Sonny Bono's Grown-Up Children: Meet Them All
Sonny Bono had a career that just wouldn’t quit. He evolved from one of the most famous singing and acting sensations, alongside his glamorous ex-wife, Cher, to a respected congressman and activist mayor.
As a father figure, Sonny was sometimes absent in his children's lives. How did this affect them? Let's find out!
Bono’s first daughter inherited his passion for food and the namesake of his thriving restaurant in Long Beach.
“The best time was always in the kitchen,” Christy recalled. “It was where we shared so much family time. It was always based around food.”
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Generations of family recipes helped Christy in beginning her career in the restaurant business. She named her second eatery in Naples' upscale area in Long Beach after her 8-year-old son, Nico.
Since Christy opened the upscale eatery in 1994, business increased by 30% and almost quadrupled in size. The success gave her a sense of accomplishment, but there's more to Christy than that, as she said:
"Yes, [being a Bono] is a part of my life. And yes, it does bring people in here. But it doesn’t really change who I am. I’m a businesswoman and a mother.”
Of course, visitors to the restaurant knew that there was always a chance that they could catch a glimpse of her celebrity parents.
Sonny did stop by a few times before his tragic accident, but step-mom Cher, though close to Christy, has not yet been spotted at the restaurant.
Christy Bono tones down her birthright, and the eateries do not suggest a superstar demeanor. Christy’s mother, Donna Rankin, was Sonny Bono’s first wife.
Almost two years after Sonny’s divorce from Donna, he married Cher in October 1964; the dynamic singing duo also had a child, Chaz Bono, born on March 4, 1969.
Chaz followed his parents into showbiz and became an actor but also an acclaimed author. He wrote three books that include “Transition,” released in May 2011.
The book gave a candid account of Chaz’s lifelong struggle with gender identity. Born female, Cher and Sonny named him after the 1969 movie “Chastity,” written by Sonny and starring Cher.
Chaz underwent gender confirmation surgery and legally changed his name from Chastity Sun Bono to Chaz Salvatore Bono on June 11, 2009.
After the death of Joan Stephens, Chaz dated Jennifer Elia, but after their break up in 2011, he feared that love wasn’t for him.
Chaz commented in 2015 that he seems to "repel women," but two years later, everything changed, and lady love smiled on him.
Chaz met and fell in love with the former child star, Shara Blue Mathes, and the two have been together happily ever since.
Feeling Out Of Place
Similar to his parents, Chaz began his vocation in music, performing in a group named Ceremony back in 1988. He decided to try acting but said he wasn’t feeling content in his female body.
He said that there were several years where he knew he was transgender but was afraid to do anything about it.
And his changeover wasn't easy. In 2011, Chaz went on to partake in season 13 of "Dancing with the Stars." This was a pivotal time in his life.
Combined with professional dancer Lacey Schwimmer, he danced away and was eyeing to show the spectators a “different kind of man.”
But then, after a few weeks of getting low-slung marks, the two were kicked off the show. His mother, Cher, encouraged them.
However, Schwimmer had said she thought the counting of scores and commentaries they received were not fair. Either way, Chaz remains one of the greatest and unforgettable competitors of DWTS.
Fond Memories Of Sonny
Sonny did have a charming nickname for Chaz growing up. This name was Fred. Chaz explained that this nickname was created when his father once took him to a doll and toy game store.
They looked at key-chains with names on them, but the store didn't have a key-chain with Chastity's name.
So, Sonny suggested they pick a more common name, like Fred. This was ironically a name that stuck for years. Chaz looks back on his time with his father fondly and wishes he could have seen his transition.
Chaz's improved lifestyle
Chaz was also fraught with weight problems for years but after making his alteration. But he was finally feeling content enough and decided to attempt an improved lifestyle.
Subsequently, he changed to eating mostly grains, and supplemented copious amounts of fruit and vegetables to his food regime, and dropped an astounding 85 pounds!
Sonny’s fourth and final marriage came two years later, on March 1, 1986. Two children, Chesare and Chianna, came from this union with Mary Bono.
Nine years old when his father died, Chesare turned to drugs to cope with the devastating loss of his father, and it led to an addiction to the painkiller Oxycodone.
By the time he graduated from high school, he was fully dependant on the drug. He could not handle the pressures of his lifestyle after the tragic death of his iconic father.
The Road To Rehab
During his freshman year at the University of California, Riverside, Chesare branched out to heroin and realized it gave him the exact feeling as Oxycodone, exasperating his drug problem.
After getting busted at a rehab center, Chesare went to Cirque Lodge in Utah in 2007, where he eventually got his drug use under control.
Chesare turned his life around and went back to college while working as an assistant to Barry Manilow’s tour manager. This lifestyle change took time and dedication but eventually, he was able to get his life back.
According to Chianna’s Linkedin profile, she became involved with government support services in 2010 and is a Delivery Support Specialist in the Washington D.C. metro area at Highlight Technologies.
In addition, she also gave birth to her first child on what would have been Sonny’s 77th birthday and called him Sonny William Hrabe, but she keeps a pretty low social profile.
After Sonny’s death, his relationships made headlines again when Sean Machu was refused access to his funeral.
Claimed to be Sonny’s illegitimate child with the former actress and model, Mimi Machu, in 1964, Sean told PEOPLE of his repeated rejection by the Bono family.
“I was abandoned and rejected by my father my whole life,” Sean said. “I didn’t want to be rejected again at his funeral.”
Six months after Sonny’s death, Sean filed a claim against his alleged father’s estate and insisted on being his son. However, this was suspicious.
After the results of the DNA testing came back, Sean suddenly dropped his claim against the $1.72 million estate.
Similar to Sonny, Cher also had numerous relationships. We took a look inside the relationships with her famous husbands and boyfriends.
On November 3, 1954, Sonny met, fell in love, and married his first wife, Donna Rankin. Four years later, the couple welcomed their first daughter named Christine.
Everything was going well until they divorced in 1962. Sonny and Cher went from being roommates to tying the knot in 1964 but filed for divorce in 1974.
Sonny married his third wife, Susie Coelho, on December 31, 1981. Their union lasted a mere three years, and the couple divorced without any children on November 21, 1984.
After his divorce from Susie Coelho, Sonny Bono got married to his fourth wife, Mary Whitaker, in 1985. The couple had a son and daughter, born in 1988 and 1991, respectively.
There is no doubt that Sonny Bono was a great musician with the rarest of talents, who inspired so many people in the world today.
Although he did not have a great romantic history as he kept going from one woman to another and had kids with three of the women he married, he is still a legend.
The music industry was shocked by his sudden death while skiing. The news was tragic and sad to everyone, but his music is still a source of inspiration. Let us know your thoughts on Sonny Bono's love life in the comments.