The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour is a variety show that ran on CBS in the United States from August 1971 until May 1974.
The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour (1971–1974)
In 1971, Sonny and Cher
had stopped producing hit singles. Cher
's first feature film, Chastity
, was not a success, and the duo decided to sing and tell jokes in nightclubs across the country. CBS head of programming Fred Silverman
saw them one evening and offered them their own show. The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
was originally supposed to be a summer replacement series, but high ratings gave Silverman sufficient reason to bring it back later that year, with a permanent spot on the schedule. The show was taped at CBS Television City
The show was a Top 20 hit in the ratings for its entire run. Each episode would open with the show's theme song, which would segue into the first few notes of "The Beat Goes On". Every episode, Sonny would exchange banter with Cher, who was usually very proficient in one-liners. Comedy skits would follow, mixed in with musical numbers. At the end of each episode, Sonny and Cher would sing their hit "I Got You Babe" to the audience, sometimes, with daughter Chastity Bono in tow.
Though still popular during its third season (1973-74), the show ended as a result of the Bonos' very public divorce.
In 2004, selected episodes from The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour were released in a three-disc set on Region 1 DVD.
The Sonny Comedy Revue
In 1974, Sonny and Cher agreed to end the show as they were separating from each other. Their timeslot was given to Tony Orlando and Dawn
the next fall. They both starred in separate variety shows over the next two years. Sonny Bono's 1974
variety series, The Sonny Comedy Revue
, only lasted a few episodes. Initially, people assumed that his show would be the greater success when it was heard that Cher was to appear in her own show.
Starting in early 1975, Cher also returned to network television with her solo variety show, entitled Cher
. It did well during its abbreviated run, and was renewed for the 1975-76 season. However, during the second season, Cher herself decided to end the show to work with Sonny again. Although, Sonny's show had all the cast and crew from the comedy hour and was expected to be the bigger hit, Cher's show easily became the greater success with ratings. Due to contracts, Cher was unable to perform many of her sketches and characters from the comedy hour on her show, instead, Sonny had them on his show.
The Sonny & Cher Show (1976–1977)
In the fall of 1976, the bitterness of their divorce behind them, the couple reunited for one last try with The Sonny and Cher Show
. It was basically the first variety series, but with different writers on board to create new sketches and songs. Many considered the "magic" that had made the show initially successful was gone now that the couple was no longer married, and that the barbs they aimed at one another were no longer cute after Sonny and Cher had gone through such a bitter divorce. Furthermore, with Cher being married to Gregg Allman
and being pregnant with his child, along with the general decline of variety shows from their peak during the 1950s and 1960s, the show was largely doomed. It ran for two seasons in this last format before being cancelled
At least for part of its run, The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour
only taped its opening and closing segments in front of a live studio audience, along with some musical guests -- which were actually taped after the closing segment was taped. All other segments were taped without an audience, with a laugh track added later.
Full List of Guest Stars
Season One (1971-1972)
Season 2 (1972-1973)
Season 3 (1973-1974)