The Beat Goes On
"They say we're young and we don't know / Won't find out until we grow ..."
Well, she knows now. Cher, just 19 when she and husband Sonny Bono hit No. 1 with "I Got You Babe" back in 1965, is celebrating her 71st birthday. In the 30 slides that follow, the down-to-earth diva talks candidly—the only way she knows how—about marriage, fame, romance, movie stardom, aging and, of course, Sonny.
Photo by Gary NulL
"I'll never forget the first time I saw Son. It was at a restaurant called Aldo's. You know in 'West Side Story' when Tony and Maria meet? It was like that. Everybody kind of went into soft focus, and there was Sonny."
Photo by Chris Walter via Getty Images
"I'm insecure about everything, because ... I'm never going to look in the mirror and see this blond, blue-eyed girl. That is my idea of what I'd like to look like."
"If I hadn't met Son, I always thought I would have been a bank robber. I had, like, raw energy, but I didn't have any direction."
On her first impression of "I Got You Babe":
"Sonny woke me up in the middle of the night to come in where the piano was, in the living room, and sing it. And I didn't like it and just said, 'OK, I'll sing it and then I'm going back to bed.' So I was never a very good barometer."
Photo by Jack Robinson
"I wanted to be famous. I wanted this!"
"Until you're ready to look foolish, you'll never have the possibility of being great."
"Stardom made Sonny a huge womanizer. One woman, or even five, was not enough for him. ... The truth is, I'm not so sure we should've ever been husband and wife."
Photo by Martin Mills
"I'm scared to death of being poor. It's like a fat girl who loses 500 pounds but is always fat inside. I grew up poor and will always feel poor inside. It's my pet paranoia."
"All of us invent ourselves. Some of us just have more imagination than others."
"My passion lies with whatever I'm doing at the time ... I only see what is front of me."
"Son was a terrific father. I mean, when we had Chastity, I was terrified. And he used to be. like, making pasta in one hand and have her in the other."
"The trouble with some women is that they get all excited about nothing—and then marry him."
"A girl can wait for the right man to come along, but in the meantime that still doesn't mean she can't have a wonderful time with all the wrong ones."
"Gregory was a Southern gentleman who also happened to be a heroin addict."
"Then Elijah was born and, a year later, I left Gregory for good. As crazy as I was about him, I wasn't going to let him be around my kids."
"I won't be able to do what I'm doing forever. There aren't that many scripts floating around for 50-year-old chicks."
Photo: Universal Pictures
"I am never offended when I see the drag queens dressed up like me."
"Life is about enjoying yourself and having a good time."
Photo by Robin Platzer
"I'm still friends with all my exes—apart from my husbands."
Photo by Anthony Barboza
On dating in the media spotlight:
"They were so mean with Robert—you know, 'the bagel boy' ... He's totally worthwhile."
As Mrs. Flax in "Mermaids":
"Don't be ridiculous. A real woman is never too old."
"In this business, it takes time to be really good—and by that time, you're obsolete."
Photo by Brian Rasic
"I'm just the worst little Buddhist in town."
Photo by Sonia Moskowitz
"Men should be like Kleenex, soft, strong and disposable."
Speaking at Sonny Bono's funeral:
"Some people thought that Son wasn't very bright, but he was smart enough to take an introverted 16-year-old girl and a scrappy little Italian guy with a bad voice and turn them into the most successful and beloved couple of this generation."
Photo by Mike Nelson
"Some years I'm the coolest thing that ever happened, and then the next year everyone's so over me, and I'm just so past my sell date."
Photo by Matthew J. Lee
"I've been screaming at the top of my lungs at my family, 'Work out! Work out! Old age is coming!'"
Photo by Robert Mora
"I think that the longer I look good, the better gay men feel."
"Some guy said to me: Don't you think you're too old to sing rock and roll? I said: You'd better check with Mick Jagger."
Photo by Al Pereira via Getty Images
"I've been famous my entire life; I don't know any other way."
Photo by Arnaud de Rosnay
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