Cher biopic: How she overcame orphanage childhood, Sonny's cheating and suicidal thoughts to become pop Goddess
CHER once longed to turn back time – now a Hollywood studio is going to do it for her.
The Goddess of Pop, who celebrated her 75th birthday this week, is having her life story made into a biopic film, giving fans the chance to see her astonishing struggle to superstardom.
Cher is making the as yet untitled movie with the producers of Mamma Mia! after she starred in the 2018 sequel Here We Go Again.
Since 1960s, Cher has sold well over 100million records, making her one of the best-selling – and best-loved – musical artists of all time.
She's also an acclaimed actor, scooping the Best Actress Oscar for her leading role in Moonstruck (1988) along with armfuls of other accolades.
But her road to becoming one of the world's brightest stars has involved her having come back time and time again from career crises and personal tragedies.
From losing loved ones to being left broke after a divorce, here's how Cher made it to the top.
Left in orphanage
Cher's mother wanted to leave her father just a day after marrying – but they clung on to the relationship until divorcing when Cher was just 10 months old.
Georgia Holt mostly raised Cher as a single mother, despite marrying eight times, including three nuptials with Cher's father.
Cher's didn't meet her dad John Sarkisian, who had drink and gambling problems, until she was 11.
Holt's aspirations as a singer and actress meant they travelled a lot and struggled financially.
At one point, Cher was even placed in the care of a Catholic orphanage.
"The orphanage story has been a touchy one for my mom her whole life, and she didn't want to talk about it," Cher told USA Today.
"I said, 'Mom, why didn't you just march in and take me?' She said, 'I didn't have the power.
"'I didn't have any money or a job, and the church was so strong. I'd go see you every day and you'd be crying.'"
She would later spend months living with her grandparents along with her half-sister, Georgeanne LaPierre, while Holt searched for work.
Their bohemian lifestyle led to dramatic swings in fortune.
"I remember going to school with rubber bands around my shoes to keep my soles on," she told Vanity Fair.
"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."
Sonny's 'stardom' sex
Cher's life dramatically changed when she left home for Los Angeles and met Sonny Bono in 1962.
She was just 16 when she met singer Bono, who offered her a job as his housekeeper.
They soon began singing together and eventually became lovers, going on to have a series of hit songs including I Got You Babe (1965), which knocked The Beatles off the top of the charts.
They married at the end of the decade and had a son, Chaz Bono, but their relationship started to unravel as they indulged in affairs.
The couple also ended up in hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of debt when their art house film Chastity (1969) flopped.
They had a TV comeback with The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour and even put out new albums as husband and wife in the 1970s, but their relationship exploded in the middle of the decade.
"Stardom made Sonny a huge womaniser," Cher told Parade magazine, admitting his infidelity made her consider "jumping off a hotel balcony".
"One woman, or even five, was not enough for him."
They divorced in 1975 with Cher citing "involuntary servitude", claiming he'd deprived her of a rightful share of their earnings.
When the split was finalised, Sonny walked away with millions while Cher was left penniless.
Despite the fallout, Cher says she couldn't stay angry with Sonny.
"The day we got our divorce, he grabbed me, bent me backwards and kissed me, and we were hysterical," she told The Guardian.
"I couldn’t keep angry with him for some reason."
'Words are impossible'
Within four days of splitting from Sonny, Cher married rock star Gregg Allman – a relationship she tried to get out of nine days later.
The Allman Brothers Band star struggled with alcohol and substance abuse, including heroin.
When Cher called him to say it was over, she later said: "He was so high he didn’t even understand me," according to J. Randy Taraborrelli’s biography, Cher.
They reconciled a month later but came close to another divorce until Allman learned Cher was pregnant with their son, Elijah Blue.
In 1978, they split for good and Allman passed away from liver cancer aged 69 in 2017.
"I've tried… Words are impossible," Cher tweeted following news of his death.
Struck down with sickness
Cher's film acting career began to take off in the 1980s – but that too was rocked by grave misfortune.
She won a Golden Globe and a Best Supporting Actor nomination for her part in Silkwood (1983) opposite Meryl Streep and Kurt Russell.
But the peak of her career came four years later when she scooped the Best Actress Academy Award for Moonstruck.
Then disaster struck when she contracted the Epstein-Barr virus that can cause fatigue and fever, leaving her unable to do film work.
"It was terrible. I ended the second year with pneumonia," she told the New York Times.
"All these movie offers were coming in, but I had to turn them all down. I was really, really upset about it."
Needing cash, Cher made millions doing product infomercials which led to her being ridiculed by some critics who said her movie career was finished.
And another personal tragedy came later in the 1990s.
After splitting from Cher, Sonny had gone on to make a surprising switch to Republican politics, ultimately becoming a Californian congressman in 1994.
His political career was tragically cut short when, in 1998, he died in a skiing accident on holiday in Colorado.
"Some people thought that Son wasn’t very bright," Cher said at his funeral.
"But he was smart enough to take an introverted 16-year-old girl and a scrappy little Italian guy with a bad voice and turn them into the most successful and beloved couple of this generation."
'One and only life'
Shortly after Sonny's death, Cher staged another staggering career comeback.
The title track from her 1998 album Believe became the biggest-selling single of all time by a female artist in the UK.
And in 2005, her Farewell Tour became one of the highest grossing in music history, netting $250million.
She's now thought to be worth over £266million.
As if that wasn't enough, she returned to musical film with Burlesque (2010).
One of her songs from the film, You Haven't Seen The Last of Me, led to her becoming the only artist to have a number-one single on a Billboard chart in six consecutive decades, from the 1960s to the 2010s.
During the pandemic, she launched a CherCares charity fund to provide cash to "chronically neglected and forgotten people".
And last November, she helped to rescue the "world's loneliest elephant" that had spent 35 years chained up in a Pakistan zoo.
Now with a movie being made about her incredible life, Cher still isn't wasting a second.
"This is your one and only life and it will go faster than you think," she tweeted this morning.
"This is not a dress rehearsal. And don't sweat the small stuff."
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