Sonny Bono: Behind the Music #17

Season 1 Ep 171/11/1998

He couldn't sing or read music but he became a songwriter and pop star. And though he never cast a vote in his life, he was elected Mayor of Palm Springs, then Congressman. If there's a lesson to be learned from Sonny Bono's life, which ended tragically in a skiing accident in early 1998, it's that ideas and perseverance will get you far - even if you're a funny -looking guy who didn't go to college. It wasn't until Sonny was 28, when he met then-16-year-old Cher, that his musical path presented itself. Sonny brought the songs, Cher brought the style and the voice, and by 1965 they created a pop sensation, kicking off a string of hits with their #1 signature song "I Got You Babe." By the early '70s, the pair were household names, but their TV bickering became all too real, and after several bits of on-screen teasing, the couple divorced. Sonny never achieved the same level of success in the entertainment industry; in fact, when Cher was starring in films like Silkwood , he was flubbing his lines on Fantasy Island. But at 51 things turned around for him: Sonny remarried and opened a successful restaurant. One day it occurred to him to run for Mayor and he won by the largest margin in Palm Springs history. Like everything he set his mind to, Sonny had accomplished it by sheer determination. BTM follows his remarkable story, talking with friends and associates, and most movingly, his grief-stricken mother.