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The Goddess of Pop's Life Wasn't Always So Glamorous – Remembering Cher's Personal Tragedies

Titi Dokubo
May 20, 2022
11:10 A.M.

The undisputed Goddess of Pop, Cher, has conquered the music industry with her tremendous voice, beautiful features, and razor-sharp tongue. Despite all her wins, she has also known pain and dealt with personal tragedies.


On May 20, 2022, Cher turned 76 and it's been six decades since she began to carve her niche in the industry towards becoming an icon of female empowerment paving the way for Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga, and countless other pop divas.

Sonny Bono discovered her when she was just 16, but even after they split years later, she went on to become a star in her own right in the midst of a notoriously male-dominated music business.


Cher's hard work, talent, sheer force of will, and successes ultimately earned her the title of the "Goddess of Pop." Her iconic hit "Believe" became the 90s' disco anthem, and as the years went by, she hopped on almost every music trend and ultimately became a part of every pop story or legend.

Cher is constantly changing as she believes that the beat goes on. Despite her successes, she is no stranger to struggles and tragedies, as these have marked her life.



Cher had an unstable childhood. A single mother raised her after her parents split when she was ten months old. Her mother, Georgia Holt, left her in an orphanage because she struggled financially. Holt said:

"She [the mother superior] wanted me to put Cher up for adoption. I would go over and look through this little window, and Cher would be standing at her crib crying."

Later, Cher started living with her grandparents and half-sister. She remembered that there were times things were so bad that she once went to school with shoes that needed rubber bands for the soles to stay.


Having struggled with dyslexia, Cher found school very difficult. Her case was so bad that she could not even tell numbers apart and could not read because she did not enjoy reading books.

It was not until she met Sonny that she finally got to read a book that she enjoyed. He gave her "The Saracen Blade," which she read at her own pace and developed her love for reading.



Cher was initially supposed to be Sonny's housekeeper, but they fell in love, created one of their most outstanding hit singles, "I Got You, Babe," in 1965, and married before the decade was over.

Unfortunately, their marriage had its share of troubles. They were deep in debt (in the hundreds of thousands of dollars) and Sonny began to have affairs, leaving Cher penniless after they split.

Sonny Bono and Cher at the 45th Annual Academy Awards on March 27, 1973 | Source: Getty Images

Sonny Bono and Cher at the 45th Annual Academy Awards on March 27, 1973 | Source: Getty Images


In the 1980s, the icon began acting, and as her career took off, she developed "stage fright" after an encounter that almost cost her her life. It happened during her first on-stage gig.


When she arrived at the Broadway theater, a stranger greeted her, and when she thought he was going to shake her hand, he grabbed her arm and put it behind her back while threatening to kill her if she made a sound.


Luckily for her, people waiting to see her realized something was wrong, started screaming, and ran towards her, frightening her attacker, who ran away.

Cher is not sweating the small stuff.

Cher later revealed that the incident left her afraid of meeting fans out on the street as she did not know who would want to take her picture or who would want to harm her.



In 1986, Cher was first diagnosed with Epstein-Barr virus. The effect of the virus was known to have caused her fatigue and fever and sometimes left her unable to do film work.

She became constantly sick and almost died from pneumonia. The actress/singer found comfort in performing whenever she could do so physically.



Even though Cher was an icon for the LGBT community, she struggled with it when her child, Chaz Bono, came out at 18, and she ended up kicking him out of the house, causing their estrangement, which he said lasted a week.

Her relationship with her second child, Elijah Blue Allman, was also strained. After they sent him to boarding school at a young age, he felt that his parents shunned him. They also had a falling out in 2013, but he is optimistic about their relationship.

Cher, Chastity (Chaz) Bono, and Elijah Blue Allman in a photo session in June 1981 | Source: Getty Images

Cher, Chastity (Chaz) Bono, and Elijah Blue Allman in a photo session in June 1981 | Source: Getty Images

Cher overcame her tragedies and had a super successful comeback. In 1998, she had the biggest-selling single of all time by a female artist in the UK, and in 2005, her Farewell Tour became one of the highest-grossing tours in music history. In 2010, she was the only artist to have a number-one single on a Billboard chart in six consecutive decades.

As she takes on life, she is not sweating the small stuff.

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