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February 2021

Cher, Elizabeth Taylor and Helen Hardin

IMG_20210315_193844 Notice the caption in the image to the left ("anticipates Cher") from an Elizabeth Taylor biography. 

I'm doing a poetry/story HTML project right now for a class on Digital Literature and I needed to beef up on the subject of Elizabeth Taylor for it. I was never a huge fan because (a) this was my mother's era and (b) Taylor was on somewhat of downward slide when I first learned about her in the late 1970s. But I've gained a lot of respect for both Taylor and Richard Burton since reading more about them.

CleolikeSo it's come as a bit of surprise to see some natural parallels between Cher and Elizabeth Taylor, especially considering Cher doesn't call out Taylor as a major inspiration like she does Audrey Hepburn and Katharine Hepburn, aside from the obvious references to the movie Cleopatra: Cher's eyeliner methods and Sonny & Cher first calling themselves Caesar and Cleo.

But there are a few other connections I:

  1. Elizabeth Taylor loved to make big entrances in shows and in life. Many times in books, people mention her "big entrances." This might go back to the biggest entrance of all in Cleopatra.

  2. She pushed some fashion envelopes. See above. The big headdress screamed Cher when I saw it in one book. The second book I picked up even calls it out. 2.b Costume Changes: apparently Taylor broke a record for most costume changes in a movie with Cleopatra, a record eventually broken by Julie Andrews.

  3. Elizabeth Taylor embraced the good and the bad about being famous and was able to cope with it. Cher often expresses the same kind of ambivalence but not bitterness about having to deal with mobs and the wheels of show biz.

Cherliz
I didn't find a lot of Cher-Taylor mashups online but Cher did appear at Taylor's televised 68th birthday bash.  See the photo below of Taylor and Michael Jackson clapping to Cher's comments.

Liz-mj-clapcher

And here's a link to a 60s-era photo of Sonny, Cher and Taylor

Interestingly, the tabloids were also trying to get rumors going about an affair between Cher and Richard Burton, which seems funny in retrospect.

Cherliz2

1714750Also, I finally came across this picture of artist Helen Hardin on the cover of New Mexico Magazine with her late 60s wings. This photo always reminds me of Cher's wings in 1968:

Wings

And in 1969:

Wings3


More Moonstruck, Bobbleheads, Biden and Interviews

Mooneyes

Another good Moonstruck review appeared in The New Yorker while I was away.

B.D. McClay admits this movie’s “selling points have always been a problem" and then delves into the psychology of our inner wolf-ness. Huh. Something just dawned on me. Anyway, many characters in the movie, McClay notices, are “torn between who [they are] and who [they believe] themselves to be.” Loretta can’t “admit that she is a wolf, too” and “her coverup is a form of agency, ” her “own wish to feel in control, just as nothing is driving her father’s affair but his refusal to admit to his wife that he fears death.” Interesting.

McClay also interestingly notes that Ronny’s exasperation of Loretta in his line “I ain’t no freakin’ monument to justice!’ is ultimately ironic because he has indeed become a monument to his own pain. McClay also feels the idea of family is almost more important in this story than the escapades of the couple, “being a member of a family, you assume a kind of doubleness among people who have known you for a long time, which is part of what makes trying to be somebody else appealing.”

“You could flip over the table and see what happens” McClay says about taking life risks and compares the movie to Shakespeare’s romantic comedies, especially As You Like It. The movie “shares the same spirit. It’s a comedy, but it’s deeply obsessed with death, to the point that it opening a funeral parlor.”

Not many reviews and pieces for Boobleheads came out and they were ultimately unsatisfying anyway. People Magazine interviewed Cher.  She says, “No one has ever asked me to do voice-overs” and called her voice “a strange voice.” She also states, “This is a film for young people. Little kids don’t know who I am.” I wonder if little kids believe Cher is simply just another a character or bobbledom.  “For me, it was a story about being yourself…[a movie] that sends a good message.”

When asked, she admits she does have a bobblehead of herself (I’m assuming custom made) and says she “might be a little bit old [for them].” Well, not me sister. For some reason this movie has made me feel insatiable with the desire to own a Cher bobblehead. There's also a mention in Entertainment Weekly and Exclaim for some reason only reviewed the trailer. Dude, we can all watch the trailer. What purpose do these trailer reviews serve?

CookiecherThere were also some bigger general interviews:

Good Housekeeping

Kayla Keegan notes Cher’s “fearless devotion to being herself” and catalogues all of her public activities of 2020 and summarizes her life a bit. Most interesting was Cher's memory of the first book she actually enjoyed reading (after struggling with dyslexia), a book given to her by Sonny called The Saracen Blade

The Guardian

Simon Hattenstone elicits some good comments in this Guardian interview. He notes on the outfit that made such a splash in London in December, the “two-tone black-and-white beret, matching jacket, skinny jeans, black boots, black mask, and an elephant-shaped knuckle-duster.” They discuss  Trump and Biden, Kaavan the elephant, her Free the Wild and Cher Cares charities, the California fires that burned the side of her house, the price-tag for her Vegas show (an estimated $60 million a year but she defends that this supports 100 staff…Hattenstone also notes her estimated worth of $360 million). Sonny is referenced as her “Svengali and lover” and they talk about her feelings about him after he took all their shared earnings and then some. She talks briefly about Camilletti and Allmas as well.

Hittenstone notes that Cher “has a touch of Mae West about her” and “a surprising stillness.” He calls her a “serious, understated actor” but also notes her recent “gloriously camp cameo” in Mama Mia. (You could say that about all her recent roles.) He says she’s “never quite received the acclaim she deserves” and that “very few women have been so empowering for other women” due to her independence, longevity, chutzpah and level-headedness. He also remarks on her “steadfast” sobriety despite her very public dramas.

He mentions that in his experience other “megastars are evasive, talk in soundbites or reel off anecdotes on autopilot. Cher answers fully, as if considering every question for the first time. She doesn’t pretend to be your friend or feign intimacy.”

Although she refuses to accept his linking her past plastic surgeries to the current trend of teenage girls going under the knife. Hittenstone calls her “freakishly fit” which seems like only something you would only say in 2021.

She mentions in the piece that she’s working on saving a gorilla and another elephant now.

CNN

Oscar Holland at CNN talks to Cher about gay men, her son Chaz, Kaavan and Biden and the recent news that she may be directing a movie soon, tangentially related to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. She’s also working on a new album, which begs the question of where the ABBA2 album got off to. Maybe it succumbed to Covid-19. Hopefully not.