Friday, January 2, 2009

The Sonny and Cher Show: On AND Off Camera


I remember when I was I kid I thought this show was very funny. Ya know, I look back now through the magic that IS You Tube…and well, someone blew the glitter off. BUT! Back in the day it was one of many variety shows on in the early 70’s. A popular genre …one that is…not so popular anymore. (Leno’s new show may be trying to bring it all back…who knows)
But lets go back to the mid 1960’s to get a little PRELUDE to The Sonny and Cher Show.
Here’s some odd trivia to kick things off. Did you know that they were originally called Cesar and Cleo? I wish I knew the history of that one. Anyway, they of course redefined themselves and became Sonny and Cher and in the summer of 1965 released their first album “Look At Us”. This collection housed the now classic single “I Got You Babe” which was a number one. By the way, Cher was only 19 years old when that happened!
Several other top 40 hits would follow like “Baby Don’t Go” and “The Beat Goes On”.
Trivia Alert! What was the name of their first feature film which was themed similarly to the Beatles Yellow Submarine? Good Times. Not to be confused with the Evans family who lived in the projects, of course.
That movie flopped in 1967 and by the next year the two found their careers stalling a bit. But thanks to the birth of Chastity they weren’t without something to do. Then finally in 1971 they scored a television special called “The Sonny and Cher Nitty Gritty Hour” which featured songs and skits and basically was a success.
Then CBS head of programming Fred Silverman offered the duo their own variety show, The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.
This was a summer replacement series initially but became a primetime hit later in the year and received several Emmy nominations. Who could doubt the show's success with Steve Martin as a writer and Bob Mackie designing Cher's sometimes revealing outfits.
The dialogue between the seemingly meek and diminutive Sonny and the quick witted sharp tongued Cher seemed to strike a chord with audiences and the two were back to the races.
By the third season there was trouble in Camelot as their marriage was falling apart and the two separated in 1974. It was a very public and scrutinized divorce. When they split for good…so did the show.
Sonny launched his own show in the fall of that year and kept the cast of comedians which included Murray Langston who would later become the Unknown Comic.
Sonny’s show was cancelled after 6 weeks. Cher’s show was an initial success but later would fade away.
The two went their separate ways until 1976 when the Sonny and Cher Show returned to television. Even though they were no longer married they “reconciled” with a humorous on-camera handshake. The show suffered through low ratings well into 1977 and was cancelled.
The last few times the couple ever performed on television together was in 1979 on The Mike Douglas Show and in 1987 on Late Night With David Letterman where they sang “I Got You Babe”I guess we still have the memories of their show to keep us going. I still catch myself humming the VAMP song every now and again.

3 comments:

Malcolm said...

I remember watching "Sonny and Cher" when I was a little kid in the early 70s. The character that sticks out the most is "Laverne", played by Cher. Because of your post, I'm going to dig out my CD of "The Best of Sonny and Cher". :-)

By the way, I found you when I was looking for pop culture trivia blogs. I listened to the archive of your recent trivia podcast. Good stuff. I hope you do it again soon. In case you are interested, I post a weekly pop culture trivia game every Tuesday on my blog. The questions are a mixed bag of music, movies, TV, and general entertainment from the 50s to the present. If you have time, I hope you stop by and join in on the fun.

Pop Art Diva! said...

Cher always had a fascination for things Egyptian - even her house in Beverly Hills had an Egyptian theme - I always wondered if that was what inspired the Caesar & Cleo duo.

"Baby Don't Go" was originally released as the flip side of "The Letter" under their Caesar and Cleo incarnation, then re-released after the success of "I Got You Babe".

I love retro triva - thanks for the look back at Sonny and Cher.

Eric said...

No problem. I had a major crush on her as a kid. :)