Singer, actress, superstar… Cher has had a lot of different roles throughout her career. But the one thing about Cher’s life that people often arguably overlook is her never-ending role as a mother. Yes, in the 1970s Cher had two children: a girl named Chastity, and a boy called Elijah Blue. And what a lot of fans don’t know is that each of Cher’s children has had – and struggled to get past – their issues, just like the star herself. So what has gone on behind closed doors? Well, here’s the story of Cher’s life, loves and kids.
Described by Forbes magazine as “the most famous chanteuse and performer of our time,” Cher has attained fame and stayed relevant with a chameleon-like ability to move with the times. The “Goddess of Pop” has also proven to be a magnetic presence on stage – and paved the way for other female stars to mix showmanship with music.
Since going solo, in fact, Cher has shifted 100 million units – and that’s on top of the 40 million records that she sold as half of Sonny & Cher. She’s also received acclaim as an actress for films such as Silkwood, The Witches of Eastwick and Moonstruck – even taking home an Oscar for her performance in the last of those. The star has a host of other awards, too, including an Emmy and a Grammy.
It’s little wonder, then, that Ms. magazine hailed Cher as an authentic “feminist hero” for the 1980s. The mag said, “Cher, the straightforward, tattooed, dyslexic single mother, the first Oscar-winner to have entered into matrimony with a known heroin addict and to have admitted to being a fashion victim by choice, has finally landed in an era that’s not afraid to applaud real women.”
Cher’s biographer Mark Bego summed her up, too. He wrote, “No one in the history of show business has had a career of the magnitude and scope of Cher’s. She has been a teenage pop star, a television hostess, a fashion magazine model, a rock star, a pop singer, a Broadway actress, an Academy Award-winning movie star, a disco sensation – and the subject of a mountain of press coverage.”
Yet this may all have seemed a long way off when Cher ditched high school at 16 with her heart set on fame and fortune. That was in 1962, when she met a 28-year-old assistant to Phil Spector, the record producer. The man in question was, of course, Sonny Bono. And in time the star would come to be very close to Bono – so close that they unofficially got hitched in Tijuana in the fall of 1964.
Bono’s idea had actually been for Cher to become an artist in her own right. But she was too nervous to perform on her own, so he would get up on stage with her and sing harmonies. Cher was therefore able to focus on Bono and ignore the nerves. At the beginning, though, Cher had limited success with solo work, including a cover of Bob Dylan’s “All I Really Want To Do” and an album of the same name.
But in 1965 it was as a duo that Sonny & Cher would break through – with the recording of “I Got You Babe.” The pair had actually been told that a U.K. audience would be more receptive to their musical style than the U.S., so they headed to London. There, the Hilton hotel did not like their clothing and threw them out – and the ensuing publicity saw the couple become instant stars.
The clothing created a sensation, too, with British kids rushing to dress just like Sonny & Cher. This, alongside the massive success of “I Got You Babe,” saw the duo become massively sought-after. And suddenly, the pair were all the rage on TV and in sold-out shows in arenas across America as well.
In the mid-1960s, then, Sonny & Cher occupied the stratosphere of pop celebrity. They were the “it” couple of rock music, and, on the back of their enormous popularity, the duo sold 40 million records across the globe. But rock took a political turn as the decade came to an end, and the shifting landscape left the pair behind. But what was worse for the couple was that they had apparently spent all of their money.
Bono had allegedly been seeing other women, too, so the couple had relationship problems to add to their financial woes. But Bono apparently wanted to work at it, and he told Cher that he longed for a proper marriage and a family. The family therefore came in 1969, when Cher had her first child, who was named Chastity at birth. The official wedding of Sonny & Cher followed shortly after.
Chastity’s name derived from the character whom Cher portrayed in her first solo movie role. But Chastity did not use that name exclusively. Bono once took Chastity to a shop to buy a personalized keyring, you see, but the store did not have the right name. So Bono asked his child to choose a name that they did have. From then on, then, the name “Fred” stuck.
On the career front, though, it seemed that it was time for some rebranding. So Bono had the duo take on a much more hippie look. And it clearly worked, as in 1971 the couple had their own TV show on CBS. The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour was a hit, too, and there was even space to feature the young Chastity.
On the show, though, Bono took the role of a fool under the feet of Cher’s whip-smart lady. However, the act was just for show; in reality Bono retained control. When Bono died in 1998, in fact, Cher said in his eulogy, “He had the confidence to be the butt of the joke, because he created the joke.”
Despite the success of the program, though, the couple’s relations had begun to wear thin. In a 1999 interview with Benjamin Svetkey, Cher described how things had been. She said, “He was like the father. You know how you can be frightened of your father even if he doesn’t ever do anything?”
The diva continued, “It wasn’t like, I mean, he never hit me, never really yelled at me. He could be tough, though. He could just be real tough in that kind of horrible, tough Sicilian way. I couldn’t stand on my own two feet and talk back to him. That was my problem. I could just never ever talk back to him, and so I never got any of my needs met that weren’t what he felt they should be.”
Cher explained how things had changed. She said, “When I was young, it didn’t make any difference because I was so crazy about him on so many levels. He was really everything to me, and after I had Chaz I started to grow up, and he wouldn’t allow it, and I was starting to really… He was starting to kill my spirit.”
So the singer decided that she needed more out of their arrangement. She told Svetkey, “I went to him and said, ‘Look, break the contract. Let us drop a new contract, make it 50-50. You can’t tell me what to do anymore. I’m 27 years old. You can just not tell me what to do.’ And he wouldn’t do it, and he just didn’t count on how tough I could be.”
In the end, then, Cher decided that divorce was the best course. She applied for a permanent separation in 1974, citing “involuntary servitude” as the reason. But the case didn’t run smoothly. Accusations flew about money from the show, in fact, and Bono even wanted custody of Chastity. Of course, in the circumstances, the TV show could not continue.
During the divorce case, though, Cher had found someone new. In fact, she was dating David Geffen, the record label boss. He had initially got involved when Bono wouldn’t move out of the marital home. And while Bono had been off recording one night, Geffen and two goons had pitched all of the star’s goods into the street – even turfing out Bono’s current girlfriend in the process.
But three days after finalizing the divorce in 1975, Cher got hitched again – this time to Gregg Allman. Barely more than a week later, though, the singer was ready to call it off. Allegedly, Cher found that she couldn’t cope with Allman’s reliance on booze and heroin. She would later say, “He was so high he didn’t even understand me.”
However, Allman would not give up on Cher – so he sobered up and rekindled their marriage. And in 1976 Bono and Cher actually started their show all over again. Allman apparently found it all so astonishing that this time he wanted to quit the marriage. But when Cher told him that she was pregnant with Elijah Blue, Allman decided that he was okay with it. In any case, the show did not go particularly well.
The couple also made an album of duets, called Two the Hard Way. But neither the critics nor the listeners were very keen on the record – and the marriage would not recover. Allman told Entertainment Weekly magazine in 1992, “There was no future for us, because she has that constant paranoia of [my] going back to alcohol.”
After two marriages, then, Cher had two children. The oldest, Chastity, later followed her into music with a band called Ceremony. Chastity also tried out acting but initially found that it wasn’t a good fit. This was because the now trans man felt uncomfortable with being a woman. In fact, later years would see Chaz Bono succeed at acting, with parts in soap The Bold and the Beautiful and 2017’s American Horror Story: Cult.
Chaz’s life has not been easy, then. When only 18, for instance, the then-Chastity came out as a lesbian. Chaz wrote in his 1998 book, Family Outing, about the experience: “As a child, I always felt there was something different about me… When I was 13, I finally found a name for exactly how I was different. I realized I was gay.”
At first, in Chaz’s words, Cher wasn’t reconciled to Chastity’s sexuality and apparently went “ballistic.” A year later, however, Cher “came out” herself as the mother of a lesbian – showing her pride on gay magazine The Advocate’s front cover. Of course, Cher then became renowned for being an LGBT ally.
Sadly, though, Chaz’s good relations with Bono faltered when the latter won election to Congress as a Republican. So fierce were their political disagreements that the pair stopped speaking to each other. And that had gone on for longer than a year when Bono suffered a horrific skiing accident that ended his life in 1998.
Ten years later, Chaz underwent more upheaval with the beginning of his transition to the man whom he had known himself to be. His name changed legally to Chaz as well. But it wasn’t simply a matter of changing names. He said in his documentary, Becoming Chaz, “There was a number of years where I knew I was transgender but was afraid to do anything about it.”
Again, the changes in Chaz’s life apparently struck Cher hard, and she had to get used to the idea. She told lifestyle website Monagiza in September 2019, “You have this child for 40 years, and suddenly they’re going away.” But once more Cher did come to terms with Chaz’s change, and she was able to give him support in whatever he chose.
Chaz expressed his gratitude for that support, too, and he claimed that they have a strong relationship. This was despite Cher’s occasional reported lapse into being “overbearing.” And the star’s other son, Elijah Blue, echoed that she had made an effort to be a good mother – accepting that it had not been easy given her fame.
One reason Elijah Blue may have initially struggled to form a good relationship with Cher was that he had been sent away to school as a child and attended a succession of places. At one point, in fact, he had been sent to military school as a “punishment.” However, Elijah Blue later reported that he had actually enjoyed that experience.
Elijah Blue told U.K. newspaper the Daily Mail in 2014 that going away to school had even “saved” him from the Hollywood lifestyle. He explained to Monagiza in 2019, “There were a lot of big parties, and there was an era for that… when I was a little kid, like in the ’80s, there was a lot of that.”
Given his father’s profession, though, it’s perhaps no surprise that Elijah Blue became a guitarist. Gifted his initial instrument by Gene Simmons of Kiss, Elijah Blue even toured with his mom when he was only 13. He also tried out to play for Nine Inch Nails, unsuccessfully, and started his own band, Deadsy, for which he played guitar and sang.
But a negative feature of Elijah Blue’s life was his problems with addiction. He told the Daily Mail, “My drug addiction was pretty much about an eight-year thing of really heavy using. I was taking lots of drugs on the road. I was smoking dope [heroin], taking a lot of pills, any painkiller we could get, and drinking.” However, he did quit heroin for good in 2008.
Having survived the party lifestyle, though, Elijah Blue would subsequently be struck down by illness. He in fact contracted Lyme disease, possibly when swimming in India. Yet doctors had initially been bemused by his symptoms – particularly when he hadn’t tested positive for Lyme disease. He told the Daily Mail, “After that, I kind of gave up that allopathic Western medicine route and went natural.”
And Elijah Blue did find some comfort in love with wife-to-be Angie. Allegedly, though, Cher ignored the couple’s engagement – so Elijah Blue struck back. He told the Daily Mail, “I wasn’t going to wait for anyone’s approval and congratulations just like I’ve never waited for any of that my whole life. The way I eloped with my wife is the same way I’ve done everything I’ve ever done. I don’t know any other way, and we knew it was the right time.”
Elijah Blue continued, “I’ve always been the black sheep of my family. The reason being, we just have different value systems, and we just have a different mentality, and that clashes a lot. We have lots of ups and downs and right now isn’t the best time. Had we been getting on a little bit better… maybe it would have been different.”
Elijah Blue was, however, able to make a better friendship with his dad, Allman, before the latter’s 2017 death. He told the Daily Mail in 2014, “It’s not that it’s been bad [their relationship], just been very absentee. I’ve forgiven him for that. I’ve seen my dad a lot more in the last year than I have in a long time. That was something that was absent when I was growing up, and it’s important to mend fences now in our relationship.”
Cher’s two sons do not have a particularly good relationship with each other, however. Elijah Blue told TV show Entertainment Tonight in 2014, “We were close [growing up]. I think what happened was, Chaz went off to a performing arts school back east, and I went off back east as well, later to prep school, and so, you know, from there we kind of took different paths. But for a minute growing up we were kind of close, yeah. We kind of grew apart.”
When asked about Chaz’s transition, Elijah Blue described it as a “challenge.” He said, “I mean, I knew about it many years ago. This had been sort of bouncing around for about a decade, and I went to that first year ‘manniversary.’ Any psychiatrist will tell you that there’s a period of time that you have to come to terms with it.”
Of course, having kids is no guarantee of happiness. The Little Couple’s Bill Klein and Jen Arnold had long dreamed of starting a family, for instance, and in 2013 they finally made their vision a reality. But bringing home adopted son Will and daughter Zoey didn’t prove to be a trouble-free experience. Instead, the youngsters had to cope with the transition into their new lives – a process that ultimately taught their parents some heartbreaking truths about adoption.
Of course, it isn’t always easy to assimilate after emigrating to the U.S. from another country. And both of Klein and Arnold’s children were indeed born in other nations; the couple adopted Will from China, while Zoey came from India. As it happens, though, the kids seemed to have an especially difficult time adjusting to their new lives – albeit each for different reasons.
All of this came at a particularly tough time for Arnold and Klein, too. After years of miscarriages, Arnold received a devastating health diagnosis, giving her no choice but to leave India during the process of adopting Zoey. And the hard times only continued for the family when they all got home – with the reality stars choosing to finally open up about their troubles a few years after the fact.
Yes, as many know, Klein and Arnold are no strangers to the small screen, making their TV debut on TLC reality series The Little Couple in 2009. And according to the network’s official description of the show, the pair “are just like your average couple – except for the fact that they’re both under 4 feet tall.”
The TV personalities were both born with skeletal dysplasia, or dwarfism, although they each have a different type of the condition. Businessman Klein’s spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia, for example, affects the growth of his spine and the ends of his bones. The congenital syndrome has required him to undergo in excess of 20 operations, and he stands at just 4 feet in height.
Arnold, meanwhile, has spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia type Strudwick, which was named after the first patient to have been diagnosed with the condition. It’s affected Arnold in a similar manner to her husband, although there have been some differences in the ways in which the disorder has altered the ends of her bones. And the neonatologist – who stands at a little over 3 feet tall – has had to undertake even more surgical procedures than her husband.
In fact, Klein and Arnold’s respective conditions brought them together for the first time – although it would take years for the pair to fall in love. Klein later described this meeting to TLC, explaining that the encounter had occurred at a Baltimore-area hospital when the two had both been ten years old.
“[Arnold] was in for surgery, and I was in for physical therapy,” Klein reminisced in a TLC segment. He also recalled his future wife’s mood post-op, adding, “I remember that I was very happy when I first saw her, but she was not in a good mood because she just had surgery the day or two before.”
Surprisingly, Klein’s recollection of that initial encounter was so clear that he could even remember the room in which he had met Arnold. And while Arnold admitted that she couldn’t bring to mind that particular event, she nonetheless claimed that her husband’s description was accurate – and she believed they had indeed met, too. “Everything he described about that day, me and the people in the room was perfect,” she said.
But although Klein and Arnold didn’t keep in touch after that run-in, they did almost meet again a decade later. At that time, they had the same doctor, while Arnold also had her sights set on enrolling in medical school. So, she shadowed her surgeon – something Klein was also doing.
And the medical staff who saw both Klein and Arnold sensed the potential for a romantic connection. Arnold said of the potential matchmakers, “[They] actually tried to set us up a few times, believe it or not.” Despite that goal, though, the pair never went out together; in fact, they didn’t even cross paths while they shadowed their shared doctor. “I never got to meet [Klein], because we did it at different times,” Arnold explained.
Thankfully, things would turn out differently the third time around for Arnold and Klein – although even that meeting almost didn’t happen. During that period, both the businessman and the doctor had accounts on a website called datealittle.com. “I wrote to her, but she wasn’t paying the bill for her registration, so she could not read my email,” Klein said.
Then, three months after that, Arnold finally decided to log back online following some encouragement from her “best friend and a glass of wine.” And while she admitted to initially activating the account to find female friends, she ultimately decided to message exactly one man on the website, too.
“I searched all of the profiles for young men my age with good jobs, who weren’t married [and who were] looking for love, and [I was] looking for people that I didn’t already know,” Arnold said. “I came across Bill’s profile, so I sent him a random email and said, ‘Have we ever met before at a Little People in America conference? You look familiar.’ That was my great pickup line.”
The line worked, though, and Arnold and Klein subsequently started sharing phone calls as they lived in different cities at the time. And Klein knew he had to go meet Arnold in person after around six weeks of the pair getting to know each other. You see, the doctor had apparently dozed off while talking to him, and this, he claimed, meant that “she was either too comfortable or too bored.”
Klein had already fallen for Arnold, in fact, so he wanted to make sure that she was on the same page. He therefore took a flight to Pittsburgh, and the pair subsequently met up at Starbucks before going on an official date. Arnold later recalled, “We had the longest conversation ever… It was awesome. I knew right away that this one was great.”
So, despite still living in different parts of the U.S., Klein and Arnold embarked on a relationship. And in 2009 they made things official and married before making a life together in Houston, Texas. In the city, Arnold held a pair of jobs: director at the Texas Children’s Hospital’s Simulation Center and professor at Baylor College of Medicine.
Klein, meanwhile, has had his hand in a slew of successful business ventures. Following the completion of his studies at New York University, he began a career in sales and ultimately worked his way up to management positions. Since then, he’s also started his own company selling his proprietary version of puppy pads for potty-training dogs.
And, of course, Klein and Arnold have had their TV show to keep them busy. The Little Couple has followed their lives since 2009, with the show’s opening episode including footage of the duo’s wedding ceremony. Cameras followed Klein, too, as he moved from New York City to join Arnold in their new home of Houston.
But The Little Couple doesn’t just share Arnold and Klein’s happy times. Yes, the series has also let viewers witness the difficulties that they encounter – both as little people and as individuals going through life. In 2013, for example, Arnold faced a serious health scare when she found out that she had stage three choriocarcinoma – an uncommon form of uterine cancer.
Furthermore, that cancer diagnosis highlighted yet another struggle that Arnold and Klein had faced. You see, choriocarcinoma typically grows from uterine tissue that would otherwise transform into the placenta during gestation. And, heartbreakingly, Arnold had endured a miscarriage in September 2013 – just months before being informed of the choriocarcinoma.
Earlier in 2013 Arnold had also talked about her fertility struggles with People. “For a lot of people, loss tears them apart,” she said. “In general, we are pretty tough people. I feel very lucky and fortunate to have the wonderful life I have. We are good at putting things in perspective because of our life experiences.”
Thankfully, though, good news was on the horizon for Arnold and Klein. In February 2014 the medical professional revealed to People that, after her last chemo treatment, her cancer had gone into remission. “I’m doing great,” she stated. “Everything is moving in the right direction.”
And in spite of their long-time struggles with fertility, Arnold and Klein would go on to become parents twice over. In 2013 the couple officially adopted their first child from China: a son named Will. Then, within a few months, they were ready to add another member to their family: Zoey, a girl who originally came from India.
Both Will and Zoey have types of dwarfism, just as their new parents do. In fact, in Will’s case, his condition had reduced the chance that he’d be adopted at all. But, of course, that didn’t put Klein and Arnold off. The couple then traveled to India with Will to bring Zoey home to Texas. And, naturally, the new parents looked forward to bonding with their little ones.
Deciding to adopt had actually marked a big change in Klein’s way of thinking about parenthood. In 2018 he admitted that he had once had a “selfish attitude” about becoming a father. “I wanted a kid that was genetically mine,” the businessman said. But a reality check regarding just how many children needed homes – and love – had eventually changed his mind.
“We talked about how many kids were out there that didn’t have a home, that needed love and support from a family and were relegated to a life of institutionalization,” Klein explained. “I think that I couldn’t have done any better a job through surrogacy, through the old-fashioned way or anything else. When I saw Will’s [and] Zoey’s picture[s], I fell in love immediately.”
That love would help Klein and Arnold through the tough times that came as Will and Zoey adjusted to their new lives. What’s more, that transition period took place in the midst of Arnold’s cancer diagnosis and treatment. The health crisis would force the mom home early from the trip to New Delhi, India, where she and Klein had traveled to pick up Zoey.
And while Arnold had already become close to Zoey before that, the little girl had yet to forge the same connection with Klein. He later wrote in the couple’s 2016 book Think Big, “Without her new mommy, [Zoey] was inconsolable. Trying to soothe Zoey only made things worse. Her cries echoed throughout the house… Zoey obviously wanted and needed her mother.”
Then, when Klein brought Zoey back to the U.S. on his own, things didn’t get any better. Instead, after he introduced her to her new home in Texas, Zoey “wailed next to the front door.” The businessman added in the book, “[Zoey] didn’t want anything to do with it, and she didn’t want to be near her new daddy.”
In fact, bonding with Zoey became tough for both Klein and Arnold. “She really wanted nothing to do with us,” the doctor admitted to People in 2017. On top of that, the couple also had to deal with Will’s many health challenges. “He had hearing difficulties and has undergone surgeries,” Klein explained.
Fortunately for Klein and Arnold – and Will and Zoey – the new family didn’t give up on forging connections with one another. And it all paid off for them in the end, too. Indeed, in 2017 the parents reported to People that they had been stunned by how their children had managed to adapt to life in the U.S.
“They’re getting to an interesting age and finding their real passions,” Klein added of his son and daughter. “They’re really into artwork right now. Their verbal skills continue to surprise me, and they’re doing so well in school. It’s fun to watch them grow.” And for all that he and Arnold had put into building a family, he felt even more happy for what the kids had accomplished.
“After everything we’ve been through, it’s a very exciting time,” Klein explained. Viewers of The Little Couple have been able to see some of those happy moments unfold on camera, too. Nevertheless, Klein told Glamour in 2015 that he and Arnold tried their best to keep Will and Zoey grounded despite their small-screen appearances.
“The large majority of what we do is off-camera, because we want [Zoey and Will] to grow up in a normal, comfortable environment and experience what they want to experience without it being something that they have to do in front of an audience,” Klein claimed. And considering how well Zoey and Will apparently adjusted in the end, it seems as though the couple’s methods worked.
In recent years, though, Klein, Arnold, Will and Zoey have all taken on some new challenges. Most notably, the family relocated from their home in Houston to a new one in Florida. And at first, some fans mistakenly credited the impetus for the move to Hurricane Harvey, which hit Houston in 2017.
That wasn’t quite the case, however; instead, Arnold had received a job offer she couldn’t turn down from the Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg. Arnold had been treated there as a young child, and now she serves as the medical director of its Simulation Center. So, while the decision to leave Houston in the fall of 2017 proved to be a tough one for the family, ultimately they felt that they’d made the right choice.
On The Little Couple, Klein said, “While there might be a little bit of remorse at the end of the day [about the relocation from Houston], this is going to be a good move for everybody.” And he went on to outline the upside of life in Florida for himself, Arnold and their two children.
“There are so many big benefits to moving to Florida,” Klein stated. “We will be closer to family.” Nevertheless, he admitted that having Zoey and Will in tow would make the move a bit tougher. He added, “Looking for a house is not an easy task; looking for a house with two kids [is] nearly impossible.”
And it stands to reason that Will and Zoey could have looked at the relocation with trepidation. After all, as we’ve heard, both had trouble transitioning to life in America when they first arrived. Understandably, then, Arnold told People in 2019 that the kids had felt “a little concerned” about leaving Houston. Yet, as usual, the close-knit family made it through. “They’ve adjusted really, really well,” Arnold added of his son and daughter.