Cher and Sonny Bono had a bizarre romantic relationship even after breaking up. They once reunited on TV and sang together, unbeknownst to Cher, that it would be their last time.
Former Mayor of Palm Springs Sonny Bono got killed in a skiing accident on January 5, 1998, while on vacation with his family in South Lake Tahoe, California.
The 62-year-old and his now widowed fourth wife, Mary, visited the Heavenly Ski Resort, located on the Nevada-California border, with their youngest son and daughter.
Pictured: (L) Singing and Television duo Sonny & Cher in 1960 in the United Kingdom. (R) Cher and Sonny Bono pose for a promotional photo for "The Sonny and Cher Show" in 1970. | Photo: Getty Images
The tragic incident occurred when Bono left his family to ski alone on the afternoon of that fateful day. Several hours later, he was reported missing, and his body was discovered that evening.
BONO'S TRAGIC DEATH ALL ALONE
According to the police, the “Hairspray” actor had skied into a wooded area and hit a tree. As a result, he died from a massive head injury.
In a heartwarming send-off, his former wife singer Cher attended his funeral on January 10 at St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, along with political elites and fellow Hollywood personalities.
She sat in front of former president Gerald Ford, and Speaker of House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) was across the aisle from '70s star Tony Orlando.
Actress Cher speaks during the Women's March "Power to the Polls" voter registration tour launch at Sam Boyd Stadium on January 21, 2018, in Las Vegas, Nevada | Photo: Getty Images
CHER’S EULOGY AT BONO’S FUNERAL
The superstar did not miss her ex-husband's celebration of life, where she honored him and their relationship in her heartfelt eulogy.
Dubbed the “Goddess of Pop,” Cher revealed she met Bono in a Los Angeles coffee shop when she was a teenager and recalled what she thought of him upon seeing the Michigan native for the first time:
“When I was 16 years old, I met Sonny Salvatore Phillip Bono. And the first time I ever saw him, he walked in this room, and I had never seen anything like him before in my life.”
Cher poses with ex-husband Sonny Bono for a photo session on July 22, 1977 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images
“Bono walked into this room, and I swear to God, I saw him, and like everybody else was just washed away in this soft, focus filter, kind of like when Maria Saltoni at the dance,” she explained.
She lied to him about her age, stating that she was 18 while divulging that she was the most unusual 16-year-old. “I had all kinds of phobias and all kinds of insecurities and all kinds of energies that just couldn’t be harnessed,” Cher disclosed, adding:
“Except Son saw something. And I didn’t have a place to stay, and he said, ‘You know, you can come and live with me because I have twin beds and I don’t find you attractive.’”
While her young self was perplexed by the statement, she was only grateful to have a place to stay and therefore accepted his offer. Speaking on their living condition, the actress shared when people came over, they would ask Bono who she was, and he would describe her as "just Cher."
They spent that period together, and at that time, he took care of her. Cher told her mother that she was living with a stewardess, and every time she called her, she told her parent to first call before she came over:
“Every time my mom would call, I’d grab all of Sonny’s clothes and run down the street and throw all his clothes into my girlfriends’ living room window.”
According to Cher, nothing romantic happened between her and the then 27-year-old until her mom made her move out. The veteran star said that she and Bono locked eyes when she was busy packing her bags, and both started crying for no reason.
At that moment, Cher told him the truth about her actual age and revealed she was instead sixteen years old going on seventeen, telling him that she could not continue with her life without him:
"'So, if my mother threatens to put you in jail, could you just do it anyway.' My mother kept threatening him all that year. But then I turned 18, and everything was all right."
Husband and wife singing duo Sonny and Cher perform on September 20, 1966 in London | Photo: Getty Images
THEIR HIGH-PROFILE MARRIAGE
After being separated, the pair realized that they were in love. Bono and Cher tied the knot on October 27, 1964, and they became an overnight sensation as a power couple.
Both their television career was booming at the time, but on the other hand, the duo's music success dwindled. Unknowingly to fans, their marriage was on the rocks.
Cher and Sonny Bono pose for a promotional photo for "The Sonny and Cher Show" in 1970 | Photo: Getty Images
Cher told Bono that she wanted to leave him when everything went south. However, the "Troll" star convinced her to keep up appearances as a happily married couple for the sake of their careers.
Bono had his wish granted because the "Burlesque" star went along with the plan, and they appeared at the 30th Golden Globe Awards together in January 1973. They went on other events after that.
CHER FILED FOR DIVORCE AFTER PRETENDING
But on February 20, 1974, Cher admitted that she could not keep up with the façade anymore and filed for a divorce. She cited involuntary servitude as her reason for filing.
A year later, they parted ways, and their divorce was finalized on June 20, 1975. The pair welcomed a daughter named Chastity, now going by Chaz, 52, as a transgender man.
Sonny and Cher smiling and holding their infant daughter Chastity at Zsa Zsa Gabor's opening at "The Flamingo," Las Vegas, Nevada | Photo: Getty Images
THEIR MEMORABLE REUNION ON TV
The Sonny & Cher duo reunited when she attended the opening of one of his restaurants, resulting in a collaboration for a variety show.
Bono and Cher also made a surprise reunion during an appearance in November 1987 on "Late Night with David Letterman," where the host persuaded them to sing "I Got You, Babe."
Singer Sonny Bono arrives at the Los Angeles International Airport on June 12, 1977 in Los Angeles, California | Photo: Getty Images
When they appeared on the show, Bono had remarried Mary, 60, and was expecting their second child, daughter Chianna, 30. Their firstborn is son Chesare, 33. Asked why his marriage to Cher failed, he shared:
"It was just hard, I think, for two people to first be in love and then be partners in show business together, and go into business together and stay married. It's almost impossible."
Actors Sonny and Cher Bono pose with their daughter Chastity in front of a staircase on March 1, 1973 | Photo: Getty Images
FRIENDLY RELATIONSHIP POST-DIVORCE
He further explained that he and his former wife were good friends and that they had a relationship only the two of them understood:
"We're good friends. Cher and I have a thing that no one else will understand, we could call each other names, but when we see each other, it goes right back to the beginning."
The “Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again” starlet echoed her former castmate's statement adding they have an unusual relationship :
"We have a strange relationship that no one will ever understand, except us, and I don't think I even understand it a lot."
CHER DREADS THE AGING PROCESS
Despite their rocky relationship, the twosome retained a meaningful and deep love for each other. After outliving the songwriter, Cher is now 75 years old, somehow finds getting older scary.
When asked whether aging worried her, the California native told The Guardian in December 2020: “I hate it. Any woman who is honest will say it’s not as much fun."