Former rock star and Palm Springs mayor
Sonny began his career as a songwriter in Los
Angeles, and quickly became a protege of
famed producer Phil Spector. After meeting
Cher in a coffee shop, they formed the duet
Sonny & Cher in 1965 and hit gold with “I Got
You Babe,” which was written and produced by Sonny.
As their rein as “rock & roll’s hottest couple” began to fade in the late ’60’s, they developed a “with it” comedy routine in Las Vegas. They were soon noticed by CBS TV executives, who signed them to star in the Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour in 1971.
Despite the huge success of their TV show, the couple split and Cher went onto a solo career. Sonny moved to Palm Springs, opened a thriving restaurant, remarried, ran and won a race for mayor, and eventually was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994. While gaining prominence among fellow Republicans, Sonny began to push for a bill to restore the Salton Sea. However, he tragically lost his life in a skiing accident in 1998. Soon after his death, in memory of all his efforts, his fellow congressmen passed Sonny’s Salton Sea bill.
His wife, Mary Bono, has since been elected to his seat in Congress and continues to fight for the Salton Sea.