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Name at BirthCherilyn Sarkisian
BornMay 20, 1946
BirthplaceEl Centro, California, U.S.
OccupationSinger, actress, model, fashion designer, television host, comedian, songwriter, dancer, businesswoman, philanthropist, author, film producer, director, record producer
ParentsGeorgia Holt
John Sarkisian
SpouseSonny Bono 1964-1975 (divorced)
Gregg Allman 1975-1979 (divorced)
ChildrenChaz Bono
Elijah Blue Allman

Cher; born Cherilyn Sarkisian; May 20, 1946) is an American singer, songwriter, actress, model, fashion designer, television host, comedian, dancer, businesswoman, philanthropist, author, film producer, director, and record producer. Described as embodying female autonomy in a male-dominated industry, she is known for her distinctive contralto singing voice and for having worked in various areas of entertainment, as well as adopting a variety of styles and appearances during her career, which has led to her being nicknamed the "Goddess of Pop".

Cher gained popularity in 1965 as one-half of the folk rock husband–wife duo Sonny & Cher after their first hit, "I Got You Babe". She began her solo career simultaneously, releasing in 1966 her first million-seller song, "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)". Goldmine magazine's Phill Marder described her as the leader of an effort in the 1960s to "advance feminine rebellion in the rock world and the prototype of the female rock star, setting the standard for appearance and attitude".[1] After the duo had lost its young audience owing to their monogamous, anti-drug lifestyle during the period of the sexual revolution and the rise of the drug culture, she returned to stardom in the 1970s as a television personality with her shows The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, watched by over 30 million viewers weekly during its three-year run, and Cher. She became a fashion trendsetter by wearing elaborate outfits on her television shows. While working on television, she established herself as a solo artist with the number-one singles "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves", "Half-Breed", and "Dark Lady". After her divorce from Sonny Bono in 1975, Cher's much-publicized personal life led to a decline in her career, although she launched a minor comeback in 1979 with the disco-oriented album Take Me Home and earned $300,000 a week for her 1980–1982 residency show in Las Vegas.

In the early 1980s, Cher made her Broadway debut, and then starred in the film Silkwood, which earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1983. In the ensuing years, she starred in films such as Mask, The Witches of Eastwick, and Moonstruck, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1988. She made her directorial debut in the 1996 film If These Walls Could Talk. At the same time, she established herself as a rock singer by releasing platinum albums such as Heart of Stone (1989) and top-ten singles such as "I Found Someone" and "If I Could Turn Back Time". She reached a new commercial peak in 1998 with the song "Believe", which features the pioneering use of Auto-Tune, also known as the "Cher effect". Her 2002–2005 Living Proof: The Farewell Tour ended up as the highest-grossing music tour by a female artist then. In 2008, she signed a $60 million per-year deal to headline the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for three years. After seven years of absence, she returned to film in the 2010 musical Burlesque. Cher's first studio album in 12 years, Closer to the Truth (2013), became her highest-charting solo album in the US to date.

Biographer Mark Bego wrote, "No one in the history of show business has had a career of the magnitude and scope of Cher's." She has won an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, a special CFDA Fashion Award, three Golden Globe Awards, and a Cannes Film Festival award, among several other honors. She has sold 100 million records worldwide, making her one of the best-selling artists of all time. She is the only artist to date to have a number-one single on a Billboard chart in each of the past six decades. Outside of her music and acting, she is noted for her political views, philanthropic endeavors and activism for LGBT rights.

Life and career

Early life

Cher was born Cherilyn Sarkisian in El Centro, California, on May 20, 1946. Her father, John Sarkisian, was an Armenian-American truck driver with drug and gambling problems, and her mother, Georgia Holt, was an occasional model and bit-part actress with Irish, English, German, French, Dutch, and Cherokee ancestry. Cher's father was rarely home when she was an infant. Her parents married and divorced three times. After the first divorce from Sarkisian, Crouch married another man. The third of Crouch's eight marriages was to actor John Southall, the father of Cher's half-sister, Georganne.

By then living in Los Angeles, Crouch was pursuing an acting career while working as a waitress. She changed her name to Georgia Holt and earned minor roles in films and on television. Holt secured acting parts for her daughters as extras on television shows such as The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Although her mother's romantic relationship with Southall ended when Cher was nine years old, she considers him her father and remembers him as a "good-natured man who turned belligerent when he drank too much". As Holt remarried and divorced, the family moved from place to place (including New York, Texas and California) and often had little money. Cher remembered using rubber bands at one time to hold her shoes together. At one point, Holt had to put Cher in an orphanage for several weeks. Although they met every day, both Holt and Cher found the experience traumatic.

Cher's family first noticed her creativity when in the fifth grade, she produced for her teacher and class a performance of the musical Oklahoma!. She organized a group of girls, directing and choreographing their dance routines. Unable to convince boys to participate, she acted the male roles and sang their songs. By age nine, she had developed an unusually low voice. Fascinated by film stars, Cher's role model was Audrey Hepburn, particularly due to her role in the 1961 film Breakfast at Tiffany's. Cher began to pattern her outfits and behavior after the eccentric, fast-living character portrayed by Hepburn. She was disappointed by the absence of dark-haired Hollywood actresses whom she could emulate then. She had wanted to be famous since childhood but felt unattractive and untalented, later commenting, "I couldn't think of anything that I could do ... I didn't think I'd be a singer or dancer. I just thought, well, I'll be famous. That was my goal."

In 1961, Holt married bank manager Gilbert LaPiere, who adopted Cher (under the name Cheryl LaPiere) and her half-sister, Georganne, and enrolled them at Montclair College Preparatory School, a private school in Encino, Los Angeles, whose students were mostly from affluent families.[2] The school's upper-class environment presented a challenge for Cher; biographer Connie Berman wrote, "she stood out from the others in both her striking appearance and outgoing personality." A former classmate commented, "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." Despite not being an excellent student, Cher was intelligent and creative, according to Berman. She earned good grades, excelling in French and English classes. As an adult, she discovered that she had dyslexia. Cher achieved notoriety for her unconventional behavior: she performed songs for students during the lunch hours and surprised peers when she wore a midriff-baring top, being the first young woman in her social circle to do so. She later recalled, "I was never really in school. I was always thinking about when I was grown up and famous."


Cher's primary philanthropic endeavors have included support of health research and patients' quality of life, anti-poverty initiatives, veterans rights, and vulnerable children. Beginning in 1990, she 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". The annual Cher's Family Retreat is held each June to provide craniofacial patients, their siblings and parents an opportunity to interact with others who have endured similar experiences.[3] She supports and promotes Get A-Head Charitable Trust, which aims to improve the quality of life for people with head and neck diseases.

In 1993, Cher participated in a humanitarian effort in Armenia, taking food and medical supplies to the war-torn region. In 1996, she co-hosted the American Foundation for AIDS Research Benefit at the Cannes Film Festival. She is the namesake of the Cher Charitable Foundation, which supports numerous causes.[4]

Cher has been a vocal supporter of American soldiers and returning veterans. She has contributed resources to Operation Helmet, an organization that provides free helmet upgrade kits to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. She has contributed to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, which serves military personnel who have been disabled in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those severely injured in other operations. She 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. She is a donor, fundraiser and international spokesperson for Keep a Child Alive, an organization that seeks to accelerate action to combat the global AIDS pandemic, including the provision of antiretroviral medicine to children and their families with HIV/AIDS.

In 2007, Cher became the primary supporter of the Peace Village School (PVS) in Ukunda, Kenya, which "provides nutritious food, medical care, education and extracurricular activities for more than 300 orphans and vulnerable children, ages 2 to 13 years."[5] Her support enabled the school to acquire land and build permanent housing and school facilities, and in partnership with Malaria No More and other organizations, she piloted an effort to eliminate malaria mortality and morbidity for the children, their caregivers and the surrounding community.

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".[6] However, Cher soon came to accept Chaz's sexual orientation, and came to the conclusion that LGBT people "didn't have the same rights as everyone else,and she thought that was unfair".[7] She was the keynote speaker for the 1997 national Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) convention, and has since become one of the LGBT community's most vocal advocates.[6][7] On June 11, 2009, Chaz came out as a transgender individual, and his transition from female to male was legally finalized on May 6, 2010.[8]




Year Film Role Other notes
1965 Wild on the Beach Herself
1967 Good Times Herself
1969 Chastity Chastity
1982 Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean Sissy Nominated - Golden Globe Award
1983 Silkwood Dolly Pelliker Won Golden Globe Award; Nominated for Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress; Nominated - BAFTA Award
1985 Mask Florence 'Rusty' Dennis Nominated - Golden Globe Award; Won - Cannes Film Award
1987 Suspect Kathleen Riley
The Witches of Eastwick Alexandra Medford
1987 Moonstruck Loretta Castorini Academy Award for Best Actress; Golden Globe Award; nominated for BAFTA Award
1990 Mermaids Rachel Flax
1992 The Player Herself
1994 Prêt-à-Porter Herself
1996 Faithful Margaret
1999 Tea with Mussolini Elsa Morganthal Strauss-Armistan
2003 Stuck on You Cher/Honey

Television work

Year Show Role Other notes
1968 Where the Girls Are
1970 The Sonny & Cher Nitty Gritty Hour Herself - co-host
1971-1974 The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour Herself/various characters Nominated - Emmy Award, four times
1975-1976 Cher Herself - host Nominated - Emmy Award
1976-1977 The Sonny and Cher Show Herself - co-host
1978 Cher... Special Herself
1979 Cher... and Other Fantasies Herself
1990 Cher... at the Mirage Herself
1996 If These Walls Could Talk (1996) Dr. Beth Thompson (segment "1996") also director; Nominated - Golden Globe
1998 Sonny & Me: Cher Remembers Herself
1999 VH1 Divas Live 2 Performer
Cher: Live in Concert from Las Vegas Herself Nominated - Emmy Award
2000 Will & Grace Herself episode - "Gypsies, Tramps and Weed"
2002 VH1 Divas Las Vegas Herself/performer
Will & Grace Herself (as God) episode - "A.I.: Artificial Insemination"
2003 Cher: The Farewell Tour Herself Emmy Award


  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named Goldmine
  2. Cher adopted as Cheryl LaPiere. Retrieved on September 22, 2014.
  3. "Cher Presents 'Love Sees No Color' Premiere at Los Angeles Fundraiser Party", Fred Nassiri, November 12, 2007. Retrieved on October 29, 2012. 
  4. "Cher to auction off home contents", BBC News, BBC, August 1, 2006. 
  5. Cher Helps Save Kenyan School. Archived from the original on June 2011. Retrieved on October 29, 2012.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Bernstein, Robert (2003). Straight Parents, Gay Children: Keeping Families Together. Thunder's Mouth Press, 166. ISBN 1-56025-452-1. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Plumez, Jacqueline Hornor (2002). Mother Power. Sourcebooks, 182. ISBN 1-57071-823-7. 
  8. Chaz Bono, Cher's child, becomes a man after Southern California judges grants gender change. Retrieved on February 14, 2013.

External links



v  d  e  
Cher singles (1965-1982)
All I Really Want to Do
"Dream Baby" (1964) · "All I Really Want to Do" (1965)
The Sonny Side of Cher
"Where Do You Go" (1965) · "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" (1966)
"Sunny" (1966) · "Alfie" (1966) · "Magic in the Air (I Feel Something)" (1966)
With Love, Cher
"Behind The Door" (1966) · "Mama (When My Dollies Have Babies)" (1966) · "Hey Joe" (1967) · "You Better Sit Down Kids" (1967)
"The Click Song" (1968) · "Take Me for a Little While" (1968)
3614 Jackson Highway
"For What It's Worth" (1969) · "I Walk on Guilded Splinters" (1969) · "Lay Baby Lay" (1970)
Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves
"Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" (1971) · "The Way of Love" (1972) · "I Hate to Sleep Alone" (1972)
Foxy Lady
"Living in a House Divided" (1972) · "Don't Hide Your Love" (1972)
Bittersweet White Light
"Am I Blue?" (1973)
"Half-Breed" (1973) · "Carousel Man" (1973) (Promo)
Dark Lady
"Dark Lady" (1974) · "Train of Thought" (1974) "I Saw a Man and He Danced with His Wife" (1974)  · "Rescue Me" (1975) (Promo)
"Geronimo's Cadillac" (1975) · "These Days" (1975) ·
I'd Rather Believe in You
"Long Distance Love Affair" (1976) · "I'd Rather Believe in You" (1976)
"Pirate" (1977) · "War Paint & Soft Feathers" (1977)
Take Me Home
"Take Me Home" (1979) · "Wasn't It Good" (1979) · "It's Too Late (To Love Me Now)" (1979)

v  d  e  
Cher singles (1987-present)
"I Found Someone" (1987) · "We All Sleep Alone" (1988) · "Skin Deep" (1988) · "Bang Bang" (1988) · "Main Man" (1988) (Promo)
Heart of Stone
"After All" (1989) · "If I Could Turn Back Time" (1989) · "Just Like Jesse James" (1989) · "Heart of Stone" (1990) · "You Wouldn't Know Love" (1990)
Mermaids (soundtrack)
"The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)" (1990) (North American only) · "Baby I'm Yours" (1991)
Love Hurts
"The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)" (1991) (Outside N.A) · "Love and Understanding" (1991) · "Save Up All Your Tears" (1991) · "Love Hurts" (1992) · "Could've Been You" (1992) · "When Lovers Become Strangers" (1992) (U.S. only) ·
Greatest Hits: 1965-1992
"Oh No Not My Baby" (1992) · "Whenever You're Near" (1993) · "Many Rivers to Cross" (1993) (Live)
It's a Man's World
"Walking in Memphis" (1995) · "One by One" (1996) · "Not Enough Love in the World" (1996) · "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore" (1996) · "Paradise Is Here" (1996)
"Believe" (1998) · "Strong Enough" (1999) · "All or Nothing" (1999) · "Dov'è L'Amore" (1999)
Living Proof
"The Music's No Good Without You" (2001) (Outside U.S.) · "Song for the Lonely" (2002) · "Alive Again" (2002) · "A Different Kind of Love Song" (2002) · "When the Money's Gone" (2003)

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