Name at birth: Salvatore Bono
Sonny Bono first gained fame in the 1960s as part of the singing duo Sonny and Cher. The two met in the early 1960s and were married in 1964. Sonny wrote their hits "I Got You Babe" (1965) and "The Beat Goes On"(1967) and they soon became both a singing duo and a comedy act of sorts: the shorter Bono, with droopy mustache and psychedelic clothes, played a lovable goofball, while Cher was the tall, beautiful singer. They starred in a popular TV show, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, from 1971 until 1974. (The show often featured their daughter Chastity, born in 1969.) Sonny and Cher were divorced in 1974, and Cher went on to a solo singing and acting career. Sonny Bono, despite the enduring goofball tag, managed to be elected mayor of Palm Springs, California in 1988, and then was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 and reelected in 1996. Sonny Bono died in 1998 after skiing into a tree at the Heavenly Ski Resort near South Lake Tahoe, California. His wife Mary replaced him in his Congressional seat after a special election the same year.
As an adult, Chastity Bono became a gay rights activist and then underwent transgender treatments, becoming Chaz Bono… Sonny Bono married the former Susie Coelho in 1981; they were divorced in 1984. He then married the former Mary Whittaker in 1986. They had two children: son Chesare Elanborn (born 1988) and daughter Chianna Maria (b. 1991).
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