Why Is Cher Suing Sonny's Widow?

It's been several decades since the time of Sonny and Cher, but some things never fully leave you. Like intellectual property rights. And look, you just don't mess with Cher. She's Cher, okay? Even though the iconic singer and the widow of her ex-husband, Sonny Bono, have reportedly gotten along pretty well over the years, it looks like there is some tension of the legal variety between these two.

The iconic musical duo of Sonny and Cher officially divorced in 1975 after releasing a few hit singles ("I've Got You, Babe," for example) and starring in their wildly popular variety show, "The Sonny and Cher Show." It may be hard to believe now, but they were once known primarily as a double act, and it was anyone's guess what would become of their careers once they went solo. The divorce was not what you'd call "amicable," and what Cher viewed as an unfair business arrangement was at the heart of the split. She famously cited "involuntary servitude" in the divorce papers, according to The New York Times. She added that her former lover "unlawfully dominated and controlled" her career.

And now, it looks like the issue of money has come up again.

Cher says Sonny's widow is trying to take control of royalties

According to reporting by TMZ, Cher is suing Mary Bono, the widow of her ex-husband, Sonny Bono, for withholding royalties from the couple's hit songs from the 1960s. The suit alleges that Sonny and Cher agreed to split their music royalties equally as part of their divorce proceedings. Cher is claiming that Mary has been trying to get a hold of these royalties for a few years now. So, she is suing her for at least $1 million. 

According to Rolling Stone, Cher's lawsuit alleges that Mary (or rather, Mary's estate) is trying to use a loophole to "terminate Cher's 50% stake in the Sonny & Cher catalog." Basically, Mary's team says that the Bono estate doesn't have to keep paying Cher royalties because Sonny died. Cher's lawsuit says that is ridiculous. It's more complicated, obviously, but we never claimed to be lawyers over here!

This marks a stark contrast to the loving relationship Cher and Mary used to have. In fact, Mary told the Desert Sun in 2017 that Cher was a "a constant source of comfort" to her upon the unexpected death of Sonny. "I thought it was really important that all of the bad words, all the bad years, become meaningless," she added. It looks like she changed her mind.