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Sonny & Cher Show

Sonny and Cher Shows
Part Four: The Return Of Sonny and Cher

 

Sonny & Cher TV ShowSunday night February 1, 1976, just a month after the Cher show went off the air, with Cher pregnant by her estranged new husband (rock star Greg Allman) The Sonny and Cher Show debuted to top-ten ratings and high expectations.

Watch a 1975 press conference held by Sonny & Cher announcing that the duo will return to primetime despite their divorce.

"When we go out there in front of our first audience tonight," Sonny Bono commented during the first episode taping, "We'll be telling them everything they already knew about Sonny and Cher, but were afraid to ask."

Sonny and CherThe new series was produced by Nick Vanoff (The Hollywood Palace) and featured regulars Ted Zeigler, Billy Van, mime act Shields and Yarnell, and Galaird Sartain (the Cher show's only regular and future Hee-Haw player). Of course, daughter Chastity Bono was on hand to help them say goodnight. At least by now she could talk.

CBS censors took a stronger look at this new show, now on an hour earlier than the original series to attract a younger audience. The network complained that Cher's clothes and image were not appropriate for a recent divorcee. "Suddenly I should start coming off like Julie Andrews" was Cher's answer, "Hell, Sonny didn't die."

Sonny & Cher BonoThe show's ratings fell steadily over the next few weeks, as did the quality of the skits. For legal reasons, it was decided that none of the characters or situations from the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour could be reprised for this new hour. The new regular features the creative staff came up with (like 'Sonnytone News') were awful. Still, based on the early strong ratings, the show was renewed for a second season.

Cher photoThe 1976-77 season tried to recapture the magic of the original series with the return of the 'LaVern' and 'Vamp' sketches and former regular Terri Garr was brought back as a guest more often. Even seven year-old Chastity started appearing regularly in comedy segments.

Mid-season, the Sonny and Cher Show was moved to Friday nights at 9, then to Monday nights at 10 as the program attempted to appeal to a more adult audience - as a result, the opening dialogues between Sonny and Cher were better than ever as the couple sparred over their separately dysfunctional lives.

The show even re-ran the very popular animated musical films (like 'Big Yellow Taxi' and 'Bad, Bad Leroy Brown') from the original Comedy Hour and CBS used the same print ads they were running for the original show, complete with six year-old pictures - but all of this proved to be too little, too late.

sonny and cher adIt didn't help the couple's image any that the second season started with Cher now officially divorced from her new husband, the father of her three month-old baby. The Sonny and Cher Show hovered near the bottom of the ratings for most of the second year before limping off the air August 29, 1977.

The last episode broadcast was actually a re-run of an original Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour. Sonny and Cher were canceled for good after hosting four different variety series between them in just six years.


Here are Sonny & Cher from 1979, their last appearance together until The David Letterman Show in 1988. Sonny, who was having no luck as a solo performer, was a guest the week Cher co-hosted The Mike Douglas Show.


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