01 Jul CHER ~ A Cultural Phenomenon Forever Changing Celebrity Fashion
Cher, 74, born May 20, 1946 has reportedly sold 100 million records to date, and is one of the world’s best-selling music artists. Her achievements include a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, an Academy Award, three Golden Globe Awards, a Cannes Film Festival Award, and awards from the Kennedy Center Honors and the Council of Fashion Designers of America. She is the only artist to date to have a number-one single on a Billboard chart in six consecutive decades, from the 1960s to the 2010s. Outside of her music and acting, she is noted for her political views, social media presence, philanthropic endeavors, and social activism, including LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS prevention.
Cher and Sonny Bono became friends, and eventually fell in love. Sonny had wanted to launch Cher as a solo artist, although, she encouraged him to perform with her because she suffered from stage fright. Sonny began joining her onstage singing the harmonies. Cher disguised her nervousness by looking at Sonny; she later commented that she sang to the people through him.
“I Got You Babe” reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and became, according to AllMusic’s Bruce Eder, “one of the biggest-selling and most beloved pop/rock hits of the mid-’60s”. In 2003, Rolling Stone listed it among “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time“.
Cher and Sonny had marital problems and battled in court over finances and the custody of their daughter, Chastity, which was eventually granted to Cher. Their divorce was finalized on June 26, 1975. She later married Gregg Allman and had a son, Elijah Blue. This marriage also ended in divorce in 1978. In 2017, Gregg Allman, died of liver cancer.
A single mother with two children, Cher realized that she had to make a choice about the direction of her singing career. Deciding to temporarily abandon her desire to be a rock singer, she signed with Casablanca Records and launched a comeback with the single “Take Me Home” and the album of the same name, both of which capitalized on the disco craze. Both the album and the single became instant successes. Despite her initial lack of enthusiasm for disco music, she changed her mind after the success, commenting, “I never thought I would want to do disco … [but] it’s terrific!”
After the success of the movie, Moonstruck, she was so worried about her next career move that she was overly cautious. In the early 1990s, she contracted the Epstein–Barr virus and developed chronic fatigue syndrome, which left her too exhausted to sustain her music and film careers. Because she needed to earn money and was not healthy enough to work on other projects, she starred in infomercials launching health, beauty, and diet products, which earned her close to $10 million in fees. She told Ladies’ Home Journal, “Suddenly I became the Infomercial Queen and it didn’t occur to me that people would focus on that and strip me of all my other things.”
Following Sonny Bono’s death in a skiing accident in 1998, Cher delivered a tearful eulogy at his funeral, calling him “the most unforgettable character” she had met. That month, Sonny and Cher received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Television. Later that year, Cher published The First Time, a collection of autobiographical essays of “first-time” events in her life, which critics praised as down-to-earth and genuine.
Cher has employed various musical styles, including folk rock, pop rock, power ballads, disco, new wave music, rock music, punk rock, arena rock, and hip hop; she said she has done this to “remain relevant and do work that strikes a chord”.
The 1998 song “Believe” has an electronic vocal effect proposed by Cher, and was the first commercial recording to feature Auto-Tune—an audio processor originally intended to disguise or correct off-key inaccuracies in vocal music recordings—as a deliberate creative effect.
For Moonstruck, Cher was ranked 1st on Billboard’s list of “The 100 Best Acting Performances by Musicians in Movies”, and her performance was described as “the standard by which you mentally check all others”. Moonstruck was acknowledged by the American Film Institute as the eighth best romantic comedy film of all time.
Through her 1970s television shows, Cher became a sex symbol with her inventive and revealing Mackie-designed outfits, and fought the network censors to bare her navel. In 1972, after she was featured on the annual “Best Dressed Women” lists, Mackie stated: “There hasn’t been a girl like Cher since Dietrich and Garbo. She’s a high-fashion star who appeals to people of all ages.” Time magazine’s Cady Lang described Cher as a “cultural phenomenon [who] has forever changed the way we see celebrity fashion.”
Cher has attracted media attention for her physical appearance—particularly her youthful looks and her tattoos. Journalists have often called her the “poster girl” of plastic surgery. Her normalised image … now acts as a standard against which other women will measure, judge, discipline and ‘correct’ themselves.”
In 1992, Madame Tussauds wax museum honored Cher as one of the five “most beautiful women of history” by creating a life-size statue. She was ranked 26th on VH1’s list of the “100 Sexiest Artists” published in 2002.
Cher’s presence on social media has drawn analysis from journalists. Time named her “Twitter’s most outspoken (and beloved) commentator”. The New York Times writer Jenna Wortham commended Cher on her social media usage, saying “Most celebrities’ social-media feeds feel painfully self-aware and thirsty … In her own way, Cher is an outlier and thrives on a version of nakedness and honesty that is rarely celebrated in the public eye.
Cher’s primary philanthropic endeavors have included support of health research and patients’ quality of life, anti-poverty initiatives, veterans’ rights, and vulnerable children. The Cher Charitable Foundation supports international projects such as the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund, Operation Helmet, and the Children’s Craniofacial Association.
Cher 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.
Cher’s older child, Chaz Bono (born Chastity Bono), first came out as a lesbian at age 17, which reportedly caused Cher to feel “guilt, fear and pain”. However, she 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”. 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. In May 1998, she received the GLAAD Vanguard Award for having “made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for lesbians and gay men”. On June 11, 2009, Chaz came out as a transgender man, and his transition from female to male was legally finalized on May 6, 2010.
In 2018, Cher returned to film for the romantic musical comedy film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again
In September 2018, Cher embarked on the Here We Go Again Tour, which is set to finish on December 5, 2020.
During 2018, Cher used Twitter to announce she was working on four new projects for the next two years: a Christmas album; a second album of ABBA covers; an autobiography; and a biographical film about her life. In October 2019, Cher launched a new perfume, Cher Eau de Couture, which was four years in the making. Described as “genderless”, it is Cher’s second fragrance after 1987’s Uninhibited. On February 4, 2020, Cher was announced as the new face of fashion brand Dsquared2. May 2020, Cher released her first Spanish-language single, a cover of ABBA’s “Chiquitita“. Proceeds from the single were donated to UNICEF following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cher has strong political views and supported many campaigns and causes over the years. Cher has repeatedly reinvented herself through various personas and believes that getting old does not have to mean becoming obsolete.
Cher’s net worth is reportedly $360 million.