Cher and Sonny Bono made up one of the most iconic couples of our time. Their relationship was unique for a lot of reasons–one being their striking age difference.
Sonny and Cher met in 1963 when Cher was 16 and Sonny was 27 (he was married at the time but separated). According to Biography, when the two met, Cher’s friend had actually caught Sonny’s eye. But Cher, right away, was drawn to her later-husband.
“Everyone just disappeared,” she told Elle in 2018 of first seeing Sonny. “He was the most unusual person I’d ever seen.”
Soon after meeting, Cher moved in with Sonny. She needed a place to stay and he’d moved into a nearby apartment to her old place (she’d been kicked out by her roommates). He said she could stay with him if she cleaned the apartment. She agreed but, reportedly, never did much cleaning.
In the beginning, the pair was platonic.
“It wasn’t a fiery, sexy thing with us, but rather paternal, like we were bound together, two people who needed each other, almost for protection,” Cher said in 1975.
In an interview two years later, Sonny said Cher “really wanted to be protected.”
Eventually, though, an attraction was born.
Cher’s mother on her daughter’s relationship with Sonny
In 1975, Cher’s mother spoke to Ladies’ Home Journal about her daughter’s attraction to Sonny. Cher had been abandoned by her father and the singer’s mother couldn’t help but notice how similar Sonny looked to her father.
“[I]t’s strange,” said Cher’s mother, “but at that time Sonny was the spitting image of her father, Johnny Sarkisian. I think the father image had a great deal to do with Cher’s feelings, but I didn’t think it would have helped it I’d told that to Cher. When a girl is as much in love with a man as she was, not much can be done about it.”
As their personal lives grew more intertwined so did their careers. In 1969 they got married and had a child.
In 2010, Cher said she hadn’t minded, even preferred, letting Sonny take the reins in their lives.
“I had such a hero worship of Sonny, long after we were together. I just thought he was great,” she said, according to Biography.
Sonny and Cher divorce
But as the years went on their relationship grew complicated. They both started seeing other people while married, not wanting to give up the success of “Sonnny & Cher.” However, in 1974, Sonny filed for a separation. Immediately after, Cher wanted a divorce.
Things got messy and for years later the couple would make little negative remarks about the other in the press here and there. But when Cher was on Late Night with David Letterman in 1987 she said, “Even if we don’t say nice things about each other, it doesn’t mean anything. I know Sonny too well.”
When Sonny died in 1998, Cher read a touching eulogy at his funeral.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s up there taking care of me. He did a good job of looking after me in the sixties and I’m quite happy for him to do it again,” Biography reports her saying after Sonny’s death.
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