "Just You," "But You're Mine," "What Now My Love" and "Little Man," before "The Beat Goes On" returned the duo to the Top 10. Sonny and Cher charted eleven Billboard Top 40 hits between 1965 and 1972, including six Top 10 hits.
The duo became a sensation, traveling and performing around the world. Following an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in the fall of 1965 in which Sullivan had infamously mispronounced her name 'Chur' during their introduction, the singer began spelling her name with an acute accent mark: Chér—a typographical feature she maintained through 1974.
While initially perceived as the slightly awkward and less important half of the popular singing duo, Cher disguised her stage fright and nervousness with quick-witted barbs directed at her partner. She soon rose to prominence as the more outspoken, daring and provocative half of the team. With her dark, exotic looks, she helped popularize fashions such as bellbottoms and incorporating eccentric gowns, "hippie" attire and elaborate costumes into live shows.
Later in 1965, Cher released her debut solo album, All I Really Want to Do, which reached #16 on the Billboard 200 album chart. The album's cover of the Bob Dylan song "All I Really Want to Do" peaked at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100.
In 1966, Cher released her second solo album, The Sonny Side of Chér. It peaked at #26 in the US charts, and #11 in the UK chart. The album contained the singles "Where Do You Go and "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)"); both hits written and produced by Sonny Bono. In the United States, the latter was Cher's biggest solo hit of the 1960s. Her third solo album Chér, also released in 1966, was not as successful as its predecessors, but did include the European Top 10 hit "Sunny."
In an attempt to capitalize on the duo’s initial success, Sonny speedily arranged a film project for the duo to star in. But the 1967 feature, Good Times, was a major bomb.
Cher continued to establish herself as a solo artist and released the album Backstage. The album was a flop. They made another unsuccessful foray into film later in 1969 with Bono writing and producing the film Chastity, intended as a dramatic debut for Cher as an actress. It was also a commercial failure.
Sonny created a new career for the duo in Las Vegas resorts, with Cher as the wise-cracking singer, and Sonny as the good-natured recipient of her insults. In reality, Sonny controlled every aspect of their act.
In 1970, Sonny and Cher starred in their first television special, The Sonny and Cher Nitty Gritty Hour which was a critical success. CBS head of programming Fred Silverman offered the duo their own variety show. The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour debuted in 1971 as a summer replacement series. The show returned to prime time later that year and was an immediate hit, quickly reaching the Top 10. The show received 15 Emmy Award nominations during its run, winning one for direction.
After a three-year hiatus and retirement from touring, Cher returned to the stage in February 2008 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas where she performed her show Cher at the Colosseum until February 2011.