Biography (Page III)

Cher with Karen Black and Sandy Dennis in 'Come Back To The % & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean'
Starring the same trio as the play, Cher starred in the movie adaptation of Robert Altman's 'Come back To The 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean'. It premiered in the US in September at the Chicago International Film Festival, after which it reportedly received a ten-minute standing ovation and won the festival's Best Film Award. Altman disallowed major US studios from handling the film, instead allowing newly-found independent film company Cinecom to handle its distribution. This resulted in the film being showed in just four venues across North America, but still reaching #18 at the Box Office. Its $840,958 US gross wasn't the only reflection of the film's success, as come Golden Globe Awards' time, it received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture – for Cher.

The release of the new movie coincided with the release of Cher's new pop/rock album 'I Paralyze', which failed to chart and would remain her last album for five years.

Cher - who had begun to wear braces to straighten her teeth - was then asked by director Mike Nichols to star alongside Meryl Streep and Kurt Russell in a film called 'Silkwood' that was based on the last years of labor activist Karen Silkwood. Through Streep, Cher met actor Val Kilmer, whom she began a relationship with. 'Silkwood' premiered in December 1983 and reached #1 at the U.S. Box Office before racking up a total gross of $35-million. Come award season, it scored an array of major nominations, with Cher's portrayal of Karen's lesbian friend Dolly Pelliker - a composite of two real-life characters - scooping nominations for Best Supporting Actress at the Oscars, Best Actress in a Supporting Role at the BAFTA's and Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture at the Golden Globes. The latter she won. After the film's premiere, Cher underwent a rhinoplasty procedure to reduce the size of her nose.

Cher in 'Mask'

Cher then scored a leading role in 'Mask', another film based on a real-life character. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, it told the story of a young boy called Rocky Dennis, played by Eris Stoltz, that suffered from craniodiaphyseal dysplacia - a disorder which causes facial disfigurement  and reduces life expectancy. The film, which also starred Sam Elliot, ranked at #2 for three weeks (behind 'Police Academy 2: Their First Assignment) at the U.S. Box Office Chart when released in March 1985. It eventually grossed $48 million and scored high praise. Cher - who was about to begin a brief relationship with actor Tom Cruise - won the Best Actress award at the May Cannes Film Festival and received a nomination for Best Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama at the Golden Globes. It was likely she'd receive a Best Actress nomination at the Oscars.

"I didn't get nominated. And the reasons people gave had nothing to do with my acting. They said I wasn't 'serous' enough, or I didn't have a last name or that I dated young men and I didn't dress like a 'serious actress'."

Cher at the 1986 Academy Awards
However, reportedly for not being "a serious actress", Cher was snubbed at the Oscars and so (alongside boyfriend Joshua Donen, whom she was living with) donned a headline-grabbing Mohawk Indian outfit to the March 1986 awards ceremony, where she took to the stage to present an award, saying, "As you can see, I got my Academy handbook on how to dress as a serious actress".

In May 1986, Cher met Robert Camiletti - a bagel shop worker - during a night out at New York club 'Heartbreak'. A few days later, Cher caused a stir during an appearance on 'Late Night With David Letterman'; when Letterman asked Cher why she hadn't been on the show before, she answered, "Because I thought you were an a**hole".

In October, Elton John included a song co-written with Cher, 'Don't Trust That Woman', on his UK-Gold-certified album 'Leather Jackets'.

Soon after, Cher - who was now almost-always sporting black curly wigs in public - began work on a new film, 'The Witches of Eastwick'. Cher played the role of one of three witches (the others being Michelle Pfeiffer and Susan Sarandon) opposite Jack Nicholson in the George Miller-directed comedy/fantasy film. It topped the U.S. Box Office Chart in June and grossed $63-million.

With another two films in the pipeline, someone suggested to Cher that she ought to get back into the recording studio.

October 1987 saw Cher star in the courtroom thriller 'Suspect' alongside Dennis Quaid, which ranked at number 3 on the US Box Office Chart and grossed $18-million. That same month, Cher released her first single in five years, with Geffen Records. 'I Found Someone', previously a minor hit for Laura Branigan, became Cher's first US top ten single in the US since 1979, reaching #10. It also reached #5 in the UK, and sold a million copies worldwide. Its music video - which was directed by Cher and co-starred Camiletti -  was nominated for Best Female Video at that year's MTV Video Music Awards.

In November, she released her own fragrance, 'Uninhibited', which reportedly grossed around $15-million in it first year.

In December, Cher starred in the Norman Jewison-directed romantic comedy 'Moonstruck' alongside Nicholas Cage - whom she'd personally picked to be her co-star. The film was a tremendous success, grossing $80-million and ending up the fifth highest-grossing film of the year. Cher's performance as Italian-American accountant Loretta Castorini was highly-praised, and she was flooded with awards, including Best Actress at the Golden Globe and Oscar Awards. During filming, Cher fell in love with Rob Camiletti.

Meanwhile, Cher's new pop/rock 'Cher' reached #32 in the US and was certified Platinum, plus it reached #26 in the UK where it received a Gold certification. She was voted #10 in People Magazine's 25 Most Intriguing People of 1987. Before year's end, she was diagnosed with fatigue syndrome Epstein-Barr Virus.

Sonny & Cher on 'Late Night With David Letterman'
In February 1988, Cher appeared once again on 'Late Night With David Letterman', this time in a memorable onscreen reunion with Sonny Bono. The pair were asked to sing their signature tune 'I Got You Babe'. The appearance won a TV Land Award for Greatest TV Music Moment 19 years on.

Cher's next single, April's 'We All Sleep Alone', peaked at #14 in the US. Again, its video co-starred Camiletti. September's dance single 'Skin Deep' reached number 79 on the US Hot 100.

Cher made another music video starring Camiletti and herself for the album's fourth single, December's 'Main Man'. However, it failed to chart.

Cher returned to the recording studio to record her next Geffen album. Lead single 'After All' was a duet with Chicago frontman Peter Cetera and was used as the love theme for a new movie called 'Chances Are', starring Robert Downey, Jr. and Cybill Shephard. The film wasn't a hit but the single was. It reached #6 on the US Hot 100, #1 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart and received a Gold certification for shifting 500,000 copies. It went on be nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Original Song.

"He said to me, 'I can't bear to be under the microscope all the time. I love you, but I need to go back home - I miss my life.'"

In June, Cher announced that boyfriend Camiletti had split with her after he had a much-publicized altercation with paparazzi, and struggled with public life. She soon rebound with Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora.

Album 'Heart of Stone' was released in July and took Cher into the top 10 (#10) of the Billboard 200 - where she'd never been before solo. It would eventually be certified triple-Platinum in the US, and has sold over 4.5 million copies worldwide. It topped the albums chart in Australia (where it went four-times-Platinum) to become Cher's first ever #1 album. It also received a Platinum certification in the UK, where it reached #7 plus four-times-Platinum status in Canada. No doubt about it, much of its success roots from the album's second single 'If I Could Turn Back Time'.

The Diane Warren-penned rock-ish number featured a risque music video, with Cher sporting a flesh-bearing bodystocking. Daytime airings of the video were banned by MTV, whom ordered for it to be played only after 9PM. The song: reached #3 on the US Hot 100 and went Gold; reached #6 in the UK; #1 in Australia for 6 weeks, where it went 2-times-platinum; and sold over 2 million copies worldwide. It became her second consecutive and third overall #1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart. She was named Favorite All-Around Female Star at People's Choice Awards.

Cher embarked on an 8-date mini-tour, 'The Heart of Stone Tour', in the US in support of the album before releasing new hit singles 'Just Like Jesse James' (million-seller, US#8, UK#11) and 'Heart of Stone' (US#20). Her Epstein-Barr virus came into full play as she she struggled to shoot new movie 'Mermaids' but fought it enough  - with help from antibiotics - to resume her tour in March 1990, taking it around the world, grossing $40million. However, she was left physically exhausted, had multiple bouts of pneumonia - of which she nearly died of - and was forced to seriously wind back her working hours.

"By the time I made 'Mermaids', in 1990, my immune system was completely shot. My glands were always swollen, and I was on and off antibiotics for two years straight."

She starred in ABC special 'An Evening With... Friends of the Environment' alongside Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn, Meryl Streep, Olivia Newton-John and Robin Williams. In June, she provided track 'Trail of Broken Hearts' for the hit soundtrack album of Tom Cruise's movie 'Days of Thunder'. Around this time, she became the spokesperson and a key donor of Children's Craniofacial Association - a charity which helps individuals with facial anomalies, and their families.

Co-starring Bob Hoskins, Winona Ryder and Christina Ricci, Cher's new movie - 1960's-based comedy/drama 'Mermaids' - finally opened just before Christmas, but with competition from the likes of 'Home Alone', 'Look Who's Talking Too' and 'Edward Scissorhands', the film only opened at #6 at the US Box Office and garnered a so-so total gross of $35-million.

The film was supported by a moderately successful (US#65) soundtrack album. For it, Cher recorded renditions of 1960's much-covered classics 'Baby I'm Yours' and 'The Shoop Shoop Song (It's In His Kiss)'. The former was released in the UK but didn't chart. The latter peaked at #33 in the States but was a triumphant success in Europe, especially in the UK where it spent 5 weeks at number one. The song sold well over a million copies worldwide.

In Januray 1991, she released a book co-authored with nutritionist Robert Haas called 'Forever Fit: The Lifetime Plan For Health', which reportedly sold 100,000 copies in the year. In February, the Emmy Award-nominated 'Cher ...At The Mirage' - a taping of her recent tour - was broadcast on CBS, gaining 17.5 million viewers. (A video release of it followed the next year.)

Cher was back in June 1991 with a new single and album. 'Love & Understanding' reached #17 in the US and #10 in the UK. Parent album 'Love Hurts' saw contrasting chart performances on each side of the Atlantic: it reached a disappointing #48 in the US (though was certified Gold) but spent 6 weeks at number 1 in the UK. It sold over 2 million copies worldwide.

Cher's decline in popularity in the US was largely attributed to her appearing in an array of informercials, for health, beauty and diet products, that were aired repeatedly every day on US television - and made Cher the target of many comics.

"The backlash was huge. I was riding so high after the Academy Award. Now I was a joke. There's nothing like an informercial to slam-dunk your ass."

She released one of the most-successful and fastest-selling fitness videos of all-time, 'CherFitness: A New Attitude', which sold 1.5 million copies in the US and 300,000 in the UK. 'Save Up All Your Tears' - previously a minor hit single by Bonnie Tyler - was Cher's next single, charting at #37 on both sides of the Atlantic. 'Love Hurts' (UK#43) and 'Could've Been You' (UK#31) followed in the UK whilst 'When Lovers Become Strangers' became a Top 40 hit in Canada.

1992 saw Cher win an ECHO Award in Germany for Best International Female Artist. She appeared as herself in a cameo role in Robert Altman's critically-acclaimed movie 'The Player' starring Tim Robbins. She also released a second fitness video, 'CherFitness: Body Confidence', which became the best-selling fitness video of 1993 in the UK, selling 350,000 copies. The same year, she was unveiled as one of Madame Taussauds Wax Museum's 5 Most Beautiful Women of History.

Cher began her 'Love Hurts Tour' in April - the tour faced numerous postponements and cancellations due to Cher's poor health. A total of 26 shows were played, with US dates being postponed for five months. It eventually grossed a healthy $20-million.

In November, she released a cover of 'Oh No Not My Baby', which reached #33 in the UK. It was one of three unreleased songs from Geffen's vaults that appeared on that same month's album, 'Cher's Greatest Hits: 1965-1992', which spent 7 weeks at #1 in the UK and achieved triple-platinum status. It sold over 1.5 million worldwide. The other two new songs 'Many Rivers To Cross' (UK#37) and 'Whenever You're Near' (#72) hit the UK singles chart in early 1993. For the second consecutive year, she was nominated for Best International Female Star at Germany's ECHO Awards.

Cher, 1994
Sonny & Cher's 'I Got You Babe' made a brief return to the UK charts in May 1993 due to its repeated presence in that year's $70-million-grossing Bill Murray-starring hit movie 'Groundhog Day'. June 1994 saw Cher team up with massively-popular cartoon characters Beavis & butt-head for a cover of the song; supported by a video starring the three of them, it reached #35 in the UK. She also teamed up with musician Larry Adler for a cover of 'It Ain't Necessarily So' for his UK#2 album 'The Glory of Gershwin'. The song was given a limited single release.

In December, Cher played herself in a cameo role in Robert Altman's poorly-received 'Pret-a-porter', starring Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren.

Before year's end, Cher journeyed to a songwriter's retreat in France to pen a new album. However, Rob Dickins, head of Warner Music UK, refused to release the album on its WEA label - which Cher was now signed to - for it being "not commercial". She also started a mail-order catalogue business called 'Sanctuary', selling Gothic-themed products