When she was just 16 years old, Cherilyn Sarkisian—known to millions as Cher—dropped out of high school and moved to Hollywood with dreams of becoming a star. There she met a 28-year-old songwriter who changed her life forever. His name was Sonny Bono.
Calling themselves Caesar and Cleo, they began making music together. After years of recording and touring, they married and became the worldwide sensation known as Sonny & Cher. By 1971, millions were tuning in every week to watch their hit television show, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.
When they divorced in 1975, Cher's beat went on without Sonny. Throughout the '70s, she wowed fans with extravagant outfits, outrageous hairdos and hits like "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves."
In the '80s, Cher traded in her glittery disco duds for fishnets and leather. She reinvented herself as a rocker with the release of the anthem "If I Could Turn Back Time." During the next decade, she topped the charts with "Believe," the best-selling pop single of her career.
To this day, Cher is the only female artist to have a top 10 hit in every decade for the past 40 years. She's also a Grammy, Emmy, Golden Globe and Oscar® winner.
At age 61, Cher's showing no signs of slowing down.
In 2005, Cher performed the last show of her farewell tour and told fans she'd never go on the road again...but that didn't mean she was done performing. "I didn't want to give up," Cher says. "I really like doing this too much."
Cher has teamed up with Caesars Palace to create a cutting-edge new show, Cher at the Colosseum. This time around, the fans will have to come to her. Cher has signed on to do 200 performances over the next three years.
On May 6, 2008, the show premiered to a sold-out crowd, and Oprah says it's already creating excitement around the world!
Singing at Caesars Palace is a full-circle moment in Cher's life. "After Sonny and I broke up, [Caesars] was my first gig, and it wasn't nearly as nice as this," she says. "I was over in the main room—seven nights a week, two shows a night."
Things are a little different this time around. For the first time on television, Cher performs from her new stage. She's singing "Take Me Home," a throwback to her dazzling disco days.
Before Cher could wear her barely-there costumes again, she says she had to get her body back into shape. When her last tour ended, she says she indulged in a few too many sweet treats. Her weakness? Doughnuts.
Unlike most dieters, Cher says she sometimes forgets to eat. "It's not that good for you because it slows down your metabolism," she says. "You can get fat just doing that."
Once she decided to lose the weight, Cher says she became conscious of everything she ate. She began eating seven small meals a day and exercising regularly. "I was running and walking, and I was doing the Power Plate," she says.
For four months, Cher says she was faithful to her diet, and her hard work paid off. Now, she's not afraid to show some skin.
For the past 40 years, fashion icon Bob Mackie has been the man behind Cher's most spectacular costumes. Months before the premiere of her Caesars Palace show, Bob and his team began working feverishly to create 17 looks for his most daring client.
From warrior goddess to Cleopatra, the costumes do not disappoint. Every outfit comes with its own wig, headdress or dazzling accessory. "She wears these kind of clothes like they're a T-shirt and jeans," Bob says. "It's just amazing. Who else can we do clothes like this for if it's not Cher?"
Bob says other performers would be terrified to wear the risqué outfits he designs for Cher, who happens to be the first woman to show her belly button on television. "A lot of fashion historians don't give her credit," he says. "I don't know who they think did it, but it was Cher."
The Colosseum's latest show packs in the 17 costume changes, as well as audio and visual effects. Cher says fans can expect to see personal photos and film clips she's never shared before. "We found pictures of Sonny and I walking along the Seine," she says. "We've got this unbelievable black-and-white section. The whole thing is pop art."
Cher has performed hundreds of concerts over the years, but she says she still gets terrified moments before taking the stage. "Once I'm out, I'm okay," she says. "But backstage, I'm just going, 'Oh, I can't do this. I can't do this. I can't do this.'"
To snap her out of her stage fright, Cher says the show's director once told her, "If God hadn't wanted you to do this, he wouldn't have looked down on you when you were in your cradle and [said], 'Sequins!'"
Cher's not the only legend visiting Las Vegas. Tina Turner, the singer known for her sultry voice and shapely legs, has been turning out hits for nearly half a century.
Born Anna Mae Bullock, this rock 'n' roll goddess changed her name and made a name for herself in the '60s and '70s. Since then, she's been called the hardest working woman in the music business.
Over the years, she's released 63 albums and recorded countless hits, including "Proud Mary," "Private Dancer" and "What's Love Got to Do with It."
Packing stadiums around the world, Tina has sold more concert tickets than any other solo performer in history and electrified audiences with her signature dance moves. At 68 years old, this eight-time Grammy winner and grandmother is still simply the best.
"I will tell you...if there was award for Tina Turner's biggest fan, I would win it, hands down," Oprah says.
When Tina last appeared on The Oprah Show, Oprah asked her the one question on everyone's mind. What would it take for her to tour again? At the time, Tina said she wasn't ready. "To go on tour every night—that's a bit much," she said. "There's a high expectation of Tina Turner, and I don't want them to say, 'She can't do it like she used to'...I'll think about [it]."
Three years later, Tina has thought about it, and she's come to Las Vegas to make a special announcement...she's going on one last tour!
The nationwide tour kicks off in Kansas City on October 1, 2008, and tickets are on sale now.
"What really pushed it was when all of the acts of my time went out. ... I thought to myself, 'I want to do it for the people and, I have to say, maybe for myself,'" Tina says.
In February 2008, Tina came out of retirement to perform "Proud Mary" with Beyoncé Knowles at the Grammy Awards. In never-before-seen footage taken just days before the performance, Beyoncé says singing with her music idol was a powerful experience. "I feel like a little kid," she says. "It's one of those things you always dream of—to actually be on the stage with [Tina] is crazy. I just can't believe it."
After the Grammys, the New York Daily News wrote about the showstopping performance, saying, "With curves still in the right places, Turner showed that while she was out of sight in recent years, she's certainly not out of shape."
Before she heads on tour, Tina is giving a sneak peek of what may be in store for those lucky enough to score tickets.
Tina performs "Nutbush City Limits," her 1973 ode to her Tennessee hometown.
This may be their first interview together, but Tina and Cher have been friends for more than 30 years, ever since they performed together on The Sonny & Cher Show.
"The first time Tina and I worked together, she came into the studio and I was expecting, you know, Tina Turner, but she comes in wearing a little silk shirt and trousers and high heels. ... Then we started talking, and I have a sailor's mouth, and Tina is so genteel—she talks like such a lady," Cher says. "She just kept looking at me, like, 'Whoa, where did you come from?'"
That isn't Cher's only memory of that day. "I remember I thought, 'I'm going to have to dance with Tina Turner,'" Cher says. "Do you know what that feels like? It's like dancing with a hurricane."
Tina says Cher also made an impression on her during their first meeting. "Cher was so free," she says. "She was in control of her career and her life and what was in the studio."
Singing isn't the only thing these two rock 'n' roll legends have in common. Both were one half of very public marriages, and both endured very public divorces.
Tina and Cher each say that after relying on a partner for years, becoming an independent woman was a learning experience. "Neither one of us was ever on a plane by ourselves," Cher says. "I didn't know how to make out a check. I met Sonny when I was 16." Living in the spotlight didn't help, she says. "I made so many stupid mistakes. ... It's hard because you make all your mistakes in front of thousands of people."
Tina says she embraced her new life after leaving Ike, even though she was still learning how to be on her own. "I released myself," she says. "I wasn't intimidated by not knowing. I simply said, 'No, I don't know that.' I was okay with not hiding from it."
Due to their huge success, both women owed money after their divorces. Cher says she owed Sonny $2 million when their marriage ended. "Sonny and I had all of these contracts that amounted to something like $6 [million] or $7 million," she says. "The judge said, 'A contract is a contract, and if you pull out of it, then you have to pay him the amount that he would have made.'" Cher says she took on her first gig at Caesars Palace to pay off that debt.
"I had lawsuits from cancellations," Tina says. "With every venue that I played, I was served with papers for about a year or so. ... I just kept working because I was healthy and I was happy. I just paid my way out of the whole thing."
A public divorce didn't completely turn Cher off from dating famous men. One of her most notable post-Sonny relationships was with Tom Cruise, and Cher says she was crazy about him. "He was so wonderful," she says. "He was so different. He was a shy boy."
Cher says finding a man when you are a superstar isn't easy. "It's not every man that can have the wherewithal to not mind being Mr. Cher," she says. "It's a certain guy who is willing to hold his place and not be worried."
Tina says she has found that very trait in Erwin Bach, the man she has lived with for more than 20 years. "He never was intimidated," Tina says. "He came in my life as Tina and stayed himself ... and he's remained that way. He lives his life how he lives it."
So how do two music icons who have been performing for a total of more than 70 years between them feel about getting older? "I think it sucks!" Cher says.
"I welcome it with open arms," Tina says. "My senior life is so much better than when I was young. The wisdom, the way I think, my attitude toward things. There is a change when you are still healthy and you still look good. ... You don't mind being 68. You're looking forward to going forward with that same attitude and that same look. That number doesn't mean a thing."
It's the moment everyone's been waiting for...for the first time in years, living legends Tina Turner and Cher are performing together on stage. Their rendition of "Proud Mary" brings down the house!
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