Cherilyn Sarkisian (Cher) was born in El Centro, California on May 20, 1946. Her mother, Georgia Holt (born 1927), was an aspiring singer, actress, and model who has been married eight times; Cher's father, John Sarkisian, was a heroin addict who abandoned the family when his daughter was a baby.
Cher first rose to fame in 1965 when she and her husband, Sonny Bono, formed the popular singing duo Sonny and Cher. For details about Cher's career in the entertainment industry, as both a singer and a film actress, click here.
Professing an aversion to politics “because I believe in truth so much,” Cher, who says she is not a registered Democrat, has a long track record of political activism on behalf of Democratic candidates and leftist causes. In the 1970s she was an avid supporter of President Jimmy Carter, whom she has described as “a saint.” Cher also cites Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, and the late Malcolm X as some of her heroes.
In the 1980s, Cher befriended the homeless-rights activist Mitch Snyder and became involved in anti-homelessness crusades depicting the Reagan administration as insensitive to the needs of the poor. On Election Day 1988, Cher and Snyder were among approximately 2,000 demonstrators who staged a march to the Capitol, where they demanded that more taxpayer funds be devoted to the construction of “affordable housing.” “I know it's a novel idea,” said Cher, “but I think that the government should have some sort of leadership about making a place for people to eat and sleep comfortably in this country.”
At the 2000 Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles, Cher participated in a star-studded salute to outgoing President Bill Clinton and announced that she would be supporting Clinton’s then-vice president, Al Gore, in the presidential election that November. She also disparaged Texas, where Republican presidential nominee George W. Bush had been governor since 1995, as a state where “more women are starving” and “more children are going to bed hungry” than anywhere else in America.
Campaigning against the “stupid” and “lazy” Bush, Cher in 2000 derided the “Reagan-[George H.W.] Bush years when people had no money and no jobs.” Moreover, she portrayed Republicans as racists, sexists, and reckless polluters:
Denouncing Bush's proposed tax cuts for people in all income brackets, Cher said: “I don't need money…. I don't want money on the backs of people who are not gonna get good schools…. if he's not going to care about the people who need to be helped … if we're not going to get higher education … Let them [the federal government] take that money and do what's good with it.”
Cher worked on several Democratic fundraisers in 2000, including a New Jersey gala that raised $1 million for Al Gore, and two events for First Lady Hillary Clinton's U.S. Senate run in New York.
When George W. Bush ran for re-election in 2004, Cher (whose daughter, Chastity, was a lesbian activist) warned the gay community that “the people, like, in the very right wing of this [Republican] party … if they get any more power, you guys are going to be living in some state by yourselves.... [I]f Bush gets elected, he will put in new Superior [sic] Court judges, and these guys are not going to want to see Gay Pride Week.”
In October 2004, Cher appeared at a Hollywood event sponsored by Peace Action to protest the war in Iraq and condemn the Bush administration for supposedly suppressing dissent on the home front: “They wrap themselves in the flag and if you dare to disagree with them in public, you're called a traitor.” Claiming also that “everyone” in Europe “hates us,” Cher lamented: “They are more afraid of the U.S. than they are of terrorism.”
Also in 2004, Cher established a philanthropy known as the Cher Charitable Foundation, whose chief beneficiary has been the Washington-based Global Giving Foundation. The latter funds numerous causes¯some political, some not¯in regions across the world.
Stating that eight years of Republican control of the White House had “almost killed me,” Cher in February 2009 lauded the new U.S. president, Barack Obama, as a man who “will be able to do as much if not more than anyone could possibly do” because “[his] intelligence is so great and his spirit is so great.… I just think he’s totally the right person at this time in our history.” “I just don’t understand how anyone would want to be a Republican,” Cher added. “... If you’re poor, if you’re any kind of minority¯gay, black, Latino, anything. If you’re not a rich¯I don’t know. If you’re not a rich born-again-Christian, I don’t get it.”
In 2012 Cher and comedienne Kathy Griffin filmed a political spot titled “Don’t Let Mitt Turn Back Time on Women’s Rights,” designed to discredit Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (who was challenging the incumbent Obama) as an opponent of such rights. Describing Republican attitudes toward women as “sick stuff,” Cher said: “There’s a lot at stake for women and people who like and respect women.”
Throughout the 2012 presidential campaign and afterward, Cher made frequent use of her Twitter account to depict Romney and Republicans as racists, misogynysts, and elitists. Moreover, she routinely smeared members of the conservative Tea Party movement as “Tea Baggers”¯a slur connoting a male homosexual act. To view some of Cher's more incendiary tweets, click here.
In a pair of November 2013 tweets, Cher -- citing what she characterized as America's historical genocide against the continent's original Indian inhabitants -- indicated that she does not celebrate Thanksgiving because she prefers “Not 2 celebrate the beginning of a GREAT Crime”¯i.e., “Stealing Land,from a ppl,Who believed,Owning LAND Was LIke Owning SKY! We gave them Blankets laced w/Smallpox.”
In November 2014, Cher was outraged by a Ferguson, Missouri grand jury's decision not to indict the white policeman who, in an act of self-defense, had shot and killed an 18-year-old black criminal named Michael Brown in a highly publicized incident four months earlier. “Something must b done 2 protect innocent young blk men,” she tweeted.
In June 2016, Cher endorsed Hillary Clinton for U.S. president. In August, she attended a big-money fundraiser for Mrs. Clinton in Cape Cod.
For additional information on Cher, click here.
 Cher has revisited this theme numerous times. In 2010, for instance, she said: “I would be willing to pay a lot more taxes, because I make a lot more money … It really should fall on people like me to get together and do things to help the people in this country. If you’re not worrying about how to put food on your table, you [should be] worrying about why other people don’t have food on their table.”