The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour was a comedy musical variety series with performances of Sonny and Cher songs, ad-libbing one-liners at each other, and performing with their guest stars who encompassed some of the most popular TV and movie celebrities of the day!
Salvatore "Sonny" Bono
Murray Langston (Later known as: "The Unknown Comic)
Tom Solari (1971-1972)
Clark Carr (1971-1972)
Steve Martin (1972-1973)
Chastity Bono (1973-1974)
Teri Garr (1973-1974)
Billy Van (1973-1974)
Bob Einstein (1973-1974)
The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour (not to be confused with the Sonny and Cher Show) was originally only meant to be a five epiosode summer replacement show. Its wonderful Sonny and Cher songs, 1950s-style musical arrangements, hilarious comedy skits, striped bell bottom slacks, the sweet baby Chastity, and on-air spousal bickering made the show an immediate ratings hit with the hip 1970s audiences! The show was in the top 10 during most of its run but by 1973, the Bono's marriage was in serious trouble. The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour was #8 in its final season but Sonny filed for divorce on February 20, 1974 and the final episode of the show was (uncomfortably) taped 58 hours later!
Cher's birth name was Cherilyn LaPierre. She actually legally changed her name from "Cherilyn Sarkisian LaPierre Bono Allman" to Cher with no last name. She is 11 years younger than Sonny. Her father was Armenian and her mother was part Cherokee. Cher set records as the oldest female artist with a #1 hit ("Believe" at age 53), and for the longest period of time between #1 hits ("Dark Lady - 1974" and "Believe - 1999").
Today, we are all aware of Cher's outstanding talents as a singing and an actress. But what about Sonny? Was Sonny (as many today believe) just a "tag-along" on Cher's talent? Well, Sonny had his talents too, although they aren't often recognized as much as they deserve! Sonny was delivering meat for a butcher shop and writing songs in his spare time when he was hired by the promotion department of "Art Rupe's Specialty Records" in the late 1950s. He got experience promoting big name acts including such well-known artists as Little Richard and Sam Cooke! By the early 1960s, Sonny became a protege of Phil Spector, a producer at "Gold Star Records". Spector took Bono under his wing and taught Sonny all aspects of the record-making business. Sonny's song-writing also improved much during those years and eventually had a success with his song, "High School Dance". Then he hit gold with the tune, "Needles and Pins" which was performed by a few well-known groups before finally being recorded by "The Searcher" who took the song to #1 in England and into the top 20 on the U.S. charts. During that time, Sonny met Cher and arranged for her to be a session singer at Gold Star Records. Sonny recognized Cher's amazing talent immediately. Cher, however, was scared to death of performing. So Sonny came up with the idea of them forming a duet even though he was the first to admit that he was no headliner as a singer. But by being there, he could provide Cher with moral support on stage. They recorded their first single, "The Letter" in 1963 under the name of, "Caesar and Cleo". It was a horrible flop! During this time they also performed together live and noticed that audiences loved it when they'd ad-lib between numbers with jokes that often poked fun at each other (Later to become the basis for the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour). Sonny then tried promoting Cher as a solo singer under the name of "Bonnie Jo Mason" but eventually changed that to Cher. In 1965, they both struck gold with the hit song, "I Got You Babe", due to Sonny's writing the catchy tune, his passable singing, his promotional abilities, and Cher's fantastic voice. For about three years, the duo enjoyed much success due to their combined talents. Then, in the late 1960s, the record-buying public's taste in music changed more to "psychedelic", and their careers faltered. The low point, around the end of the 1960s, was when they had to pay $200,000 in back taxes, leaving them nearly broke. So they moved their act to Las Vegas where things were so bad that they were willing to open for other acts. Thankfully, that didn't last long. They got a new recording contract with "Decca Records" and at the beginning of 1972 they were back on top with their own television show which also caused a major resurgence in interest over their recordings!
Fred Silverman, at that time head of programming at CBS, actually saw Sonny and Cher guest-starring on the Merv Griffin Show when he decided that the network just might be able to build a show around them.
Unable to give up the one-liner jokes, in 1992 when the Fox network announced that they would produce a TV movie about the life of Sonny and Cher, Sonny jokingly suggested that Kevin Costner should play him and Roseanne Arnold should play Cher!
Sonny decided to give up show business one day when he was shooting an episode of "Fantasy Island". He was shooting a scene with Herve Villechaize (Tattoo) and mispronounced his name. When Herve went totally bananas with anger, Sonny literally said to himself, "What the hell am I doing here?". When Sonny had a ridiculously hard time getting a permit for a sign for his restaurant in Palm Springs, he started a totally different career in politics ... first as the Mayor of Palm Springs, California ... then as a U.S. Congressman!
One of the best parts of the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour was when Sonny would play a grand piano and Cher (laying atop it) would sing about evil women in history. The tune started by telling a bit about the evil woman and then went someting like this: "She was a camp, scamp and a bit of a tramp, she was a V-A-M-P, VAMP". Then the scene would switch to a comedy skit where the woman would get some guy in a serious jam (you guessed it ... played by Sonny) or make a total fool of him and the rest of the cast (including Steve Martin and Terri Garr) would dress up in elaborate costumes, add to the jokes, and perform singing and dancing routines.
Episodes List With Original Air Dates
1940s 1950s 1960s 1970s 1980s 1990s 2000+
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