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Eulogy for Sonny Bono
Delivered 9 January
1998 in Palm Springs, California
my papers, but I've been writing this stupid eulogy for the last 48 hours.
And, of course, I know that this would make Sonny really happy. It's like
Den said: "He got the last laugh."
So because I've had to write some of it down doesn't mean that I'm unprepared.
It just means that I'm over prepared in that this is probably the most
important thing I've ever done in my life. Don't pay any attention [weeping].
This is probably going to happen from time to time. And I also know that
he is some place loving this Also, I have to wear the glasses that I made
so much fun of him. I called him Mr. Magoo. I said, "You know, you've
got to get some better glasses. You know, I don't care if you're Republican
or not, you've got to look cooler than this." So now I have to wear
the glasses that I make fun of him for saying. There are a couple of things
-- I want to tell some stories -- but there are a couple of things I really
want to get perfect for him. So I have to read.
Some people were under the misconception that Son was a short man, but
he was heads and tails taller than anyone else. He could see above the
tallest people. He had a vision of the future and just how he was going
to build it. And his enthusiasm was so great that he just swept ever body
along with him. Not that we knew where he was going, but we just wanted
to be there (audience laughs). He was also successful at anything he ever
tried. Not the first time he tried maybe, but he just kept going. If he
really wanted something, he kept going until he achieved it. Once he told
me that, when he was a teenager, he got his nose broken six times because
he used to get into fights with guys that were much bigger than him. And
he said that they would just be beating the crap out of him and would
just be keep going back and going back and going back. I said, "Well,
why?" And he said, "Because eventually I would just wear them
down." (audience laughs). And if you know him, we all got worn down.
Some people thought that Son wasn't very bright, but he was smart enough
to take an introverted 16-year-old girl and a scrappy little Italian guy
with a bad voice and turn them into the most successful and beloved couple
of this generation. And some people thought that Son wasn't to be taken
seriously because he allowed himself to be the butt of the jokes on the
Sonny and Cher show. What people don't realize is that he created Sonny
and Cher. And he knew what was right for us, you know? He just always
knew the right thing. And he wanted to make people laugh so much that
he had the confidence to be the butt of the joke because he created the
When I was 16-years-old, I met Sonny -- Salvatore Philip Bono. And the
first time I ever saw him, he walked in this room. And I had never seen
anything like him before in my life. Because he was Sonny way before we
were Sonny and Cher. He had this thing about him. He walked into this
room, and I swear to God I saw him and like everybody else in this room
was just washed away in this soft focus filter -- kind of like when Maria
saw Tony at the dance. And I looked at him, and he had like this weird
hair-do between Caesar and Napoleon. As a matter of fact, one of the first
things that he ever told me was that he was a descendent of Napoleon,
and that his father had shortened the name of Bonaparte to Bono when he
came to this country. But that he didn't want to make too big a deal out
of this. Now you have to realize, at this time, he was talking to a girl
who thought that Mount Rushmore was a natural phenomenon. So we were definitely
a marriage made in heaven.
I lied to him about how old I was. I've told this story, but somehow it
always keeps coming back. I told him that I was 18, and of course I wasn't.
I was the most bizarre 16-year-old that you probably would come across.
I had all kinds of phobias and all kinds of insecurities and all kinds
of energies that just couldn't be harnessed. Except Son saw something.
And I didn't have a place to stay and he said, “You know, you can
come and live with me because I have twin beds and really I don't find
you attractive.” I didn't really know how to take it, but I was
really glad to have a place to stay.
And when people would call or come over and say, “Who's that girl?”
“Oh, that's just Cher.” We spent this whole time together
and I was just Cher. I was this kid and he kind of took care of me. I
told my mom I was living with a stewardess. And every time that my mom
would call, I always said, “Mom, call me before you come over.”
Every time my mom would call, I'd grab all of Sonny's clothes and run
down the street and throw all his clothes into my girlfriend's living
room window. And I lost most of his clothes that year. One time he came
into the house and he had his jockey shorts in his hand and he said, “Cher,
you've just got to stop doing this. I found these on the street.”
So nothing happened with us romantically until my mom made me move out.
When I was packing my things, we both just looked at each other and we
started crying and I didn't even know why. And then I just realized once
I was there that I just missed him so much -- I was so used to him being
a part of my life. And I also had to tell him at that time that I wasn't
18. That I was 17, but I was about to turn 18. And when we were crying
-- he actually cried too -- I said, “Well, I'm not 17 about to turn
18. I'm 16 about to turn 17, but I can't go through the rest of my life
without you. So if my mother threatens to put you in jail, could you just
do it anyway.” So my mother kept threatening him all that year.
But then I turned 18 and everything was all right.
I want to close, but
I wanted to tell Mary and Chesare and Chianna how proud I am of what he
made himself after we were separated and his accomplishments. And I know
that a person just doesn't decide to become a Congressman in the middle
of their life and then be one. But it's just so typical of Sonny to do
something so crazy like that. And also it puts my mind at peace to know
that in the end of his days that he had such a wonderful family life.
And I know how much he loved Mary and Chesare and Chianna. And I know
how much they loved him. And also I know how much he loved his friends.
He was the greatest friend. If you'd seen our house for the last five
days -- Mary's house for the last five days -- we can't get rid of everybody.
Everybody's just there, you know. And it's the way you would have wanted
it. He would have been in the middle cooking -- not eating, just tasting.
And making everybody else eat.
So the last thing I want to say is, when I was young, there was this section
in the Reader's Digest. It was called "The Most Unforgettable Character
I've Ever Met." And for me that person is Sonny Bono. And no matter
how long I live or who I meet in my life, that person will always be Sonny
a personalized candle at the memorial service and placing a flower in
the personalized bud vase