The duo began their careers behind the scenes in the music industry in the early 1960s. Sonny Bono co-wrote songs with composer Jack Nietzsche for music producer Phil Specter, and Cher was a backup singer, working with The Crystals and The Ronettes. In 1963, they began performing together as Caesar & Cleo, and recorded for Vault Records. With only mild success, the duo dropped the stage names and decided to go by Sonny and Cher. In 1964, the couple got married and had their first top ten single, “Baby Don’t Go.” The hit single resulted in a better contract with Atco/Atlantic.
Sonny & Cher’s only performance on The Ed Sullivan Show took place on September 26th 1965. Sullivan gave a brief bio of the pair, telling audiences that Sonny’s real name was Salvatore and that they were an actual married couple. They went on stage hand in hand, and sang their number one hit, “I Got You Babe,” followed immediately by “Where Do You Go?” and “But You’re Mine,” all of which were written by Sonny. Though it was their only appearance on the show, it led to their appearing on several variety shows. The couple eventually landed their very own called “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.” Initially only a five week summer replacement, the show became a huge success. But personal matters between Sonny & Cher led to their divorce, and the show was canceled in 1974.
Life after Sullivan, and after divorce, was very different for the pair. They each tried solo shows that flopped, so they reunited on a resurrected “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.” However, the audience was not accepting of the divorced couple, and they went their separate ways for good.
Cher had several solo hits, and won a Golden Globe and an Academy Award for her role in “Moonstruck” in 1987. Sonny became mayor of Palm Springs, California and was elected to Congress in 1994. Tragically, Sonny died as a result of a skiing accident in 1998. After her farewell tour in the early 2000s, Cher made a comeback and currently is the headliner at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada.