When Cher cemented her astonishing career comeback by winning an Oscar in 1988

24 March 2022, 18:32

Cher wins her Oscar for Moonstruck
Cher wins her Oscar for Moonstruck. Picture: Alamy

By Tom Eames

There aren't many singers who have managed to crossover into cinema so successfully that they took home an Oscar. Cher is one of the few who has.

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In 1988, Cher won an Academy Award for Best Actress for her role in Moonstruck opposite Nicolas Cage, which was a culmination of a career resurgence that began a few years previously (and it wouldn't be her last).

Cher first became known as the female half of 1960s singing duo Sonny and Cher, alongside her future husband, Sonny Bono. Their most famous song 'I Got You Babe' was a huge number one single in 1965, they had a child together, and they had a very successful TV show.

By the mid-1970s, Cher had launched her own solo career, having hits like 'Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves'. However, her own TV series Cher wasn't a big success, nor was her second marriage to rock star Gregg Allman.

As the decade rolled on, Cher was a single mother to son Elijah Blue, and her career had stalled. She started studying at Lee Strasberg’s Actors Studio in New York City, and landed a role in Robert Altman’s Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean in 1982.

Here, she rebranded herself as a serious actor. She won a Golden Globe and was nominated for an Oscar for her supporting role in Silkwood, starring Meryl Streep.

After a critically-acclaimed performance as the mother in 1985's Mask, the hit movies kept coming. In 1987, she starred in three big box office hits: The Witches of Eastwick with Jack Nicholson; Suspect with Dennis Quaid; and Moonstruck.

Moonstruck starred Cher as a widow who falls in love with her fiance’s brother, played by Nicolas Cage. At the 60th Academy Awards ceremony, Moonstruck won three awards: Best Actress, Best Supporting Actress for Olympia Dukakis, and Best Original Screenplay.

When picking up her prize, Cher wore a daring black mesh Bob Mackie outfit.

Oscar Winners Michael Douglas and Cher at Academy Awards 1988
Oscar Winners Michael Douglas and Cher at Academy Awards 1988. Picture: Getty

Speaking to the audience, Cher said: "Now I want to really, I want to really say something. When I was little my mother said, 'I want you to be something.' And I guess this represents 23 or 24 years of my work, and I've never won anything before from my peers.

"I'm really, really happy. I'd like to thank everyone I worked on with the movie. They were really fabulous. It was really a great experience for me. My makeup man, who had a lot to work with; my hairdresser; my assistant; my children, who've been so wonderful. The lady who taught me how to speak in this Brooklyn accent.

"And I would like to thank the women that I was nominated along with, because I feel really, really good because they were so great. And I would also like to thank Mary Louise Streep, who I feel so unbelievable that I did my first movie with her and now I was nominated with her, and I feel really thankful. And I don't think that this means that I am somebody, but I guess I'm on my way. Thank you."

At the time of her Oscar win, Cher’s music career was on the rise too. She had worked with Michael Bolton and Jon Bon Jovi, and her million-selling album, Heart of Stone, was released in 1988.

Cher with her Oscar in 1988
Cher with her Oscar in 1988. Picture: Getty

Strangely, her acting career pretty much stalled after her next movie, 1990's Mermaids, though she made a comeback on the big screen in films like Burlesque and Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again.

However, she went on to become a pop icon once more thanks to the juggernaut hit single 'Believe' in 1998.

Cher will no doubt go down as one of entertainment's greatest ever stars, and a true pop culture icon.