The singing husband-and-wife duo of Sonny and Cher emerged in 1962 and, three years later, landed a huge #1 hit on the charts with “I Got You Babe.” They followed with more hit records and in 1971, they decided to give the medium of television a try, starring in their first special, The Sonny and Cher Nitty Gritty Hour. The reviews were great and it wasn’t long before CBS was asking them to consider their own variety show. That same year, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour debuted as a summer replacement series. Within a year, it was an undeniable hit and a weekly staple within many of the nation’s households.
Much like their earlier special, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour featured a combination of music, zany sketches and plenty of guest appearances. The pair had a great onscreen chemistry, which Sonny playing the optimistic nice guy and Cher bringing him back down to earth with plenty of barbs, more than a few concerning his diminutive height. Of course, it was all in good fun. Both appeared in sketches as various characters and each show would feature a famous guest star, as well as a stand-up comedian. Celebrities such as Danny Thomas, Chuck Barry, Jerry Lewis, Andy Griffith, The Jackson Five, Carol Burnett and Vincent Price all made appearances. And at the end of each show, the happy couple would lovingly sing their big hit, “I Got You Babe.”
The show was popular with audiences and things seemingly couldn’t have been going better for the duo – at least on the surface. The truth was, their marriage had long been on the decline, and by the third season, the couple was filing for divorce. The animosity was finally starting to show in the fourth year and it would spell the end of the show. Both tried to get individual variety shows off the ground, in the form of The Sonny Comedy Revue and Cher with little success. The chemistry between the two was sorely missing.
As a result, and now happily divorced, they decided to join forces again in 1976 for The Sonny and Cher Show. This time around, they had a new stable of writers and the show stayed true to its earlier format. Unfortunately, the playful barbs just didn’t seem all that playful anymore, not to mention that Cher was expecting a child with her brand-new husband, Greg Allman, which didn’t exactly go over well with Sonny. The show managed to last for two seasons, but it would spell the end of Sonny and Cher as a team.
Cher went on to star in numerous motion pictures, as well as continuing a successful singing career, while Sonny moved into politics – first becoming Mayor of Palm Springs, CA, then on to the US Senate. Sadly, he passed away in 1998, the victim of a tragic skiing accident. Thankfully, 12 years earlier, he and Cher had given their legions of loyal fans one last gift, when the both made a reconciliation and appeared together on Late Night With David Letterman. The highlight of the show, which brought tears to more than a few eyes, was when they made television magic and took the stage together to perform “I Got You Babe” one last time. It was a touching moment that marked the end of an era.
IF you grew up watching Sonny and Cher on the TV each week, we’d love to hear your memories in our http://www.retroland.com/sonny-cher/ section.