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Record producer, singer, actor, and politician Sonny Bono picture(s)/pic(s), wallpaper and photo gallery, albums covers pictures.
Birth name: Salvatore Phillip "Sonny" Bono.
Born: February 16, 1935 Detroit, Michigan, USA.
Died: January 5, 1998 (aged 62) South Lake Tahoe, California, USA.
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives from California's 44th district.
Preceded by: Alfred A. McCandless.
Succeeded by: Mary Bono.
Born in Detroit, Michigan to Italian immigrants Jean and Santo, Bono began his music career working for the legendary record producer Phil Spector in the early 1960s as a promotion man, percussionist and "gofer." One of his earliest songwriting efforts was "Needles and Pins." Later in the same decade, he achieved commercial success, along with his then-wife Cher, as part of the singing duo Sonny and Cher. Bono wrote, arranged, and produced a number of hit records with singles like "I Got You Babe" and "The Beat Goes On," although Cher received more attention. Sonny and Cher starred in a popular television variety show, The Sonny and Cher Show, which ran on CBS from 1971 to 1977.
Bono continued his acting career, doing bit roles in such shows as Fantasy Island and The Love Boat. He played the part of mad bomber Joe Seluchi in Airplane II: The Sequel and the part of Franklin von Tussle in John Waters's Hairspray. In the film "Men In Black," Bono is one of several oddball celebrities seen on a wall of video screens that monitor extra-terrestrials living among us.
Bono entered politics after experiencing great frustration with local government bureaucracy in trying to open a restaurant in Palm Springs, California. With conservative talk radio host Marshall Gilbert as his campaign manager (and later as the godfather of his two children by his wife, Mary), Bono placed a successful bid to become the new mayor of Palm Springs. He was instrumental in making the city more business-friendly and in spearheading the creation of the Palm Springs International Film Festival, now held each year in Bono's memory.
After unsuccessfully running for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in 1992, Bono was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1994 to represent California's 44th District. To the benefit of the music industry, he was one of 12 co-sponsors of a House bill extending copyright. Although that bill was never voted on in the Senate, a similar Senate bill was passed after his death and named the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act in his honor.
He championed the restoration of the Salton Sea, bringing the giant lake's plight to national attention. Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich made a public appearance and speech at the shore of the lake on Bono's behalf.
In their book "Tell Newt to Shut Up", David Maraniss and Michael Weisskopf credit Bono with being the first person to recognize Gingrich's public relations problems in 1995. Drawing on his long experience as a celebrity and entertainment producer, Bono (according to Maraniss and Weisskopf) recognized that Gingrich's status had changed from politician to celebrity, and that Gingrich was not making allowances for that change:
"You're a celebrity now," he told Gingrich. "The rules are different for celebrities. I know it. I've been there. I've been a celebrity. I used to be a bigger celebrity. But let me tell you, you're not being handled right. This is not political news coverage. This is celebrity status. You need handlers. You need to understand what you're doing. You need to understand the attitude of the media toward celebrities."
Maraniss and Weisskopf go on to say that Gingrich did not heed Bono's advice. Gingrich was not interested in image for image sake, but rather in fulfilling his role as an elected leader.
Although a conservative, Bono's celebrity status and easy-going manner allowed him to develop friendships across party lines. In addition, Bono brought a plain-spoken sensibility to Congress. Asked for his views on illegal immigration, he responded, "what can I say, it's illegal." It is also noted that when his daughter Chastity came out as a lesbian, he was more accepting than Cher was at first.
Bono married his first wife, Donna Rankin, on Nov. 3, 1954 and they had a daughter, Christine ("Christy"), born on June 24, 1958, before divorcing in 1962. Bono and Cher had a daughter, Chastity Bono, on March 4, 1969. Six years later, in 1975, Bono and Cher divorced. Bono then married Susie Coelho, but divorced her in 1984; he married again in 1986 to the much younger Mary Whitaker. The couple had two children, Chesare Elan Bono (a son, born 1988) and Chianna Marie Bono (a daughter, born 1991). He became a Scientologist, partly because of the influence of Mimi Rogers, but stated that he was still a Roman Catholic on all official documents, campaign materials, web sites, etc. Mary Bono also took Scientology courses.
Bono was a champion of the Salton Sea in south-eastern-southern California where a park was later named in his honor. The 2005 documentary film Plagues and Pleasures on the Salton Sea (narrated by John Waters) features Bono and documented the lives of the inhabitants of Bombay Beach, Niland, and Salton City, as well as the ecological issues associated with the Sea.
He was the godfather of the Red Hot Chili Peppers singer Anthony Kiedis.
On January 5, 1998, Bono died of injuries after striking a tree while skiing on the Nevada side of the Heavenly Ski Resort near South Lake Tahoe, California.
He was 62 years old. Bono's death came just days after Michael Kennedy died in a similar accident. Bono's widow, Mary, was elected to fill the remainder of the Congressional term. She has since been re-elected in her own right. She continues to champion many of her late husband's causes, including the ongoing fight to save the Salton Sea.
His ex-wife, Cher, gave a tearful eulogy at Bono's funeral, after which the attendees sang the song "The Beat Goes On". His final resting place is Desert Memorial Park in nearby Cathedral City, California, the same cemetery in which Frank Sinatra was laid to rest later that same year. The epitaph on Bono's headstone reads: "And the beat goes on."
Bono in popular culture:
The rock band A have a song named "I Love Lake Tahoe" (featured on the A vs Monkey Kong album), which includes the line, "Yeah the trees are pretty wide / That's where Sonny Bono died". American pop singer Britney Spears did a cover of "The Beat Goes On" later in the same year that Bono died. The song appears on her debut album ...Baby One More Time.
The All Saints song "Never Ever" is dedicated to Bono's memory. Rapper Eminem has used Bono and the circumstances surrounding his death as a line in several songs, including "Role Model" and "Who Knew." In the latter song, he raps, "Skibbedy-be-bop, a-Christopher Reeves/Sonny Bono, skis, horses and hittin some trees."
A plaque near Dupont Circle in Washington D.C. reads: "In Memory of my friend Sonny Bono".