Cher (play /ˈʃɛər/; born Cheryl Sarkisian; May 20, 1946) is an American singer, actress, television personality, director, record producer and entrepreneur. She has won an Academy Award, a Grammy, an Emmy, three Golden Globes and the Best Actress Award at the Cannes Film Festival for her work in film, music and television. She is the only person in history to receive all of these awards. Referred to as the Goddess of Pop for being an influential figure in contemporary music, she is also known for continuously reinventing both her music and image, ensuring the longevity of her career, her distinctive contralto and her outrageous imagery which have also been known to induce controversy.
Born in El Centro, California, Cher began her musical career as a back-up singer for record producer Phil Spector and came to prominence in 1965 as one-half of the pop rock duo Sonny & Cher. Since then, she has released 25 studio albums as a solo artist that were noted for its eclecticism and attained mixed popularity. Throughout her career, many of her songs have hit number one on the record charts, including "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)", "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves", "Half-Breed", "Dark Lady", "Take Me Home", "I Found Someone", "If I Could Turn Back Time", "The Shoop Shoop Song (It's in His Kiss)" and "Strong Enough". Her biggest-selling single "Believe" was the best-selling single of 1999, having sold over 11 million units worldwide. Cher ended her 3-year-long Living Proof: The Farewell Tour in 2005 as the most successful tour by a female artist at that time. In 2008, she signed a US $180 million contract with Caesars Palace in Las Vegas to perform a serie of shows titled Cher at the Colosseum, which ended in February 2011.
Cher became a television personality in 1971 with The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, a variety show for which she won a Golden Globe. A well-received performance in the film Silkwood earned her a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress of 1983. In the following years, she established herself as one of the most acclaimed film actresses of the decade, starring in a string of hit films that includes Mask, The Witches of Eastwick, and Moonstruck, for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1988.
Writer Alec Mapa says of Cher: "[She]'s been out there for the last four decades living out every single one of our childhood fantasies... Cher embodies an unapologetic freedom and fearlessness that some of us can only aspire to." She has sold more than 100 million records worldwide and is recognized as one of the best-selling music artists of all time. She is the only artist to reach number one on a Billboard chart in each of the past six decades. She holds the Billboard Hot 100 record for the longest hit-making career span, with 33 years between the release of her first and last number one single (1965 and 1999).