The untold truth of Cher

There are few entertainers who go by one name and can be called a legend. Cher started her career in the '60s with then-husband Sonny Bono and hasn't stopped making music, movies and political waves. Although people claim to know all about the 71-year-old icon, few know every single detail of her life. From her thoughts and feelings on bedding Tom Cruise to that one lesbian affair, her struggles with dyslexia, her rocky relationship with sons Chaz and Elijah and her bizarre relationship with best friend Kathy Griffin, here is the untold truth of Cher. 

She's got a wild and sultry dating history

Cher's had the pleasure of dating some of Hollywood's most respected and revered men. But among her favorite lovers of all time? The pop icon chose Tom Cruise, whom she dated in the '80s. "I've just had the greatest lovers ever," the diva revealed on Andy Cohen's Watch What Happens Live (via The Daily News) in 2013. "[Tom Cruise] was in the top five. It's not a long list, just a good list." She went on to call the Top Gun action star a "great, lovable guy" whose relationship with him got "hot and heavy." Cher also bedded Gene Simmons of the rock band KISS, according to People. Although Simmons has a history of one-night stands, Cher says he was completely smitten by her. "We just had a wonderful suite at Chicago's Ritz-Carlton overlooking the lake, and Gene said at breakfast that it never ceases to amaze him how comfortable he is with me," she recalled. "He has never had a steady girlfriend."

Cher has even tested the lesbian waters. "Oh God, who hasn't?" She quipped to Cohen. "I stole a horse when I was 13, you know, so why wouldn't I?" Nowadays, Cher is very quiet about her dating life. But admits it would require a truly unique guy to be with her. "There are a few people," Cher started with Entertainment Tonight. "It kind of cuts the herd down, because people are a little bit frightened about being Mr. Cher."

She feuded with David Letterman

Although Cher seemingly loves all guys, she was not a fan of David Letterman for years, whom she famously called an "a**hole" on air. During a spring 2017 concert in Maryland, Cher turned back the hands of time to revisit her infamous feud with the late-night talk show host. As the story goes, per People, Letterman wanted Cher to appear on the show and worked for over four years to make it happen. "I had a $28,000 hotel bill and Dave Letterman had always asked me to be on his show," Cher said at the concert. "And I said, 'Yes, if you have $28,000.' But they said no." Then things suddenly changed. "Then they called back and said yes!" She said. "The producers said, 'Why did you never want to be on the show before this?' and I said, 'Because [Letterman] is very smart and funny but he can be so cruel if he doesn't like the people.'" When Cher finally got on the show and revealed that Letterman covered her expensive hotel bill, he quipped it was all a ruse. "If you think this show will cover that hotel bill, you were sadly misled," he dished.

She also appeared on his final season and explained, "For a number of years, there's something that I've always wanted to get straight between us…. This is one thing that I really mean from the bottom of my heart, I'm not kidding, no bullsh*t: I really love you… and you're still an a**hole."

She suffers from dyslexia

Over the years, Cher has kept a pretty big secret to herself: she's dyslexic. Speaking with Entertainment Weekly in 1999, the star opened up on her daily struggles with the learning disability. In fact, she revealed she can't read music because of it. "I just hear it. But I'm better with lyrics," she said. "I have kind of a photographic memory because of it. I can read something and pretty much get the feeling of it the first time." Although she calls herself "pretty intelligent," which is a given with her decades long career, she claims school was extremely difficult. "School was pretty much an impossibility for me," she said.

In a pre-presidential election rally in 2016, Cher credited her dyslexia with helping her better understand LGBTQ struggles. "I understand, and I think this is a thing that I share with my gay brothers and sisters, that I understand shame for no reason," she said according to Gay Star News. "I understand trying to overcome what you shouldn't have to overcome, something that's just natural, that we are, the people who we are, the colors we are."

She still suffers from rocky marriage to Sonny Bono

Cher's most famous relationship was with ex-husband Sonny Bono, to whom she was married from 1964 to 1975. But as Cher recalled in a 2010 Vanity Fair interview (via The Daily Mail), it was no easy relationship. Cher, who appeared still wounded by the old marriage, flat-out called Bono a "terrible husband." She said Bono didn't really treat her like an equal or a wife, but "more like a golden goose than a wife." Cher added he had a tight grip on her and their 11-year union left her hurt "in so many ways."

Although she seemed a bit fragile about the topic, Cher said she's forgiven Bono for his harsh ways and admitted she would have stayed with him under one condition: if he had better managed his business. "I wouldn't have left him if he hadn't had such a tight grip… such a tight grip," she said. "He was so much more than a husband… a terrible husband, but a great mentor, a great teacher." The pair went on to welcome daughter Chastity Sun Bono in 1969. She later became known as Chaz.

Sonny Bono died from a ski accident in 1998. "When he died, everything changed. All of a sudden, he was gone, and it was a big loss. Our marriage was the least important thing that we did together," Cher told Vegas Magazine

She's got major self esteem issues

With a career spanning six decades, not to mention Oscar, Grammy and Emmy awards, Cher is still a bit self conscious. It's hard to believe given her legendary status and all she's accomplished both publicly and privately. But aging seems to be getting her down. "I just don't know how to accept [my age]," she quipped to Today. "I don't want to either – but I don't really know how to. I look in the mirror, and I see this old lady looking back at me. And I have no idea how she got there."

"If I put 70 candles on my cake, I would blow my brains out, you know?" Then came an even more shocking revelation about the star – proving that icons too suffer from poor self esteem. "I've never really been in love with Cher," she said.

Despite what some may see as minor depression, Cher doesn't want her personal feelings to interfere with her golden years of her career. "I say you have to be like a bumper car and you hit the wall, and you back up, and you go a different way — and then you go at the wall again," she explained of finding success on every avenue. "The only thing I know is not to give up. I don't know anything else."

Cher wasn't pleased with Chaz's transition

As any mother raising kids in the spotlight, relationships can be strained. Chaz, who was born female and transitioned to male in recent years, has said he suffered a rough relationship with his mom. "As far back as four or five I felt like a boy and wished I was a boy," Chaz told The Sun. "At the time I didn't know anything about people being transgender or changing their sex. As I started to get older I made the mistake of thinking I was gay. My mother is a gay icon yet she wasn't over the moon when I came out as a lesbian in 1995. I wasn't surprised by her reaction. In fact, I knew it was going to be bad." 

Things took an even bigger turn when in 2009, when then Chasity announced she was becoming a man. "It has been difficult for my mother but I respect that," he now says. "For parents this could be something that's kind of hard to deal with. It's a process of grieving for a child you've lost and adjusting to the new one taking their place. It takes a lot of time." But things are on the mend for both Chaz and Cher. In fact, she comes to the rescue whenever someone attempts to bully him. "If I'm taking flak in the press or people are being mean on Twitter, Cher will jump to my defense," he added.

Cher's rocky relationship with second son Elijah

Cher's second son, Elijah, has similar feelings about being the son of an icon. As he described to Entertainment Tonight, there are still issues in their relationship. "When you go to boarding school at 7 years old, it's kind of hard to feel like you're not being shunned," he said. "But I'm at an age where I'm making peace with it because you just have to. But I still … it doesn't mean it's right. It's still wrong to do that." 

At the time of the interview, Elijah confessed that his relationship with his mom was still rocky and they hadn't spoken in months. "You know, man, we have our issues," he said. "We've worked through a lot of them. We've got some more to go, but when you're an adult, you take on a different sort of tone than when you're an adolescent and I'm not going to sit in an adolescent's kind of a mind frame, because that will affect me negatively in my own life when I start my own family. So you don't have any choice if you want to be a balanced person, but to ultimately heal. But, there's unresolved stuff, for sure." Above all, he's still loves his mom and is a fan. "You know, she's really talented," Elijah quipped. "She's gorgeous—I mean, she's Cher. What's not to love?"

Cher's mom is still alive and kicking

Despite a rocky ups and downs with her own children, Cher is as close as ever with own mother Georgia Holt. Cher says her mom has been married six times and is basically her bestie. She told People they were always close "but we fought a lot when I was young. I was really strong-headed, even then…I didn't a couple of things like running away when I was 11. I hopped a train with my friends. I was just very adventurous – but never disrespectful."

And Holt has always been around for her daughter, including when times weren't good. "I had a little problem with her over Sonny, but that didn't take her too long to get over," Cher said. "She listened first before making a judgement, so I could always talk to her about my romances. She stressed the importance of being sure that the person you are with is the person you love.

In early 2017, Cher raised alarms when she suddenly pulled out of shooting a Lifetime movie over a "serious family issue." Insiders told Entertainment Tonight it was Cher's 91-year-old mother who concerned her. "You know, my mom is 91 and she's fabulous," Cher explained of her mother's fragile health. "She has some rough moments but for all [intents and] and purposes, she barely takes any medication. She has to worry about just a few things, about getting pneumonia. That's the thing I worry about the most."

She's not afraid of Donald Trump

Anyone following the pop star over social media and in the press the last several months should be well aware Cher is extremely political. In fact, she campaigned for former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton on a number occasions. But during an August 2016 rally in Provincetown, Mass., Cher ripped into Donald Trump, according to the Hollywood Reporter. "Do you remember Fun With Dick and Jane? It's like a racist Fun With Dick and Jane! He doesn't mean we want to 'Make America Great Again.' He means: We want to make America straight and white. He just says the weirdest sh*t," she argued. At another event just before the election in November, Cher ripped Trump again, reports Page Six. She said if he won the election, "I'm gonna have to leave the planet." Although she has packed up yet, she's still fighting the republican on Twitter, voicing her opposition every moment she gets.

She's also a big supporter of gay rights around the world. In 2013, she turned down an offer to perform at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia due to the country's anti-gay laws. She told Canada's MacLean magazine of a conversation she had with a friend who works for the Russian government, "I immediately said no. I want to know why all of this gay hate just exploded over there. He said the Russian people don't feel the way the government does."

She's best friends with Kathy Griffin

Some may think Cher would be besties with other big-name divas. But in reality, she's best gal pals with comedienne Kathy Griffin. Few know why these two women are drawn to each other. Despite the amazement and wonderment of everyone, the pair gets together regularly. In 2010, Griffin opened up about meeting Cher for the very first time in a stand up routine. Years later, Griffin let fans into their slumber party and documented it on a special Tumblr.

"Cher and I have gotten about 10 billion requests asking what happened on a recent Girls' Night In," Griffin shared on the social media site. "Things got a little out of hand, as she would say, 'like teenagers only more insane.' Enjoy, B*tches." 

As from the small captions and photos, the night went from calm to wild with full-blown show-business makeup. "Typically Cher demands a no makeup, sweatpants kind of situation for our nights in but on a recent visit," Griffin said. "Just to annoy her, I said, 'Will you do my makeup for me? Oh and make it sparkly.'" From there, fans learn that Cher's home is massive. She has a big Balinese style bathroom with drawers and drawers dedicated to makeup. Ultimately, the pair posed for photos with their new faces. Griffin tweeted about the magical night to which Cher responded, "Silly B*tch. Forgot how crazy we were! Obviously no cone of, pic of, video of silence Kathleen! Not enough glitter!"