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September 2020

And The Thing Was Done (Cher Puzzling)

Arch-pzzleThere's a famous local film they once played before you went up into the Gateway Arch in downtown St. Louis, Missouri. The documentary, called Monument to a Dream, was made in 1967 and my friend Julie and I often made fun of its final gravitas in the last scene where the narrator says:

"By strength and skill and valor they rolled the unknown back before them. They were too weary, uncomfortable, and much too seasoned to rejoice. But the idea in the restless mind of Thomas Jefferson had been given flesh. Meriwether Lewis’s dream had come true. And the thing was done."

If you grew up in St. Louis you knew this by heart ("and then the thing was done!") because every cousin and distant relation was trudged up that thing during a summer or holiday visit.

Well, I felt the same pride and gravitas when I finished my Cher puzzle. But full disclosure, I built not a single steel inch of that St. Louis Arch and I didn't put together much more of this Cher puzzle. Fortunately I had an obsessive puzzler in the house who couldn't leave it alone.

And then the thing was done, suddenly last Monday afternoon, three weeks after it started. Mr. Cher Scholar said it was the most difficult puzzle he ever did. I asked him if he thought the good people of Cher Queendom planned for it to be one of the hardest puzzles ever created or if they were just offering up the latest plug on a Cher single. He guessed the later. Other heavy puzzlers I spoke to, like Julie above, suggested they might have lost faith during the long white blizzard of the puzzle's four corners. But Mr. Cher Scholar refused to be defeated by it.

Here's the timeline of our progress:

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We finished the copyright notice first. Mr. Cher Scholar then finished the border. I did the Cher, because I've always been good at finding her name in a puzzle of words on a page. It's one of my very impractical, some would say pointless, superpowers.

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Then we started working across the word Chiquitita in the middle because it was all pink. During that process when found The Eye of Cher!

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Soon we found the other eye. We then started with the legs.  Mr. CS finished the body and hands. I did some of the bouffant, the eyes and the earrings. My favorite puzzle pic is her face with the exploding black hair. 

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The white parts were truly challenging, sometimes maddening. I organized them all by shape size: little huts, human people, Gothic crosses, simple crosses, turtles and malformations. Mr. Cher Scholar then spent about a week and a few days finishing the corners. 

Puzzles are somehow comforting during this time of Covid and nasty politics. We've now done a Chiefs puzzle and a Cher puzzle. Next up is a puzzle based on the Agatha Christie novel Poirot's Christmas. The box includes no picture and reveals the novel's killer. Err. That sounds hard. 


Fundraising for Joe Biden

I was doing a sleep study a few weeks ago and had dropped out of the news cycle while everyone seemed to be doing fundraisers for Joe Biden! In fact, all three of my early major celebrity obsessions did Joe Biden fundraisers this summer or fall. Not a requirement, but very appreciated.

A few weeks ago Cher headlined a 30-minute event that raised 2 million for Joe Biden in a LGBTQ+ virtual fundraiser.

Various news outlets picked it up:

https://www.9news.com/article/news/nation-world/cher-raised-2-million-for-biden-campaign-at-lgbtq-fundraiser/507-b9e891d8-f001-40f2-beb7-6138d199daad

https://www.nydailynews.com/snyde/ny-cher-raises-2-million-joe-biden-virtual-fundraiser-20200901-lgzjqx3bc5doba3jqyrxekvv3i-story.html

"Cher helped to raise nearly $2 million for Joe Biden in a Zoom-powered fund-raiser attended by 500 lucky participants."

https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/music/news/cher-joe-biden-lgbtq-virtual-fundraiser-a9700306.html

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/cher-biden-fundraiser-2-million-biden-campaign-lgbtq-event/

https://www.advocate.com/politics/2020/8/31/cher-helps-raise-2m-joe-biden-during-lgbtq-virtual-fundraiser

"Biden spoke of his history with Cher, saying that she “first supported us way back last winter when it took some guts to do so. Fortunately, guts are something Cher has in abundance.”


The Spirit of Katharine Hepburn Award

On October 3, 2020, Cher officially received her Spirit of Katharine Hepburn award, including an interview with Ann Nyberg at Cher's house. You can watch the full program on the KATE YouTube site: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CtIVjM1oUOI&feature=emb_logo

The fifth annual event was held virtually this year from Old Saybrook, Connecticut. "Believe" was the keyword organizers gave everyone to slip into their speeches. Donation were also accepted during the event. It kicked off with great quote by Katharine Hepburn: "Life is going to be difficult, and dreadful things will happen. What you do is move along, get on with it, and be tough." The quote actually ends with this, "Not in the sense of being mean to others, but being tough with yourself and making a deadly effort not to be defeated.”

They gave a short intro on cher and talked about her bold independence in 6 decades of show business. They aired a very short video retrospective of her work in the 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s, and "the naughties," ending with her 250-million-grossing Farewell tour, highest grossing tour by a woman, they said.

Sponsors came on to congratulate Cher. The Governor of Connecticut came on and then the selection committee raised their Believe bellini drinks. At this point the fundraising was up to 34k.

IgubJerrod Spector and his wife sang a cover of "I Got You Babe." She almost could be auditioning for the traveling show but she was pretty good. Jerrod called Cher his “stage wife sort of” and refers to Cher as “the madam herself.” Donations jumped to 38K while they were singing.

The Senators of Connecticut spoke next, Blumenthal saying Cher "has been enriching our lives so powerfully." Murphy says he’s been a fan for a long time and thanks Cher for helping people in need during the pandemic.

They talked about the KATE's live events and the camp for kids. 

Eileen Ivers talks about how Cher testifies in "Believe." She says "we are strong enough!" and then does a great "Believe" cover on the fiddle. Lucy Arnaz  congrats "my friend."

EdEd Asner says congratulations to Cher and calls her "the most lovely lady on creation. She certainly deserves it. She’s a live one.” I actually got emotional when Asner said "She’s a Live One!!" His Emmy award is prominently displayed behind him. Donations jumped to 41K during his speech.

PeterPeter Asher talks about working with Cher while he produced some of her records. He said "I admire her enormously…she’s quite a remarkable woman, very versatile, hard working, determined, unreasonably talented, with a uniquely remarkable voice…she can be scary from time to time” (right?!) which he said could also be said about Katharine herself in the same way.

JimmyJimmy Webb calls Cher “the brightest, quickest thinker I have ever known and a Backgammon hustler par excellence…most of all a talented and soulful vocalist” (right!!??) and an unquenchable sense of humor.” (I’ve never thought of senses of humor being quenchable?) He says they were working together when Cher appeared on the cover of Time Magazine. And “long before feminism was a thing, I knew you as the formidable representative of women’s rights.” (Solid props there!) “You most certainly have the spirit of Katharine Hepburn. I loved you then and I love you now. I have always 'believed' in you. Call me.” He actually said that. Call me. Incorporating believe is getting annoying but those are some accolades right there.

Then they went through all the past winners giving their congrats to Cher.

Dick2014-Dick Cavett: "Oh am I happy to be here tonight” for someone special whom he has always loved. (I love his enthusiasm.) And he says: “No one has ever said I met someone just like Katharine Hepburn and no one has ever said I met someone just like Cher. What a team.” Perfect!

Glen2017-Glen Close: She says she’s “totally, wonderfully thrilled for you Cher. How deserving you are to get this award because you are iconic yourself. In some ways I think you define the word iconic. You are part of our lives, part of our DNA. You are a fierce heart, a beautiful human being. You are an icon for women and I’m sure men as well.” She asked Cher to “feel loved and celebrated and deeply appreciated for who you have been and what you have done for your entire career. Bravo, bravo Cher” 

Ann2018-Ann Nyberg: she says Cher is alone in her class” (so true) and talks about “your drive and your moxie would make Katharine Hepburn proud. She carried out her own path and so have you. Thank you for all you have given to the world of entertainment and for all the kindness you have shown to so many throughout your life who needed your help” (me: including elephants!) “Keep shining your light.”

Christine2019-Christine Baranski: she said, “Ms. Cher, darling, you embody the beauty, the talent, dare I say the balls, of the late Ms. Katharine Hepburn, except for one thing, you sing way better than she did. Congratulations Cher."

We then met the artist who made the award and what photos she used and what the process was for creating the clay statue, making a mold, customizing the individual pieces, forging the statue and the pictures used to design the piec.

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StephanieStephanie J. Block then talked about how she portrayed (past tense??) Cher in The Cher Show and how in the Chicago run Cher asked that they retool "Believe" to sound different so that people could hear the lyrics. Block said they turned the song into a soulful ballad but keeping the “intensity and fire” of the original. Block indicated that when “it’s safe to perform again…” but then she didn’t finish that thought. Urg! Block called Cher “unexpected and totally impactful” at “moving people” and “touching people.”

NileNile Rogers then talked about “the phenomenal, fantastic, fabulous Cher. [Katharine Hepburn]  is one of the coolest American icons and certainly Cher fits that description. Since I’ve been working with her, I have to say she is probably the coolest boss I’ve worked for. I also win a lot of money playing bingo. No one ever in my life played bingo with me and I don’t think I’ve ever won before. Seriously, she’s multi-talented. Her heart is as big as they come. The most altruistic, coolest, awesome woman and a wig truck that will put anybody to shame, maybe even Diana Ross. It’s ridiculous. You totally deserve it. You are one of the coolest people I’ve ever known.”

This is a common theme of late: people describing Cher as THE coolest of the cool. And yet anthologies of cool don’t include her at all? But I digress...

AndersonAnderson Cooper shows off his baby boy and tells Cher the award is “so well deserved.” He tells Cher he’s playing her music to his son (and someday her movies).

AndyAndy Cohen then talks about Katharine Hepburn’s fierce independence, strong personality and her paving the way for women. “Cher, you represent all the great qualities of Hepburn and more. Could Hepburn sing Believe? Survive Sonny? Wear Mackie Outfits” That’s unclear he says of the latest question. “You are my number one.” The 'surviving Sonny' was a bit much considering Sonny is part and parcel of even later-day Cherness.

BobBob Mackie then talks about Cher as a “gorgeous creature” and “what a perfect honor,” how Cher is “like Katharine Hepburn in so many ways and yet nothing like her.” He says nobody can look like Cher; “they’ve tried.” He says she’s a “warrior goddess” Like Cher, Katharine Hepburn was always Katharine Hepburn, a perfect movie star. Mackie says he’s “thrilled to be here” and calls Cher a “true partner.” He says “We were both children when we started. Still are in our brains.”

Before introducing Cher, the event announcer says Cher is an icon of her time like Hepburn was an icon of her own time. And that Cher challenged the rules and the norm just like Hepburn did and brought a one of a kind approach to her own talent. Katharine Hepburn bucked the trends and took control of her own career.” They then played Cher’s TMC tribute to Hepburn with her story of meeting Hepburn and being light-headed, sweating and feeling like a complete idiot.”

ChazChaz then talks about “my mom’s career over a lifetime. It’s pretty amazing.” He talks about how he has connected as an actor to her struggles to be taken seriously as an actor. “It’s my favorite thing that she does” he says of her acting. He says as a parent she is amazing and that she’s been there for him and “come to everything I’ve done” even to visiting him on sets. He calls her “an inspiration” and that he’s “so proud of her and happy she’s getting this honor.”

The last part is the interview with Cher. Ann Nyerg arrives at Cher’s house in Malibu. They do an elbow wave.

CherdoorCher admires the pictures of Hepburn they’ve put up in her house. They do a social distancing interview. Cher talks about watching Hepburn movies with her mom, along with Bette Davis, Ava Gardner…women who were “magic onscreen” and as actors who “carried you farther.”

Cherward
CherwardNyberg asks Cher about aspects of her career. Cher says films are harder but TV and the stage are “a snap.” I always said I’d never make many movies.” She said she loved Broadway because she didn’t have to look at the audience. She always has to calibrate “how am I doing” in her concert shows. She talked about her favorite scenes: on the swing in Silkwood when she stared crying and the late-night scene with Vincent Gardinia in Moonstruck. She says her good scenes are “few and far between.” She admits she doesn’t give herself much slack. She talks about wining the Oscar and how good it feels to be a nominee of awards but then if you lose you’re just a loser. She really thought Holly Hunter was going to win that year. She talked about saying “shit” on the way up to the podium to get her Oscar and how she forgot to thank the director.

Cher said TV liberated her. It’s where she figured out “this is who I am” and that “I was really funny.” She said she took to it more than Sonny did. They talked about her dancing with The Jacksons on the Cher show. “I wasn’t a dancer" she said and wondered, "Where am I gonna find them in me?” She talks with pride about her West Side Story skit from her TV special in 1978.

When asked about any advise for her 25-year old self and she said it was the same as her advise for her 74-year old self: don’t sweat the small stuff.

We’re up to 79k in donations now.

When asked about any famous BFFs, she asks her assistant Jen who suggests Meryl. Cher then tells the story about stopping an assault/burglary in Manhattan with Meryl and about Meryl doing her own ironing to stay grounded and how they’re not alike in any way.

Cher talks about being introverted and shy as a person. But how she got used to performing, saying "there’s nobody my age on staging singing…at least wearing no clothes."

She talks about two great movie scripts that Covid curtailed, one to perform in and one to direct. Grrr.

Does she feel a kindred spirit to Katharine Hepburn? She feels women in those days had it harder with the studio system. “I didn’t fight at first. I learned how to fight.”

She talks about her favorite movies of Hepburn: The Philadelphia Story, The African Queen and putting her makeup on before concert performances to Desk Set and Pat and Mike. (I love Desk Set…it’s nerdy). Cher says there is something different about Hepburn that resonated with her. She could be sad or hysterically funny. She then talked about meeting Hepburn twice, once at the 1974 Oscar tribute to Spencer Tracy. Cher sat in a group of famous people and Hepburn passed them on the way to the stage and to Cher said “Hey kid.” And then Hepburn at one time wanted Cher to buy her house but Cher couldn’t afford it. And she once had a conversation with Hepburn in the office of a throat doctor they had in common. Her doctor set Cher up to meet Hepburn as a surprise. Cher was tongue tied.

They talked about Tweets and Cher defended her use of all caps and emojis. She talks about dyslexia and spelling and her good memory. 

Her one word for Kate was two: my hero.

The ended on a pan of Cher’s award shelf! Grammys, Golden Globes, Emmys, Oscasrs.  By this time the fundraiser has gone up to 103k.

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Cher in Vogue, November 1969

Right around the time Sonny & Cher appeared on The Mike Douglas Show in the fall of 1969, Cher also appeared again in a 10-page Vogue spread in November. Her hair is the longest I’ve seen it here. Was this before the live performance she recalls when her hair got caught in her dress zipper and she had to cut it off? Anyway, the photo spread is a great example of this transitional period where some pics look like Cher circa the 1970s and some still look like her 1960s self. The spread is called “Fashion to Enjoy/The Price is Right/The Girl is Cher” 

SweepThe first pic reminds me of Cher's 1971 album cover, the long eyelashes, the eyebrows.

She wears a $13k bracelet,  2 of them in fact set with 16k diamonds into platinum and the rest is 18k gold and an Etruscan finish. The credit talks about "total cartage...Considering all this, the tab figures. Right? Right.”
(ugh, how the rich talk)

In the second photo you can see Cher's bangs growing out. I love the flowing dress. It's really a long leotard and a long wrapped skirt, all for $123. The copywriter loves her "glorious hair." The credits say, “She of Sonny-and-“ 

 

SandalsShe wears a bun on her head for this one and Egyptian sandals. Cher, like Ali McGraw, has big feet.

This is a Paynne velvet silver dress for $36 and at the time could be found at Sax Fifth Avenue.

 

 

 

 

KnitThis is a $110 silver colored knit once to be found at Bloomingdales. Some great bang flowing out there. And look how long that hair is!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

OddI think of this first outfit as the odd Phyllis Diller Dress. It's $90 chiffon from either Lord & Taylor or Famous-Barr.

More big boots in the second pic, a $35 star dress from Lord & Taylor. The caption references her 30-inch hair…did they measure it?

 

 

 

 

WrapHard to believe she just had baby 10 months ago! This is a $135 purple Halston dress. The caption says that "after her success in Chasity" she's planning another movie, title undecided.” 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TiedyeThey caption calls this $300 Halston tie-dye tan and brown pantsuit $300 “pas sic Cher” (thus everywhere)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AngelI love these next two outfits. This is a $130 semi-see-through gauze apricot. One of the sandals is too small for Cher's foot. The caption talks about her “3614 Jackson Highway album in Muscle Shoals, Alabama”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PleatsThe accordion dress! Mauve gauze in "a cloud of pleats" including pleated sleeves and scarf. This could be found at Saks Fifth Avenue or Neiman Marcus

 


Sonny's Recipes

Mdcooking1Recently Cher scholar Jay notified me about the October 13, 1969, episode of The Mike Douglas Show where among other things we "learn to cook Italian” with Sonny & Cher. We got to discussing Sonny's cooking and I went on an online scavenger hunt for Sonny's recipes.  I collected all I could find for a dedicated Sonny's cooking page

In this episode Sonny & Cher sing “their theme” "The Beat Goes On" and Cher sings "Just Enough to Keep Me Hanging On."  She's not hanging her hand yet but she occasional snaps her fingers. They also sing "What Now My Love" and Sonny smiles too much for that tragic song.

Cher wears a patterned mini-dress with red hose and has white nails and her bangs have grown past her chin. Her hair is very long! Sonny is in a suit because he says is now rebelling against the “hippie uniform” He says it’s his first suit in 8 years. Cher picked it out, she says. Sonny says he doesn’t like picking out his clothes.

Douglas tells Cher she doesn’t “exude much” and he wonders if she likes the showbiz. She says she enjoys it but “not to the bubbling point.”  They talk about Cher’s bracelet and how Sonny & Cher met. Cher says she set up her girlfriend with Sonny but her girlfriend didn’t like him but Sonny liked her girlfriend. The girlfriend and Cher ended up moving close to Sonny. Sonny says you have to like your mate when you’re together 24-hours a day. How did he propose, Douglas asks. Cher said Sonny asked her “where are you gonna ask me to marry you?” Proposals are more conversational now, she says. On bent knee…”that was a million years ago,” Cher says.

Sonny talks about working as a gopher for Phil Spector (the best producer in the biz, he says) and how hustling records takes political influence and that he was well-liked by LA DJs. Douglas notices Cher’s eyes are never off Sonny when he talks.

Also appearing that day are the Ramsey Lewis Trio and Selma Diamond (remember she was the first Night Court bailiff) . She keeps making remarks about Sonny’s sexuality. She says “he showed up ‘straight’" (she means his gender-bending clothes) and when Cher says she once had a dream she was a fairy,  Diamond turns to Sonny and asks “how ‘bout you?” Not cool. Diamond then tells some unfunny jokes about the British Royal Family. Marty Brill is also on the show. I had to skip over his stand-up act. Then a football player comes on. Sonny likes to talk to each guest about their line of work.

During the cooking segment, Sonny tells Cher to be careful while she chops onions. Douglas acts silly. Do you cook at all Mike? Cher asks. He says no. "Men make the best cooks," Cher says. Sonny says he likes to cook. Douglas says the dish smells Italian and complains about garlic on his fingers. Cher says "Italians just have that natural odor anyway" which gets a huge laugh. Douglas is shocked but he's been making borderline offensive comments himself.

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Cher says she enjoys Sonny's cooking. "It’s really good. It’s really groovy." Two more courses are promised later in the week.  "He always gets to do the artistic stuff," Cher says,
"I always get to do the crummy stuff."