* Cher’s mother, Georgia Holt (born 1927), was an aspiring singer, actress, and model who has been married eight times; Cher’s father, John Sarkisian, was a heroin addict who abandoned the family when his daughter was a baby.
* In 1963, when Cher was in the 11th grade, she dropped out of high school traveled to Los Angeles, where she met Sonny Bono, with whom she started her musical career (and whom she would eventually marry). Within two years of their initial meeting, “Sonny and Cher” had become major celebrities, recording the Number One hit song “I Got You Babe” in 1965. From the late 1960s to the mid-70s, Cher also scored solo recording hits with songs like “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves,” “Half Breed,” and “Dark Lady” — all of which reached the top of the music charts. In addition, she and her husband hosted their own popular television variety program, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, which ran from 1971-74. In 1975, however, the couple divorced.
* After her divorce from Sonny Bono, Cher continued her singing career and also began to pursue work as an actress. In 1982 she appeared in the Broadway play Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, and she played the role of Sissy in the film adaptation of the play. As the decade progressed, Cher was starring in critically acclaimed movies such as Silkwood (1983), Mask (1985), and Moonstruck (1987), for which she won an Oscar. Cher and Barbra Streisand are the only two female performers in the U.S. to have recorded a #1 song and won an Oscar.
* After George W. Bush’s victory in the 2000 presidential election, the new Justice Department decided to place a blue cover over the bare-breasted statue of Justice that sometimes appeared in the background behind Attorney General John Ashcroft during his speeches. In Cher’s estimation, this amounted to censorship: “What are we going to do next, put shorts on the statue of David and an 1880s bathing suit on ‘Venus Rising’? Maybe they’ll start deciding what books are all right for us to read and we’ll start losing all of our freedoms. This really is unbelievable. It’s shocking.”
* Cher released what she said would be her final studio album, Living Proof, in the United States in 2002 (it was released in Europe in 2001). She then performed a 325-date “Farewell Tour,” which ran from 2002-05.
* In 2004, Cher established a philanthropy known as the Cher Charitable Foundation, whose chief beneficiary has been the Washington-based Global Giving Foundation. The latter funds numerous causes — some political, some not — in regions across the world.
* In 2006, Cher raised $3.5 million by auctioning off furniture, paintings and decorative objects from her home in Malibu, California, as well as a personal items such as memorabilia, jewelry and stage costumes. She gave a portion of the proceeds to the philanthropy she created in 2004, the Cher Charitable Foundation.
* Despite having previously announced plans to retire from live performances, Cher returned to the stage in May 2008 and performed 192 shows over the next 33 months.
* In September 2013, Cher released her first album in 12 years, Closer to the Truth. She then returned to touring in March 2014, to promote the record.
* Over the years, Cher has actively worked for the presidential campaigns of Jimmy Carter, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama. Among her other favorite political figures are Joe Biden (“I just really loveJoe Biden”) and Congressman Dennis Kucinich (“he has great answers”).
* In November 2014, Cher was outraged by a Ferguson, Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict the white policeman who, in an act of self-defense, had shot and killed an 18-year-old black criminal named Michael Brown in a highly publicized incident four months earlier. “Something must b done 2 protect innocent young blk men,” she tweeted.
* According to a September 2014 report by Breitbart.com: “Black choreographer Kevin Wilson claimed in the statement that during auditions for the [Cher’s] ‘Dressed to Kill’ tour, he [had] expressed interest in a particular minority female dancer to Cher, to which she responded, ‘We have too much color on stage.’ Wilson wrote that he was instructed to wrangle a ‘white, blonde dancer’ instead, and that Cher advised him to shy away from casting ‘dark skinned black dancers’ for the remainder of the tour.”
In a related story, CBS News reported: “Wilson and dancer Suzanne Easter, who are both African-American, are suing Cher along with former colleague Jacquelyn Dowsett Ballinger claiming they were wrongfully fired after complaining to managers that another dancer assaulted an unidentified woman in a hotel room while on tour. Wilson and Easter say race was a motivating factor in their dismissal, while Ballinger, 42, is alleging age discrimination.”
* When Islamic jihadists (seeking to “die as martyrs” for their cause) killed 12 people in a January 2015 attack on the Paris offices of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, Cher tweeted: “I know nothing about fighting terrorism,but if their objective is 2Die, can’t police throw tear gas then shoot them with Dart’s. No Martyrs.”
* Cher has been married twice and has two children: (1) Her daughter, Chastity Bono, who underwent female-to-male gender transition in 2008 and now goes by the name Chaz, is from her first marriage to the late Sonny Bono. (2) Her son Elijah Blue Allman, born in 1976, is from her 10-day marriage to musician Gregg Allman.
* Cher also had a successful and lucrative career starring in infomercials, mostly selling beauty products.