A Timeline Of Cher's Shadiest Moments

Cher, Goddess of Pop, high-profile trailblazer, philanthropic princess, and...the queen of shade? From the "Moonstruck" star's scandalous outfits that many have looked back on as highlights of pop culture history, to appearances in fan-favorite films and television series, to musical hits including "If I Could Turn Back Time," "Believe," and "Strong Enough," she's paved the way for many in her decades-long career.

But, that doesn't mean she hasn't dropped a few choice words from time to time. She is Cher, after all. She's the woman who broke barriers when she went on TV in the 70's and showed her belly button, something that was unheard of at the time, thus making her the first woman to do so. And sure, in the world of nearly-naked Instagram selfies, flashing one's belly button seems downright quaint, but at the time it was a testament to the "Moonstruck" star's brashness.

Cher continued carving her own path and speaking her mind thereafter, which included some legendary moments of shade cast at her famous colleagues. We've put together a timeline of those moments for you to indulge in, so keep reading to enjoy the times the Queen of Comebacks spiced things up simply by just being the firehouse that is Cher. 

"Mask" causes a war with Peter Bogdanovich

In 1985, Cher worked with director Peter Bogdanovich on the biographical drama film "Mask," about teenager Rocky Dennis, who suffers from a face deformity. Cher plays his loving mother, who tries to give her son as normal of a life as possible. The film was met with acclaim, but a dispute between Cher and Bogdanovich went public after its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, during which the director and star noticeably sat three seats apart from each other. Bogdanovich later slammed Cher in a press conference. Cher, naturally, didn't take that well, and in turn accused Bogdanovich of "looking out for himself and not the interests of the film," per the Los Angeles Times. But this was only the start of a decades-long feud.

In 1988, Cher elaborated more on the debacle, telling Film Comment that Bogdanovich made a lewd sexual advance towards her on set. She also said that his direction was faulty due to his failure to empathize with the Dennis family, "because he didn't like them." Another sticking point came when Cher didn't side with Bogdanovich — and, in fact, openly opposed him — during his lawsuit with Universal Studios after they replaced Bruce Springsteen's songs with Bob Seger's in the film.

Although Bogdanovich told Vulture in 2019 that he and Cher did temporarily "end up liking each other," the lawsuit put the kibosh on that. He also took the opportunity to slam her "Mask" performance once more, saying she "can't act" and "can't sustain a scene."

Cher shades The Academy with style

The year was 1986 and Cher just lost an award from The Academy for her role in "Mask." So, what does she do? She puts together one of her most iconic looks with the help of designer Bob Mackie. The two-piece look caught eyes with its bejeweled top and matching skirt, as well as the feathered headdress that joined the set. Complete with thigh-high black boots and a silky embroidered shawl, the look would have been enough to make a statement anywhere, but it was when she stood up on stage in front of everyone to announce the nominees for Best Supporting Actor that she really showed The Academy who she is. 

"I came to Bob with an idea. I said I want to have a mohawk that is not actually Indian. I want it to be so over-the-top that it's next week. The beautiful shawl was cashmere. I loved the whole thing," she told Vogue in a 2019 interview. "I had the idea mostly because The Academy didn't really like me. They hated the way I dressed and I had young boyfriends so they thought I wasn't serious."

The feathered beauty got her revenge two years later in 1988, winning best actress in a leading role for "Moonstruck."

Cher shady history with Madonna

Of course, we couldn't go without mentioning Madonna, who's received 30 years worth of shade from the pop goddess herself. It all started in 1991, when Cher told Steve Kmetko that Madonna was "rude," and infamously called the Material Girl a "c*nt."  

Following up in an interview during the same year with Terry Wogan, Cher doubled down when Wogan asked if she goes "jogging like Madonna to keep fit." When he clarified that he "thought that was a subtle way to drag her" into the conversation, Cher took a sip of her drink and replied, "How about dragging her in by her hair?" She went on to state that Madonna is "unbelievably creative" but "not attractive." The next year, she was at it again with perhaps the most backhanded compliment of all time, telling interviewer Des O' Connor that Madonna "does a lot with the talent that she has." 

The age of social media changed everything. Since joining Twitter in 2010, Cher can't seem to stop mentioning Madonna, with sentiments varying from outright trolling; she claimed in 2012 to have gotten "a colonic" to "celebrate Madonna's birthday," to high praise; she declared in 2013, "2DAY I CELEBRATE THE BEAUTY & POWER,THAT IS, MADONNA." She gave everyone whiplash again when she followed her 2018 Ellen Show appearance — in which she said she'd never collaborate with Madge — with a seemingly loving 2021 throwback photo of the pair.

For her part, Madonna seems to have avoided publicly commenting on Cher's shade.  

J. Lo and Britney Spears got some low key Cher shade

When Cher hit the stage in Miami for a stop on her 2002 farewell tour, she took a moment to both muse about her pop culture legacy, and also throw some classic shade at her contemporaries. "There's all these young girls that are coming to take — well, they're not going to take my place, but they're going to take somebody's place. J.Lo and Britney and all those girls, you know? Anyway, if you wanted to know the truth, why I wanna make it so fabulous, I have a motive, okay? And that is, I thought, 'I'm going to make this show so fabulous and then I'm gonna say, 'Follow this, you b*tch*s.'"

Of course, Cher's 2002 tour was far from an actual farewell. She continued playing live for years, including multiple Las Vegas residencies that began in 2008. And since J.Lo and Spears have also done residencies, Cher couldn't pass up the opportunity to throw more shade in 2017, when ET asked if either of them had given her advice. "Babe, I was doing Vegas when they were in rompers!" she declared.

So, what do J.Lo and Spears think of being in Cher's fabulous crosshairs? In a 2021 IG post, Spears called the "Moonstruck" star "one of my favorite singers as a kid." She also name-checked J.Lo in the post, complimenting her "six pack" abs. And as far as we can tell, Jenny From The Block hasn't had a whole lot to say about Cher — or her legendary shade.

Cher did not approve of Michael Jackson's parenting

Cher and legendary pop singer Michael Jackson had a friendship since The Jackson 5 performed with the Cher in a 1975 episode of The Cher Show. But after personally observing Jackson with his kids, and watching his interactions with them in a documentary, Cher held nothing back in her disdain for Jackson as a dad. "I cannot imagine putting my children through what he put his children through," she told TV Guide (via EW) in 2003, adding, "This guy is nuts. He shouldn't have these children.'"

Jackson infamously caused public outrage a year earlier, when he was seen dangling then nine-month-old son, Prince Michael "Blanket" Jackson II, over a hotel balcony in Berlin, leading many child abuse experts to criticize his parenting. The situation was not investigated by police, at the time, with the celebrity soon after releasing an apology statement

When Jackson passed away in 2009, due to "'acute propo­fol in­tox­ic­a­tion' in com­bin­a­tion with the use of sed­at­ives" (per the Los Angeles Times), Cher rehashed her commentary on Jackson's parenting, but also spoke fondly of the King of Pop's talent. Calling in to Larry King Live, she recalled being appalled when she witnessed Jackson moving a tightly-blanketed child "back and forth" between trailers in the summer heat. But she also said that Jackson had God-given "gifts" and was "a great singer" with the "ability to have people feel him and feel people." 

Nicki Minaj got some accidental Cher shade

Thanksgiving, a time to be thankful, a time to enjoy a delicious meal (or two), a time to feud on Twitter? Well, that's exactly what happened when one of Cher's Twitter followers asked her what she thought of Nicki Minaj's diss in her 2011 track, "Did It On Em'," says CBS News. The line in the song states, "If you could turn back time, Cher/ You used to be here, now you're gone, Nair."

Cher decided to drop a little shade the rapper's way, stating, "I've seen lots of people come & go! No biggie!"

Minaj's boyfriend at the time, Safaree Samuels, made sure to stand up for his woman by telling the diva to "listen to the words," before saying anything on social media. After seeing Samuels' tweet, Cher chose to take the high road and apologized to the two of them, stating, "U R right! Someone said I was dissed...I've been dissed b4, but instead of finding out I just got defensive! I should know better."

After that, it seemed the short-lived feud was over with all three celebs deleting their tweets and starting a clean slate, according to the publication. Since the feud, Minaj and Samuels had a rather intense breakup, full of lawsuits and Twitter feuds (ironic, right?), and it doesn't seem as though Minaj and Cher have crossed paths again. 

Miley Cyrus though Cher's shade was 'a compliment'

Remember Miley Cyrus' 2013 VMA performance with Robin Thicke and 2 Chainz that caused a media frenzy and had us all thinking: What the heck happened to Hannah Montana? Well, the performance caught Cher's eye, and not in a good way.

When interviewing with USA Today to promote her album, "Closer to the Truth," the "Mermaids" star dropped some shade Cyrus' way, stating, in part, "It just wasn't done well. She can't dance, her body looked like hell, the song wasn't great, one cheek was hanging out. And, chick, don't stick out your tongue if it's coated. If you're going to go that far, then think about it before you do it." Yikes. Two days later, however, Cher was ... strong enough to clarify in since-deleted tweets (via Daily Mail) that she actually thought Cyrus' performance was "brilliant" for "pushing the envelope."  

Cyrus responded seven years later, during Billy Idol's "'Live Transmission' Christmas Show" (via Alternative Press), stating, "That's when I thought I had really made it. I'm like, 'Oh, Cher gives a f**k about what I'm doing. She was mad that I was sticking my tongue out all the time, and all that sh*t. And I'm like, 'Yo, I pissed Cher off, I really made it!' That's what I mean, when these legends, and these icons, and these artists that we look up to — when they, y'know... f**king hate us, it's still a compliment."

The "Prisoner" singer even performed Cher's "Believe" for her "Stand By You" Pride special in June 2021. 

Cher grabs a dictionary for Sarah Palin

Cher is passionate about her activism and political views, which skew largely liberal. As such, her political targets tend to be conservatives. Former vice presidential hopeful Sarah Palin found herself on the receiving end of much Cher shade during her candidacy. As just a sampling, the "Believe" singer routinely hurled Twitter insults at Palin, calling her a "media wh*r*," and repeatedly degrading her intelligence.

But it was this 2013 tweet that crossed the line — even for Cher: "Go to the dictionary, & look up the 'C' word, ... next 2 the definition ... you'll see a pic of Sarah Palin! No ... wait ... she's under dumb C word." The slam, unsurprisingly, got the star "attacked by conservative media," according to The Hollywood Reporter, but the backlash didn't end there. Palin took to Facebook and chose not to name Cher, but rather toss some signature shade of her own by vaguely referencing "irrational rants" and tossing the ball to her brother, Chuck Heath Jr. In Chuck's own Facebook post, he did directly name the "I Got You Babe" singer, writing, "I was sorry to hear that you tweeted out such vile comments about my little sister yesterday. It's sad because Sarah has never had a harsh word to say about you. In fact, our grandmother was one of your biggest fans. Have a good night, Chuck."

Cher ignored the letter, instead choosing to drop another since-deleted tweet that read: "Double my last twt & throw in the T-Jihadists."

Cher hates Donald Trump, like a lot

Palin isn't the only political candidate that has received Cher's shade. In fact, the backlog of her tweets slamming former President Donald Trump is almost too much to catalog. But she wasted not time with her shade-tossing, starting when Trump announced his candidacy. "Donald Trump's Punishment,Is being DONALD TRUMP. He has superior intellect,But no empathy. We must protect weakest among us," she wrote at the time. By the next year, she went so far as to state that she would "rather stick needles in [her] eyes than be breathing the same air" as the then-candidate.

The shade only deepened after Trump's election, and Cher once again took things too far (for which she acknowledged and apologized) in a now-deleted 2019 tweet in which she called for Trump to be impeached and said she'd like to see him in prison as the "toy boy of Big Bubba." She even chose to eat cow tongue rather than "say one nice about him," in a shade move that took place on "The Late, Late Show with James Corden" in 2018. 

Amazingly, Trump mostly chose not to engage with Cher's relentlessly shady onslaught. He did, however, execute a masterful troll of the time Cher sparked yet more controversy with some clumsy remarks "about immigrants and sanctuary cities," per USA Today. When the singer seemed to support Trump's targeting of cities that refused to cooperate with federal immigration authorities (her additional remarks were actually a bit more nuanced than that), Trump tweeted, "I finally agree with Cher!"