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Cher (pron.: /ˈʃɛər/, born Cherilyn Sarkisian, May 20, 1946) is an American singer and actress with a career spanning almost five decades. Recognized for having brought the sense of female autonomy and self-actualization into the entertainment industry, she is known for her distinctive contralto singing voice and for having worked in various areas of entertainment, as well as for continuously reinventing both her music and image which has led to her being called the Goddess of Pop.
Cher became prominent in 1965 as one-half of the folk rock husband–wife duo Sonny & Cher, who popularized a particular smooth sound that successfully competed with the dominant British Invasion and Motown sounds of the era. From 1965, she had established herself as a successful solo artist with million-selling singles such as "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)", "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves", "Half-Breed", and "Dark Lady", songs that deal with subjects rarely addressed in American popular music. Goldmine magazine's Phill Marder described her as the leader of an effort in the 1960s to "advance feminine rebellion in the rock world [and] the prototype of the female rock star, setting the standard for appearance [and] attitude". After the duo's drug-free lifestyle had lost its popular appeal in the United States owing to the drug culture of the 1960s, she returned to stardom in the 1970s as a television personality with her shows The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour and Cher, both of which attained immense popularity. She became a fashion trendsetter with her daring outfits. After Cher and Sonny divorced in 1975, Cher experimented with various musical styles, including disco and New Wave, before becoming a top-earning live act in Las Vegas.
In the early 1980s, Cher made her Broadway debut and starred in the film Silkwood, which earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 1983. In the following years, she starred in films such as Mask, The Witches of Eastwick, and Moonstruck, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1988. At the same time, she established herself as a "serious rock and roller" by releasing platinum albums such as Heart of Stone (1989) and successful singles such as "I Found Someone" and "If I Could Turn Back Time". In the 1990s, she made her directing debut in the film If These Walls Could Talk and released the biggest-selling single of her career, "Believe", which featured the pioneering use of Auto-Tune, also known as the "Cher effect". In the 2000s, she embarked on the successful Living Proof: The Farewell Tour and signed a $60 million per-year deal to headline the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas for three years.
The only person to have received each of these honors, Cher has won an Academy Award, a Grammy Award, an Emmy Award, three Golden Globe Awards, and the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival. Her other ventures have included fashion designing, writing books and managing the film production company Isis. Recognized as one of the best-selling music artists of all time, she has sold more than 100 million solo albums and over 40 million records as Sonny & Cher worldwide. She is the only artist to have a number-one single on a Billboard chart in each of the past six decades.