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The Eighties Club
The Politics and Pop Culture of the 1980s
Stars of the '80s
Cher


Cherilyn Sarkisian was born in 1946 in El Centro, California, and raised by her mother, a struggling actress who was married eight times. At 16, Cher quit high school to concentrate on acting lessons.  Shortly thereafter she met 28-year-old songwriter Sonny Bono at Aldo's Coffee Shop. They moved in together while Bono worked at Phil Spector's Gold Star Studios. Convinced that Cher could be a star, Bono arranged some recording sessions for her, but she was very nervous and he sang with her. They sounded so good together that they began to perform as the duo Caesar and Cleo, but it was as Sonny and Cher that they made the big time with the 1965 megahit "I Got You Babe." That year the duo had six Top 40 hits and followed up with 1967's "The Beat Goes On." In 1969 the two were married and had a daughter, Chastity.

In 1971, CBS debuted the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour as a summer replacement series.  The show was a smash hit and revived the couple's careers. In addition, Cher had several hit singles in the early Seventies. Things seemed to be going well. But increasing discord behind the scenes led to a breakup in 1974, and their TV series ended abruptly, to the chagrin of CBS and millions of fans. The following year, CBS launched Cher in her own variety series while Bono moved to ABC. The two agreed to a professional reunion and the new Sonny and Cher Show was born. During this time, Cher became pregnant by her estranged second husband, Gregg Allman; in 1976 she gave birth to their son, Elijah Blue. In 1977 the second Sonny and Cher Show was cancelled. Cher tried desperately to salvage her marriage to Allman while appearing in concert with Bono, which was part of their legal settlement. Following her 1979 divorce, Cher was linked with Gene Simmons of the rock group Kiss. She briefly had her own rock band, called Black Rose, and played casino showrooms. But her career seemed directionless until 1982, when she surprised nearly everyone with an excellent performance in the stage production of Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. She was seen by director Mike Nichols, who cast her opposite Meryl Streep in the film Silkwood.

The 1980s witnessed Cher's transformation into a top Hollywood star, as she launched an acting career that was both critically and commercially successful. She earned an Oscar nomination for her role in Silkwood and was in such demand by mid-decade that she appeared in three films in 1987 alone. Throughout, she remained a prime target for the tabloids, not least because of her romance with Rob Camilletti, a man who was 18 years her junior.  Also in 1987 she reinvented her musical career, signing on with former boyfriend David Geffen's new label and churning out eight hit singles in the next six years, including "If I Could Turn Back Time." In 1988 she won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in Moonstruck.
In the Nineties an exhausted Cher reduced her workload in both film and music. She started her own hair-care and home furnishings business and produced fitness videos. Her entrepreneurship was criticized by many in Hollywood, and she was no longer offered choice film roles. Her music career also faltered, only to be resurrected in 1998 with the huge hit, "Believe," which remained at the #1 spot for four weeks. The album of the same name became her best-selling album of all time. And in 1999 she once again earned rave reviews for her acting in the Franco Zeffirelli film Tea With Mussolini.

1980s Filmography
Silkwood (1983)
Mask (1985)
The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Suspect (1987)
Moonstruck (1987)


Critic's Comments
Silkwood (1983)
"[Karen Silkwood's] lesbian roommate [is] played by Cher in a performance that surprised those who thought of her merely as a leftover pop icon. Cher inhabits her role . . . with ease and beguiling naturalness."
 -- People Weekly

Mask (1985)
"After her Oscar-nominated portrayal in Silkwood, Cher no longer had to prove to the world that she could act. But even her admirers might have been astonished by the heat and bite she brings to the role of Rusty, a single mother whose dependence on drugs and too many wrong men never diminished her fierce drive to get her son the medical attention, education, social acceptance, and love he deserves."
-- People Weekly

The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
"The women are played in the movie by Cher, Michelle Pfieffer and Susan Sarandon, and they have a delicious time with their roles . . . . But it's [Jack] Nicholson's show."
 -- Roger Ebert

Suspect (1987)
"Suspect is fun when Cher and [Dennis] Quaid interact; she does a convincing job playing a lonely career woman . . . . But the closing revelations make me rethink the whole plot, and made it look less like a case of jury-tampering than audience-tampering."
-- Roger Ebert

Moonstruck (1987)
"Leads Cher and Nicolas Cage are both solid and appealing, but it's the pic's older lovers -- especially the slendidly controlled Olympia Dukakis -- who give Moonstruck its endearing spirit."
 -- Variety


Awards
1973 -- Golden Globe; Best Actress, TV Series, The Sonny and Cher Show
1983 -- Golden Globe; Best Supporting Actress, Silkwood
1985 -- Cannes Film Festival; Best Actress, Mask
1987 -- Academy Award; Best Actress, Moonstruck