Being a famous singer is one thing, but being an icon whose name is recognized in every part of the world is quite another. Cher, originally born as Cherilyn Sarkisian, is one such artist. Through the six decades of her career, she’s always held her own and did her own thing. She was like no one else – she’s simply Cher.
Starting her career in the 1960s, she was part of the musical duo Sonny & Cher, along with her first husband Sonny Bono. The husband-wife duo became a hit, selling millions of copies, and even had their own variety TV show, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour. Cher simultaneously began her solo career as well, releasing her hit song Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) and her own show, “Cher”.
The two also had a daughter together named Chastity. After splitting up with Sonny, Cher married another musician – Gregg Allman, with whom she had another child, Elijah Blue. Cher’s kids grew up under the spotlight, and on the road while Cher was on tour. So who are Cher’s kids, and what makes their family one of the most drama-filled in history?
Losing their fathers
Both Chaz and Elijah had complex relationships with their respective fathers. Chaz’s relationship with his musician father Sonny Bono became strained when Sonny turned to politics.
The difference in their views led to the two’s falling out, and not speaking for over a year before Sonny passed away in 1998. Elijah’s father, Gregg Allman (also a musician), passed away in 2017. Gregg, who was battling substance abuse for years, was absent from Elijah’s life as he was growing up, so the two weren’t very close prior to his death.
The less known son
Most people know Cher’s son, Chaz Bono – the son of the late singer Sonny Bono. But not everyone knows of Cher’s other son, Elijah Blue’s story.
He’s the son of musician Gregg Allman (who performed in the Allman Brothers Band with his famous brother Duane), and he’s quite the musician himself. Besides performing with his rock band Deadsy, he also played guitar for his mother Cher, and worked with bands like Nine Inch Nails and Thirty Seconds to Mars. He was also rumored to date Heather Graham, Nicole Richie, and even Paris Hilton.
Just like his parents, Chaz began his career in music, performing in a band called Ceremony back in 1988. Later on, he decided to try his luck at acting, but said that since he wasn’t feeling comfortable in his own skin as a woman, he was struggling.
Following his transformation, he kept growing his career as he was cast in the recurring role of Reverend Rydale in the soap The Bold and the Beautiful. In 2016, he finally landed his breakthrough role in American Horror Story: Cult.
These days, many transgender actors are battling to get transgender roles in Hollywood. Roles like this have been often given to cisgender actors, which makes the struggle for transgender actors even harder – they’re usually not cast in “regular” roles, and they have to fight to get transgender roles.
Chaz Bono recently appeared in Variety magazine’s “Transgender Actors Roundtable”, and said he’s actually looking to be cast as cisgender characters – because he wants to take on roles that are as different from himself as possible.
Elijah felt ‘shunned’
Cher was worried about Gregg’s substance abuse issues and how it would affect on the impressionable Elijah, and sought to keeping him away from that atmosphere.
But since Elijah was shipped off to boarding school at the age of 8, he later admitted he felt “shunned.” While he eventually came to terms with it as an adult, he never thought it was right. But as it turned out, being away from his father didn’t help keep him in line, as he was struggling to hold onto any father figure.
Despite being kept away from his father – or perhaps because of it – Elijah began following in his father’s footsteps and using illegal substances as well.
He was only 11 years old when he was hanging out with back crowds in Harlem and battling with his own substance abuse problems. It lasted for roughly eight years, before several periods of time spent in rehab got him clean again. And after his father, Gregg Allman, also became clean – the two had some time to reconnect before he sadly passed away.
Contracting Lyme disease
In 2007, Elijah began feeling unwell and turned to LA doctors for help. But when after many examinations, they weren’t sure what he was suffering from. It turned out to be Lyme disease, which he believes he got from swimming in the Indian Ganges river.
The disease was threatening his life, and he wasn’t sure whether he would make it. After undergoing many treatments, both conventional and unconventional ones – he was finally cured. That’s when he met his partner, Angie, through a blind date – and the two hit it off.
Cher’s relationship with Elijah is a complicated one, and when her son decided to elope with his partner Angie and get married in secret, Cher wasn’t too quick to accept it.
Any mother would probably have a hard time accepting her son getting married without her there, but Elijah felt it was the right time. “I wasn’t going to wait for anyone’s approval and congratulations just like I’ve never waited for any of that my whole life,” he admitted.
Not on speaking terms
Elijah had said his mother never reacted or congratulated the couple on their engagement, even after they were married. The couple resided in Cher’s home for a while, and apparently things went sour, which is why they decided to elope in December.
He later tweeted that they weren’t invited to Cher’s home for Christmas – and he was feeling hurt about it. This wasn’t the first time Elijah and Cher had a falling out, as according to him, they went two years without speaking after he started his band.
Chaz and Elijah grew apart
Many people know about their relationship with their mother, Cher, but are Chaz and Elijah close to one another? Well, despite having different fathers – Chaz being the son of Sonny Bono and Elijah Blue the son of Gregg Allman – the two had been close when they were younger.
Unfortunately, since then the two had grown apart, mostly due to them going to different schools and living in distant places. “We kind of grew apart when we started going to different schools,” Elijah said. “From there we kind of took different paths.”
Growing up, Chaz Bono – who was then a girl named Chastity Bono – wasn’t a regular girl, but felt different and out of her skin. “As a child, I always felt there was something different about me,” Bono said.
She wasn’t interested in fashion, nor talking about boys like the rest of her friends. While she realized she liked girls from the time she was 13, she finally came out to both her parents when she was 18. And apparently, Cher didn’t take it very well at the time.
How did Cher find out?
Both Cher and Chaz (while he was still Chastity) released memoirs in 1998. In Cher’s book, The First Time, she told that she first learned of her daughter’s coming out from Chastity herself.
But in Chastity’s memoir, Family Outing, it’s said that Cher was actually told by Chastity’s father, Sonny Bono. Chastity wrote that her mother said she’d been embarrassed to be the last to know, but was furious about the fact she heard about it from Sonny, whom she “hated” at the time.
Cher’s initial reaction
Chaz had said his mother had certain expectations, and when they didn’t happen, she was struggling to accept it. “She would have liked a little girl who would have liked to play dress-up in her closet. I was not one of them,” Bono said.
Cher had later said that since it was a difficult time to come out, she was worried about her daughter, thinking “she’s gonna get hell because her parents are Sonny and Cher.” But a year later, she was ready to “come out” herself in a magazine as a proud parent.
It was only until 2008 that Chastity began the transition to becoming a man and legally changed her name to Chaz, and in 2011 a documentary called Becoming Chaz was released at the Sundance Film Festival.
But the actor and activist knew he was meant to be a man for several years beforehand. “There was a number of years where I knew I was transgender but was afraid to do anything about it,” he recalled. And his transition was anything but easy.
A hard time dealing
Cher in particular was having a hard time accepting her daughter’s transition, and took a while to finally come to terms with it – admitting it was pretty scary at first.
“You have this child for 40 years, and suddenly they’re going away,” she said, referring to her fears as a parent. After overcoming her initial reaction to the process, she became an advocate for the LGBT community and shows full support for her son in whatever makes him happy.
Dancing with the Stars
In 2011, Chaz went on to participating in season 13 of Dancing with the Stars. Paired with dancer Lacey Schwimmer, he danced away and was looking to show the audience a “different kind of man.”
But after a few weeks of receiving low scores, the two were booted off the show. His mother, Cher, showed her support throughout this journey, sending out tweets and cheering from the audience. However, Schwimmer had said she believed the scoring and comments they received were unfair. Either way, Chaz remains one of the most memorable contestants of DWTS.
Later that year, the National Inquirer published an article about Chaz called “Only 4 years to live,” claiming he was expecting to have health issues due to the hormones he was receiving.
Although many celebrities receive the same treatment, and even Cher herself was rumored to be “dying”, it was still quite infuriating for the actor. Bono threatened with legal action, his lawyers calling it “outrageous, false, fabricated, and highly defamatory.” However, National Inquirer claimed to have referred to his weight issues, saying they wished him the best.
A fitting nickname
The late singer Sonny Bono, who passed away in a skiing accident in 1998, never got to see his daughter Chastity ever become Chaz. But apparently, he already had a cute nickname for her as a little girl – Fred.
Chaz told on a late night show that this nickname was born when his father once took him to a toy store. They were looking at key-chains with names on them, but as they never had ‘Chastity’, Sonny proposed Chastity should pick a name, like Fred – and it stuck for years.
Chaz had been struggling with weight issues for years, but after making his transformation – he was finally feeling happy enough and decided to turn things around and attempt a healthier lifestyle.
After he cut most grains, and added plenty of fruit and vegetables to his diet, he finally managed to shed some of his weight. Beginning at 250lbs, the actor had said it was his positive thinking helped him drop an astonishing 85 pounds. And not only does he look great, but he seems to be much more content with his weight.
Chaz and Jennifer Elia
Before Chaz Bono became Chaz, he had a girlfriend – Jennifer Elia. The two were partners for six years, and it seems that Jennifer was pleased with his transition.
As she’s attracted to both men and women, Jennifer actually admitted she prefers him as a man, saying their relationship grew stronger one Chastity became Chaz. “There is a softness that Chaz had when he was a female that has now gone.” she said, adding, “Things have leveled out.”
In November 2011, Chaz Bono proposed to Jennifer on his show, Being Chaz. Instead of a regular birthday present, the actor presented his girlfriend with a diamond engagement ring.
“Wow, it’s gorgeous. Thank you so much,” she said on the show as she received his proposal, “It’s stunning. It’s huge.” The two sealed the happy moment with a kiss. But unfortunately, their engagement was a short-lived one, as they ended things only a month later.
Chaz and Jennifer have had their fair share of problems, including Jennifer’s struggle with drinking and staying sober. She’s also been vocal about her fear that Chaz would eventually get hurt for promoting the transgender cause.
The two, however, split on good terms and remained respectful towards one another. “Thanks for your concern about our separation,” Chaz tweeted about the break-up. “I’m doing fine, and we remain on good terms with nothing but respect and affection for each other.”
Struggling to find someone
It’s been years since the actor broke up with his long-time girlfriend, but there don’t seem to be any new love connections in the horizon.
Chaz admitted that although it’s been great being single and having time to focus on himself, he is still struggling to find love. “I seem to repel women that I am attracted to,” he said. He also added that it’s his “male mentality” that might be in the way of finding a partner.
Doesn’t understand women
Although Chaz used to be a woman himself, he admits he still doesn’t understand women. Even as a girl, Chaz always felt as a man and never understood the female side.
In an interview, he told Oprah, “I don’t think I understand women particularly better. Not the emotional side that men — we don’t get.” However, he did say that because he got a closer look at women during his life as a woman, he does have a different perspective on them than most men do.
As Chaz was trying to make a transition from music to the acting business, he was glad to have Cher as inspiration for that.
The actor had said he recalls very clearly how challenging it was for his mother to break into a whole new business and make it as an actress. “It’s been really helpful to have gone through that with her and seen how she persevered and was extremely successful,” he recalled. But his mother wasn’t only an inspiration to him.
Cher had always been supportive when it came to Chaz’s career. Not only was she someone he could turn to whenever he was in need, but she was always there to cheer him on.
Whether she’s in the audience, watching from home, tweeting about it, or raving about his performances in interviews – Cher is one proud mama. “She was with me when I was doing it when I was younger, and she’s seen everything I’ve done,” the actor said. And no doubt this support was all-important for his success.
Back in 2016, it was reported that Cher was suffering from a terminal illness and that the star was dying. Gossip sites were reporting Cher isn’t sure whether she had another year to live, and was working on her will.
Some reported she changed her will to divide her fortune between her kids, and others reported she was leaving both Chaz and Elijah Blue out of her will altogether. But of all the rumors, what was the truth?
Cher has commented on these supposed death rumors, saying she wasn’t dying at all. “I’m just older than dirt,” she joked.
The singer, who was photographed while vacationing in southeast France and Italy, said, “They’re taking pictures. Do they just think I’m dying and I’m out here and partying and all that?” But as Cher herself said, the story seemed to be good for sales. However, it’s unknown whether the star really made changes to her will and cut off her children.
Losing her fortune?
Other sites also claimed Cher had lost the fortune she had due to paying high medical bills. They alleged that the singer was so low on funds, she wasn’t sure whether she’d be able to pay for her own funeral.
Despite this bleak image presented in the media, Cher seems to still be going strong, and hasn’t confirmed any of these rumors. But when you’re a huge star like Cher, there are bound to be some rumors about you, for better or for worse.
Life at home
It isn’t easy growing up in a household where both parents are part of the music scene. Although Cher tried to keep things normal for her children, growing up on the road wasn’t a normal thing.
And it was no regular home, either, according to Elijah Blue. “There were a lot of big parties and there was an era for that…when I was a little kid like in the 80s there was a lot of that,” he said. Their childhood wasn’t typical in this celebrity household.
Why Sonny and Cher split
Sonny and Cher seemed like a real power couple, so why did they split? Well, it’s reported that the late Sonny became quite a womanizer after becoming famous.
Cher also admitted to feeling powerless in their relationship, and after having Chaz – she was growing tired of being told what to do. She wanted a 50-50 contract, and when she wasn’t given one, she walked away from the duo. The two finalized their divorce back in 1975, and only three days later Cher married Gregg Allman.
Appearing on Caitlyn Jenner’s show
Chaz’s transition provided inspiration and paved the way for other transgenders to make their transition as well. After Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner) began her transition into a woman in 2015, Chaz Bono appeared on her show I Am Cait.
The two bonded and met with LGBT youth in an L.A. center. Caitlyn admitted she wanted to get to know Chaz ever since she first met him, and was also hoping the meeting would help her gain inspiration on how to deal with her own kids.
Caitlyn Jenner is a public figure who’s been in the spotlight ever since she announced her transition in a stunning Vanity Fair cover.
But she’s also taken quite a few hits from critics who say her story is meant to gain publicity or achieve further fame. Chaz Bono came to Caitlyn’s defense about the matter, saying, “It’s a difficult thing and it’s frustrating that people would think that somebody would do this for publicity, or for any other reason than because you have to do this.”
Gushing about his mother
While Chaz and Cher have had their problems, he is pleased to have a “down-to-earth” mother. “She’s been really encouraging and a great, sympathetic ear,” he said in an interview.
His relationship with the singer, who’s now 72 years old, has evolved over the years, and although he says she can be “overbearing” at times, she now also depends on him for certain things. They seem to have gotten over their major issues, and Chaz now says he’s grateful for her support.
Elijah knows she tried
During an interview, Elijah Blue has also confessed that Cher tried being a good mother, but it was her fame that made the situation complicated.
“She’s had her moments and I know she’s tried, I think it’s a very complex situation that historically has never made for a good parent,” he said. When he was growing up, Cher had been focused on her career and was trying to juggle it along with being a mother. While it caused issues, Elijah admitted he knows that it’s something she regrets and is trying to mend.
‘The best thing in the world’
Cher admitted that while her parenthood was lacking in some ways, she was only doing her best. Her kids had to grow up on the road, but she considered it better than leaving them home while she was on tour.
“I really like being a mother,” the singer gushed. “I’ve got children that are absolutely the best thing in the world.” And while things got a bit hairy in terms of their relationship, they’re now in a good place. “My relationship with my kids is great right now,” she said. “Let’s freeze this moment because God knows what’ll happen tomorrow.”