Name at birth: Salvatore BonoSonny Bono first gained fame in the 1960s as part of the singing duo Sonny and Cher, before turning to politics in later years. Sonny and Cher 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 cheery comedy act: 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 child, whose given name at birth in 1969 was Chastity. As an adult, he became a gay rights activist and then underwent transgender treatments, becoming Chaz Bono.) 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. He published a memoir, And The Beat Goes On, in 1992. 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, serving until 2013.
Sonny Bono was married three times: first to Cher (1964-74), then to the former Susie Coelho (from 1981 until their divorce in 1984), and finally to the former Mary Whittaker (from 1986 until his death in 1998). He had two children with Mary: son Chesare (born 1988) and daughter Chianna (b. 1991).
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