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"Charleston was once the rage, uh huh."

- Sonny & Cher

Sonny and Cher were both inducted to the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998, right after Sonny's death in a skiing accident.

Sonny & Cher were an American pop music duo, actors, singers and entertainers made up of husband-and-wife team Sonny and Cher Bono in the 1960s and 1970s. The couple started their career in the mid-1960s as R&B backing singers for record producer Phil Spector.

Cherilyn Sarkisian first met Salvatore Bono in a Los Angeles coffee shop in November 1962, when she was sixteen. The older Bono (11 years her senior) was working for record producer Phil Spector at Gold Star Studios in Hollywood. The two became best friends, eventual lovers, and were supposedly married in 1964, but Bono says in his autobiography that it was not an official marriage (they actually were legally wed after Chastity was born).

Through Bono, Cher started as a session singer, and sang backup on several of Spector’s classic recordings, including "Be My Baby" by the Ronettes, "You've Lost That Loving Feeling" by The Righteous Brothers and Darlene Love's "A Fine, Fine Boy".

In the composition by Darlene Love, the listener can clearly hear Cher and Sonny close to the mic (along with Love, who recorded her own backing vocals).

With Bono continuing to write, arrange and produce the songs, the couple's first incarnation was as the duo "Caesar and Cleo". They received little attention, despite releasing some singles in 1964: "The Letter", with Vault Records, and "The Letter", "Do You Wanna Dance" and "Love Is Strange", with Reprise Records.

In September 1964, they released "Baby Don't Go" under the name of Sonny & Cher, which became their first regional hit. The song was later included on the 1965 Reprise compilation Baby Don't Go – Sonny & Cher and Friends, which also included songs from artists such as Bill Medley, The Lettermen and The Blendells.

The duo released their first album Look at Us in the summer of 1965. The album contained the smash hit and eventual number-one single "I Got You Babe". Look at Us sold briskly, peaking at number two on the Billboard chart for eight weeks in the later part of 1965.

The couple soon appeared on many of the top television shows of the era including The Ed Sullivan Show, American Bandstand, Where The Action Is, Hollywood A Go-Go, Hollywood Palace, Hullabaloo, Beat Club, Shindig!, Ready Steady Go! and Top of the Pops. They also appeared as themselves in the film Wild on the Beach, singing "It's Gonna Rain". They also appeared in a third season episode of The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,"The Hot Number Affair" , playing Jerry and Ramona (below).

During 1965, five of their songs were in US Billboard Top 20, a record passed only by Elvis Presley and behind famous artists like The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and others. Periodic solo releases by Cher continued during this period, including major successes with "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)", and Burt Bacharach & Hal David's theme from "Alfie" (as heard in the motion picture Alfie, as well as a single release), both in 1966. They did become briefly controversial in Los Angeles for siding with the young people being harassed on the Sunset Strip; as a result, they were removed from their promised position of honor in the Tournament of Roses Parade in January 1967.

As the followup to the success of Look at Us, they released their second studio album in April 1966, The Wondrous World of Sonny & Chér, which peaked at number 34. The couple also traveled and performed around the world, and tickets were some of the hottest at the time. Fans lined up to buy Sonny and Cher tickets for their first tour, the Wondrous World Tour. The two became a quick sensation, dressed in animal skins with Bono wearing knee high caveman boots and Cher going barefoot.

In 1967 Sonny and Cher released their third album, In Case You're In Love. It peaked at number 46 in the U.S. charts. It contained two hit singles, both written by Bono, "The Beat Goes On" (#6 on the Billboard Hot 100) and "Little Man" (#21 on the Billboard Hot 100), that peaked at the number one in five European countries.

In an attempt to capitalize on the duo’s initial success, Bono speedily arranged a film project for the duo to star in. But the 1967 feature, Good Times, was a major bomb, despite the efforts of fledgling director William Friedkin and co-star George Sanders. After Good Times flopped in 1968, Columbia Pictures immediately sold rights to their intended follow-up film Speedway to MGM. The couple were replaced by Elvis Presley and Nancy Sinatra. In 1969, another film, Chastity, starring Cher, written and produced by Sonny, was also another commercial bomb.

Sonny and Cher's career had stalled by 1968 as album sales quickly dried up. Their gentle, easy-listening pop sound had become unpopular in an era of psychedelic rock. Bono decided to forge ahead, carving a new career for the duo in Las Vegas resorts, where they sharpened their public persona with Cher as the wise-cracking singer, and Bono as the good-natured recipient of her insults. In reality, Bono controlled every aspect of their act, from the musical arrangements to the joke-writing. While success was slow to come, their luck improved when network TV talent scouts attended a show, noting their potential appeal for a variety series.

In 1971, Sonny and Cher had stopped producing hit singles. Cher's first feature film, Chastity, was not a success, and the duo decided to sing and tell jokes in nightclubs across the country. CBS head of programming Fred Silverman saw them one evening and offered them their own show. The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour was originally supposed to be a summer replacement series, but high ratings gave Silverman sufficient reason to bring it back later that year, with a permanent spot on the schedule.

Taped at CBS Television City in Hollywood, the show was a Top 20 hit in the ratings for its entire run. Every episode, Sonny would exchange banter with Cher, allowing Cher to put down Sonny in a comic manner. Comedy skits would follow, mixed in with musical numbers. Three of the regular cast members who regularly appeared in sketches were Teri Garr (Young Frankenstien), Murray Langston (below left, who later found brief fame as "The Unknown Comic" on The Gong Show), and Steve Martin (below middle,who also served as one of the show's writers). Other writers included: Chris Bearde, Allan Blye (Canadian writer and producer, known for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour (1967), and Bizarre (1980), Bob Einstein (AKA Super Dave Osbourn), Jim Mulligan (who had worked on Lagh-In) and George Burditt (a writer-producer who wrote dozens of episodes of the hit sitcom "Three's Company" and served as its executive producer from 1981-84). Terri Garr (below right) was also a regular cast member on The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, dancing and acting in comedy sketches. Garr is best remembered for roles in: Mel Brooks comedy Young Frankenstein (1974) as Inga, Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977), Oh, God! (1977) and Tootsie (1982) for which she was nominated for an Academy Award for her supporting actress. Garr was also featured as secretary Roberta Lincoln in the Star Trek Original Series episode "Assignment: Earth" (1968). The episode was designed as a backdoor pilot episode for a proposed new series, produced by Roddenberry, to be called Assignment: Earth featuring the adventures of Gary Seven and Roberta Lincoln. Though the series never sold the characters have turned up in various Star Trek novels and comic books.

The show was scheduled to return for a fourth season in October 1974. However, Sonny and Cher separated that fall, resulting in the cancellation of the show. They both starred in separate variety shows over the next two years. Sonny Bono's 1974 variety series, The Sonny Comedy Revue, led off the ABC Sunday night lineup, but lasted just 13 episodes. While it retained the creative team behind The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour, Bono's solo effort was largely a victim of the show's weak time slot and the established hits it faced on NBC and CBS. Starting in early 1975, Cher also returned to network television with her solo variety show, entitled Cher. It did well during its abbreviated run and was renewed for the 1975-76 season. However, during the second season Cher herself decided to end the show to work with Sonny again. Although Sonny's show had all the cast and crew from the comedy hour and was expected to be the bigger hit, Cher's show easily became the greater success in the ratings. Due to contracts, Cher was unable to perform many of her sketches and characters from the comedy hour on her show; Sonny had them on his show, instead. In February 1976, the bitterness of their divorce behind them, the couple reunited for one last try with The Sonny and Cher Show. It was basically the same as their first variety series but with different writers to create new sketches and songs. The revived series garnered enough ratings to be renewed for a second season, but by this time, the variety show genre was already in steep decline, and Sonny and Cher finally ending its run in 1977.

In the decade they spent together, Sonny and Cher sold 40 million records worldwide. Performing under her first name, Cher went on to a highly successful career as a solo singer and actress, appearing in the films Silkwood (which earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1983), Mask, The Witches of Eastwick, and Moonstruck, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1988.

Cher is the only certified female performer in music history to have had a US #1 single in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. She is one of only six actors/actresses to have both a number one single and an Oscar for acting. The others are Frank Sinatra (1954), Barbra Streisand (1968), Judy Garland (Honorary Oscar) (1940), Jamie Foxx (2005) and Bing Crosby (1945).

Cher was the subject of an episode of The X-Files (1993) called "The Post-Modern Prometheus" (November 3rd, 1997). This episode concerned a deformed man who adored Cher because of her role in Mask (1985), in which her character cared for her deformed son. Several Cher songs appeared on the soundtrack of this episode, including "Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves" and "The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore". At the end of the episode, Mulder and Scully take the Cher fan to a Cher concert, where they hear her sing her cover of "Walkin' in Memphis". Cher, a huge fan of "The X-Files", was asked to play herself in this scene but declined the producers' offer. However, she revealed on The X-Files Movie Special (1998) that once the episode aired, she regretted not having appeared in it.

Sonny decided he had had enough of show business the day he was on the set of Fantasy Island (1977), shooting a scene with Hervé Villechaize as Tattoo, and misremembered Tattoo's name. Villechaize flew into a rage, sputtering at Bono, and Bono (as he related later) literally asked himself what the hell was he doing there. He became interested in politics rather late in life, when he decided he wanted a bigger sign for the restaurant he had opened in Palm Springs (California) and ran straight into red tape, dealing with the city government. Bono had never voted or registered before, but resolved to change things by running for mayor. He won the election, served a successful four-year term (lending his name and fame to the local economy), and wound up pursuing a whole new career as a politician. Later he was eventually elected to Congress as a U.S. Republican Representative from California.

Sonny and Cher's only child, Chastity Sun Bono (right), was born on March 4th, 1969. In April 1995, Chastity Bono came out as a lesbian in an interview with The Advocate, a national gay and lesbian magazine. The 1998 book Family Outing detailed how Bono's coming out "catapulted me into a political role that has transformed my life, providing me with affirmation as a lesbian, as a woman, and as an individual." In the same book, Bono reported that Cher, who was both a gay icon and an ally of LGBT communities, was quite uncomfortable with the news at first and "went ballistic" before coming to terms with it. Cher has since become an outspoken LGBT rights activist.

Chastity Bono's relationship with her father became strained after Sonny became a Republican Congressman. The differences in their political views separated them, and the two had not spoken for more than a year at the time of Sonny's fatal skiing accident in January 1998.

Chastity Bono worked as a writer at large for The Advocate, as a social activist, became a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign, promoting National Coming Out Day, and served as Entertainment Media Director for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). In mid-2008, Chastity Bono began undergoing a physical and social gender transition from female to male. This was confirmed in June 2009 by his publicist, who identified Bono's preferred name as Chaz Bono and said, "It is Chaz's hope that his choice to transition will open the hearts and minds of the public regarding this issue, just as his coming out did." GLAAD and the Empowering Spirits Foundation were quick to offer praise and support for the announcement. Bono's legal transition was completed on May 8th, 2010, when a California court granted his request for a gender and name change. He chose the name "Chaz Salvatore Bono" in honor of his parents. Bono made Becoming Chaz, a documentary film about his gender transition that premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

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