SONNY & CHER
Not as commercially successful, but probably the most-remembered variety series of the 70s is "The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour." Introduced as a trial run in the summer of 1971, Sonnyand Cher found a permanent home on the CBS networks midseason schedule. It wasnt an instant hit. The show managed to sneak into the # 8 spot when no one was looking.
Salvatore Bono and Cherilyn LaPiere were the main characters of an unlikely success story. They met in the mid-60s while Sonny was a struggling songwriter/musician and Cher an aspiring actress and singer. It wasnt long before they were married and teamed up to spend almost a decade performing in clubs and auditoriums. Considered "rock freaks" by other musicians and much of the public, the Bonos sported unconventional bangs and fur vests. They didnt seem to fit in, but Sonny was determined that their talent would prevail. What he didnt know was that their tours allowed them to hone their greatest future asset, the sadistic interplay between husband and wife on stage.
Sonnys perseverance eventually led to the idea that their routine would be great material for a comedy show on television. Their hit single "I Got You Babe" gave them the leverage they needed to land the singing, dancing, and comedy show "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour" from 1971 to 1974. The recurring comedy sketches included Chers "Vamp" segments in which she portrayed notorious women in history; "Sonnys Pizza" segment featuring Sonny as the dumb owner of a pizza parlor and Cher as waitress Rosa; "Dirty Linen" segments with Cher as "Laverne," sharing her views on men with a friend at the laundromat; and headline news spoofs.
By May of 1974, the "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour" was at its peak of popularity and reached its highest spot in the ratings. The Bonos marriage wasnt quite as successful. Their union dissolved a few months before the end of the third season, and to the disappointment of viewers across the country, their TV show met an equally abrupt demise.
Citing that they could no longer work together, they both made an attempt to work alone. Within months, "The Sonny Comedy Revue" premiered on NBC, and "Cher" was televised by CBS. It was soon obvious that the chemistry they had together didnt emerge on their own. Both series were canceled within the first year on the air.
Sonny had always been the one to forge new ventures for the duo in the past, but this time Cher asked Sonny to reunite their TV partnership for "The Sonny and Cher Show" in 1976. Even though their private lives were headed in different directions, they revived their comedy and singing personas to try and recapture the magic. Sonny and Cher werent able to recover their original variety show audience, and the reunion ended in little over a year.I GOT TOYS BABE
Anticipating another hit show, the Mego Company designed a line of Sonny and Cher dolls and accessories in 1976. Both dolls were 12 1/4" replicas, fully jointed, and closely resembled the stars. Sonny came in one version. He was dressed in blue jeans, white shirt, and black shoes and was packaged in a window display box. Cher, on the other hand, was issued in a few variations. To match the Sonny doll, one was created with a dark skin tone, rooted eyelashes, and long, silky black hair. Wearing a pink dress, she too was packaged in a window display box. Both can be found between $75-$100 each.
Another Cher doll by Mego was packaged in a red window display box with a photo of Cher appearing on the box front. The doll body was molded differently. The doll head was the same, but the body was non-articulated and made out of hollow plastic. This same doll was also packaged in a clear plastic bag. The red boxed doll is valued at $75, while the bagged version is worth about $50. The most deluxe edition of the Cher doll was the Growing Hair Cher that came in three different box designs. Chers long black mane could become even longer by pulling the thick strands out from the back of her head. Dont worry, they were easily tucked back in place by pulling the ring from her back. Expect to pay nearly double that of the standard issue doll to add this to your collection.
The same fashion designer that created Chers extravagant gowns for "The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour" was enlisted to design small-scale versions for the doll. Bob Mackie fashions by Mego were equally extravagant, but may be considered gaudy by todays standards. The names of the ensembles give insight as to what was packaged in each window display box and blister card. Cher outfits can be found on blue cards, green, purple and black boxes. There were over 30 designs with names like Electric Feathers, Indian Squaw, Laverne, Fortune Teller, Pink Fluff, and Pink Panther. The carded versions can be found for $30-$50 each, while some of the box styles can go for $75 and up.
Bob Mackie obviously enjoyed creating Cher fashions more than those for Sonny. Only six Sonny versions were made, including Private Eye, Space Prince, Buckskin, Hoedown, Gypsy King, and White Tux. They are valued between $25-$35.
Besides doll outfits, other doll accessories were the product of Mego. Chers dressing room was available as a playset for the dolls. The set was designed to fold open into a backstage dressing room. It included a couch, coffee table, dressing table, and hangers for a wardrobe closet. Magic mirror cards were included to give the illusion that Cher could see her reflection while wearing one of her designer gowns. New magic mirror cards were available with some of the boxed outfits sold separately. Chers dressing room is valued at $75-$100 when found in the original box.
The Cher Travel Trunk was designed to store the dozens of Bob Mackie fashions. Housed in a red box, the trunk exterior featured travel stickers to showcase the many imaginary exotic locations the Cher doll had visited, such as Spain, the Caribbean, and Mexico. Only six hangers were included, which was minimal compared to the number of outfits that could be purchased. The trunk also featured an accessories drawer. This is one of the most difficult Cher accessories to find, resulting in a $125-$150 price tag.
The largest Mego collectible is size is the Sonny and Chers Theatre in the Round. The square box was only a few inches deep, but over 2 1/2 feet wide. Inside were pieces that assembled into a stage with three revolving rooms. A dressing room, stage, and backstage included a vanity with chair, piano, bench, microphone, stool, spotlights, TV camera, and backdrops. Due to the couples untimely separation during the production of this item, two packaging variations can be found. The front label that originally pictured both Sonny and Cher wassimply replaced with one displaying only Cher. Chers Theatre in the Round, as well as Sonny and Chers Theatre, are both valued between $175-$200.
Perhaps the most rare doll accessory was Megos Sonny and Cher Chevy Roadster. The red sport vehicle seemed a bit under-scale, as the two dolls would share little space while touring around in this snug plastic jalopy. Packaged in a matching red box with a photo of the dolls in the car, it is valued at about $200.
AND THE TOYS GO ON
As Sonny and Cher memorabilia was quickly filling store isles in 1976, it became evident that everything was coming from the Mego Corporation. In addition to dolls and accessories, there was a handful of other items Mego made to dazzle fans. Chers head and bust were transformed into a life-like plastic replica for two different styling centers. One labeled as a Cher Makeup Center included a variety of makeup, hair brushes and ribbons, eye lashes, and vinyl signature bag. Another set came with similar contents and was packaged as a Growing Hair Styling Center. This head set included extra locks of hair that could be pulled from the back and put back in place with the pull of a string much like that of the Growing Hair Cher doll. Each boxed styling center is valued at $75-$100.
Young girls could also accessorize themselves with Cher Jewelry. More of a toy then actual gems, these eccentric sets include pieces such as a large wooden logo necklace, hoop earrings, and beaded wristband. Each set was packaged on a 9" x 11 1/2" blister card containing a unique illustration of the super star. A tote bag featuring Chers logo was also available - possibly to hold all the valuable jewelry sets.
In 1977, Mego introduced their last item in this extraordinary line of memorabilia. Chers Sing-Along Phono was packaged with a photograph of Cher on the box front, sporting her newly trimmed and curled hairdo. Other sides of the box picture previous Cher Mego products. The record player includes an embossed Cher logo on the lid with a working microphone, amplifier and adapter. The price of this musical number will surpass any other Sonny and Cher Mego products.
For older fans that were beyond doll play, there were several Sonny and Cher paper commodities available. The famous pop duo graced the cover of numerous magazines during their hay day, while Cher took center stage as the subject of a few books. For under a dollar, TV & Movie Screen, Rona Barretts Hollywood, and Photo Screen were quick to reveal their private lives, rare photos, and some behind-the-scenes gossip. Today, these informative publications can be cashed in at around $25 each. Paperback books of Cher bring in about the same value and include titles such as Superstar of the Seventies CHER! and Cher, Simply Cher.
If owning all the toys, magazines and books still leave a void in your collection, there is an abundance of music-related paraphernalia to collect. Since the pair started their recording career in the mid-60s, there are many albums, singles, tour books and sheet music to uncover. With words and music by Sonny himself, "The Beat Goes On" is one of the most coveted of all their sheet music. Recorded in 1967, this Top-10 hit became the theme to their TV show. The youthful couple is pictured on the 9" x 12" cover, which holds a value of about $30. From the vinyl collection, one of the more obscure items to find is a tiny 4" flexi-disc given out by Ford Motor Company. The record came sealed in a red paper envelope that sported a early photo of Sonny and Cher and included their number one hit "I Got You Babe" and "The Beat Goes On." Today, this mini-disc is valued at $40.
THE "I GOT YOU BABE" CHECK LIST