CHER SARKISIAN BIOGRAPHY & FILMOGRAPHY
Cher, named Cherilyn Sarkisian at birth, was born May 20, 1946 in El Centro, California to truck driving father John Paul Sarkisian and aspiring actress mother Georgia Holt. John was of Armenian descent, while Georgia’s family could be traced back to England, France, and the Cherokee Indians, making Cher all of these nationalities. Her parents divorced when she was very young, and her mother was left to raise her by herself. She married many times, and one of the men, Gilbert LaPiere, adopted Cher. Georgia, wanting to be an actress herself, made sure to supply her daughter with acting lessons during her youth despite her undiagnosed dyslexia. At age sixteen, due to her difficulty in school, she dropped out and moved to Hollywood.
Here she worked a number of odd jobs and spent her nights immersed in the music scene on the Sunset Strip. In 1962, through a mutual friend, she met eleven years older 'Sonny' Bono, who let her have a place to stay. Being employed by record producer Phil Spector at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood, Bono also got Cher a job as a session singer. She landed backup parts in many songs, eventually releasing her own. By the time she was eighteen, in 1964, their friendship turned into love and they got married. Additionally, the pair coupled together as a singing duo, and by the time she reached nineteen they were a huge success. Between the years 1965 and 1972, they managed to earn a total of six “Top 10” hits. Cher also had her own solo career, and was able to make a name for herself, too.
To increase their fame, Sonny arranged for them to do a film project called “Good Times” (1967). Shortly after, Cher did a movie directed by her husband – a dramatic romance titled “Chastity” (1969). Unfortunately, both turned out to be major flops. They redeemed themselves shortly after, however, with a TV special, “Sonny and Cher: The Nitty Gritty Hour” (1970), which led to more television appearances, including a three year long successful television show, “The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour” (1971-74). Not long after, Cher, on top of keeping up with her music, had her own show called “Cher” (1975-76). However, right before she started the series, she and Sonny split. She remarried to southern rocker and drug addict Greg Allman, but broke up not too long after due to his substance abuse.
Cher and Sonny professionally reunited in 1976 for another TV series, “The Sonny and Cher Show” (1976-77). Audiences didn’t quite accept the divorced couple though as much as they had when they were together, and the show was cancelled.
She decided to move on and find a home on Broadway, where she appeared in “Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean”. Her performance was so well received, that they made a movie in 1982 and Cher was given the lead alongside Karen Black and Sandy Dennis. Next she was cast with Kurt Russell and Meryl Streep in the drama “Silkwood” (1983), in which she played Streep’s lesbian roommate. Her role won her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Cher’s subsequent film, the highly emotional “Mask” (1985), featured her as the druggy biker mom of a child with a facial deformity, and proved that she was a talented actress.
Now fully accepted into the Hollywood community as star, she was handed three opportunities right off the bat. “The Witches of Eastwick” (1987) was comedic fantasy about three witches. “Suspect” (1987) was a dramatic crime thriller that followed the homicide of a judge’s secretary. “Moonstruck” (1987) depicted the dilemma a widowed Brooklyn book-keeper had between her fiancé and his brother, and ended up winning Cher an Oscar for Best Leading Actress. In 1990 she starred in the moderately successful box office flick “Mermaids”, costarring Bob Hoskins, Christina Ricci, and Winona Ryder.
After a short break of doing only commercials on screen, she returned as a wealthy wife whose husband wants to kill her in the dark comedy “Faithless” (1996). She also made a brief appearance as director in a segment of the television drama “If These Walls Could Talk” (1996). Cher starred in the picture, too. In 1999, found a part in the war drama “Tea with Mussolini”, followed by a small role in the Eva Mendes Matt Damon comedy “Stuck on You” (2003). Afterwards she took a long pause from the screen, travelling around touring and doing shows in Vegas. In 2010 she finally made her comeback to the big screen with a starring role in “Burlesque”, where she portrayed a burlesque club owner. Her most recent project in film was as a voice of a lioness in the family feature “Zookeeper” (2011).
Cher remains, to this day, an icon – whether it be in fashion, music, or film. She has won an amazing array of awards, including a Cannes Film Festival Award, three Golden Globes, an Emmy, a Grammy, and an Oscar. She also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame with Sonny Bono for their contributions to television. Even though she is arguably more well known for her music, she once stated that acting was her true love. Cher said it like this: “I think I’m a much better actress than singer. Singing is like going to a party at someone else’s house. Acting is like having the party at your own house. So for me, acting is deeper.” Either way, the singer/actress makes sure that her life is a party, and her spirit shows in the success of her work.
2004 The Very Best of Cher: The Video Hits Collection
2003 Cher: The Farewell Tour2003 Stuck on You
1999 Tea with Mussolini
1996 If These Walls Could Talk
1987 The Witches of Eastwick
1985 Rabbit Ears: The Ugly Duckling
1982 Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean
1977 The Sonny and Cher Show
1974 The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour
1970 Sonny and Cher: Nitty Gritty Hour
1967 Good Times
1967 The Man from U.N.C.L.E.