Okay, yes, it’s true. The first place I think of Cher is the “If I Could Turn Back Time” video. I mean, it was released during what Wikipedia refers to as her “third musical comeback,” specifically in 1989, which is pretty strongly correlated with my own rising musical awareness. My mom was out of the house more around then, and I saw more MTV. So yeah, Cher straddling a very large gun was an image that stuck with me more than, say, her Oscar-winning turn in Moonstruck.
However, I also find it astounding that she has as few credits on IMDb as she does. Not just acting; she only has fifteen movie-acting credits, but that’s surely her choice. No, what I’m struck by is that a woman whose career spans more than fifty years and twenty-five albums only has twenty-one movie soundtrack credits. There are musicians with half the career she does with two and three and more times the soundtrack appearances, and that seems wrong, whether you like her music or not.
To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan. I have a visceral loathing for “I Got You Babe,” which is probably why it took me as long as it did to notice that Groundhog Day isn’t one of her listed credits, and maybe they count Sonny and Cher songs separately? I don’t dislike Moonstruck, but I also think it looks like she won in a weak year, where the competition wasn’t that tough aside from perpetual nominee Meryl Streep. With whom she had starred a few years earlier in Silkwood, which I do rather like—maybe I only like Meryl Streep movies where terrible things happen to her? But my favourite Cher movie is probably Witches of Eastwick, which I say without having seen about half her films.
What I like about Cher, though, is not necessarily her movies or her music—though I’m a fan of “Believe” and don’t mind admitting it—but her, the person. Cher. The woman, the icon, the whatever you want to call her. This especially includes her philanthropic work; I admire anyone who actually builds houses for Habitat for Humanity, especially if they’re older than I am. Since Cher is nearly as old as my mother, that goes double! She’s also a woman of my mother’s generation who was able to change her mind about a stance, going from “guilt, fear and pain” over her daughter’s coming out as lesbian to eventually being able to accept that she had a son instead.
There is also her history of fashion, her long association with designer Bob Mackie. (Who, yes, is still alive, and who I just added to the list upon discovering this fact.) I don’t always like what she’s wearing, though Simon turns out to be extremely fond of That Oscar Dress, but the thing you can’t deny is that she has always had the courage to dress however she wanted. Okay, she’s had a lot of plastic surgery over the years, more on which later, but I think she, like Tina Turner, also just works out a ton. She looks the way she wants to look, and I admire that even when I don’t necessarily admire how she looks in the moment.
So in one of Richard Roeper’s books about the movie industry, he talked about urban legends. Specifically, one of the ones he brings up is the “Cher had ribs removed so she’d look thinner” legend. Which, he points out, would also leave horrific scarring, and would it really be worth it? Even if you could find someone reputable willing to do it? But he told the story of how I think it was Tori Spelling had heard the story about herself and gotten irate that anyone would believe it of her. But then she stopped and said, “But I’d heard it about Cher and believed it, so I guess there’s only so mad I can be?”