Sonny Bono

  • Birth Name: Salvatore Phillip Bono
  • Birth Place: Detroit, Michigan, United States
  • Died: January 5, 1998
  • Profession: Singer, Songwriter, Actor, Politician

Fast Facts

  • Began in the music biz in the 1950s as a promotion man at Specialty Records, where he worked with Sam Cooke, Larry Williams and Little Richard.
  • Moved in the early '60s to Phillies Records, where he became a protégé of famed producer Phil Spector.
  • Cowrote the classic "Needles and Pins," which became a hit for the Searchers in 1964.
  • Met Cher when she was 16 after she'd moved to L.A. looking for fame; he gave her a place to sleep and found her session work at Gold Star.
  • First recorded with Cher as "Caesar and Cleo."
  • Wrote, arranged and produced the classic Sonny & Cher hits "I Got You Babe" and "The Beat Goes On."
  • Penned the script for the 1967 Sonny & Cher movie Good Times.
  • The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour debuted as a summer variety series in 1971 before landing on the network's regular schedule in January 1972. It aired until 1974, when news of their impending divorce broke.
  • Worked with Cher post-divorce in 1976 and '77 when they regrouped for The Sonny & Cher Show; also reunited for a one-off reunion on Late Night With David Letterman in 1987.
  • Decided to enter politics after encountering much red tape while trying to get a bigger sign for his Palm Springs restaurant; he ran for mayor in 1988 and won.
  • Ran for the U.S. Senate in 1992, but lost; ran for Congress two years later and won. 
  • Died in a tragic skiing accident.


  • 1972, Emmy — Outstanding Single Program - Variety or Musical (Variety and Popular Music): Nominee
  • 1973, Emmy — Outstanding Variety Musical Series: Nominee
  • 1974, Emmy — Outstanding Music-Variety Series: Nominee
  • 1972, Emmy — Outstanding Variety Series - Musical: Nominee


  • Chaz Bono — Son
  • Susie Coelho — Ex-wife
  • Jean Bono — Mother
  • Fran — Sister
  • Donna Rankin — Ex-wife
  • Chesare Elan Bono — Son
  • Mimi Machu — Ex-significant Other
  • Sean Machu — Son
  • Cher — Ex-wife
  • Mary Bono — Wife
  • Chianna Maria Bono — Daughter
  • Christy Bono — Daughter
  • Santo Bono — Father