Cher in 1983. Photography The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images.

10 videos of cher being the hero we need

Cher has lived many lives, but she’s living her best one in 2017 — as a prolific Trump critic and unexpected Future collaborator.

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28 September 2017, 10:08pm

Cher in 1983. Photography The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images.

At 71 years old, Cher is more zeitgeisty than ever. In the past two months alone, she has dueted with Future and released a surprisingly powerful pop banger via an animated alien. Perhaps most importantly, Cher's famously surrealist Twitter account has become a powerful platform for critiquing Trump. (Her recent tweets about DACA went viral, though she also tweets about environmental issues, the health benefits of sex, and how much she loves the hamster from the Kia Soul ads.) Her legacy as a ground-breaking performer and style icon is being cemented in 2017, too: in March, she won the Billboard Icon Award; last month, Kim Kardashian West appeared in a magazine cover story dressed entirely in homage to her "number one style icon" Cher (sequinned bodysuits, that endlessly influential butt-grazing hair). "To think that she was wearing these sheer dresses in the 70s and just what people must have thought back then," Kim wondered.

Cher, though, has never cared what people think. She dropped out of school at 16 and got married to her then music and life partner Sonny Bono at 18. She released several gold albums while becoming a youthquake fashion icon. She was deemed square for not doing drugs and being monogamous, but kept doing both. She became a mother. She led her own variety show in 1975, The Cher Show, in which she not only sang in outfits seemingly made from five Swarovski crystals and a tissue but also performed sketches with the likes of Bette Midler. After divorcing Sonny and later her second husband, she has dated men who are often decades her junior and sometimes more than one at a time. And her professional accomplishments are boundless: she is the only artist to have a number-one single on a Billboard chart in each decade from the 1960s to the 2010s, and she is only a Tony away from becoming an EGOT. That might change next year, when a musical about her life opens on Broadway.

Through it all, Cher has navigated her life and the vicissitudes of public popularity with wit, glamor, and integrity. Her outspokenness against Trump is just one of the things that make her a role model in 2017. Here's a ten-part montage of Cher being her most empowered, eccentric self.

Cher explains that she started practicing her autograph at 12 years old (1975)
"We were poor," Cher says about her upbringing in this early interview. "I always felt that being poor was such a drag, because I felt somehow it was my fault." By her own account, Cher became famous in reaction to her challenging childhood, and by sheer force of will. Crucially, she also did so by embracing what made her unique. Cher was bony and dark while her sister and mother were blonde, she explains (the family has Armenian and Cherokee heritage). Her mother would tell her she would never be the most beautiful or talented of her peers, but Cher always knew "there was something about me that's different." And so she would practice her autograph and promise herself that "When I grow up I'm going to be somebody." Cher's career has been a testament to the power of self-belief. As she once said, "I can do anything; I'm Cher."

Cher duets with David Bowie on her wacky disco-era variety show (1975)
After her divorce from Sonny, Cher says she realized, "I was stronger than I thought." She landed her own spinoff from the couple's popular cabaret TV show The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour and fronted The Cher Show as a diamanté-clad entertainment powerhouse. She showcased her inimitable sense of humor alongside Steve Martin, let loose with Tina Turner, and wore looks the world had never seen. Here she is singing "Young Americas" with David Bowie in a triangular red wig.

Cher discusses her Egyptian palace and 23-year-old boyfriend with Joan Rivers (1983)
Cher's love life is iconic in and of itself. In addition to her two marriages (the second to rock musician Gregg Allman), she has dated David Geffen, Gene Simmons, Val Kilmer, and Tom Cruise. In this interview, she confirms to Joan Rivers that she is seeing a man 14 years younger than her (she is 37 here). She also discusses her transition into what the media insisted on calling her "serious" acting career. In 1983, she was promoting her film Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean, followed not long after by the critically acclaimed Silkwood, for which she earned an Oscar nomination. She had also begun her lesser-known career as a real estate mogul: she had just put her Egyptian-themed palace in Los Angeles on the market for $5.9 million and would go on to flip multi-million-dollar properties an estimated 15 more times.

Cher on never trying to make people comfortable (1985)
"I wasn't willing to change myself so that people would feel comfortable," says Cher, after an interviewer incredulously asks her how she got where she did "without a man." Words to live by. "If I'd wanted to do what it was people wanted me to do and make them comfortable," she says. "I would still be with Sonny."

Cher calls David Letterman an "asshole" (1986)
As a young female musician in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, Cher fielded a barrage of sexist interview questions (see the video above). She was reluctant to go on Late Night with David Letterman, and when she finally agreed, she came with grade-A sass. "Is this as good as it gets?" she asks Letterman when he nervously makes small talk about her perfume. She later admits it took four years of persuasion to get her on Letterman because she thought he was an "asshole." She is only on the show, she continues, because the producers agreed to pay the "pretty big" hotel bill she has racked up in New York over the past two months.

Cher slaps Nicholas Cage in Moonstruck, wins Oscar (1987)
Name a more deserved award.

Cher clarifies she doesn't need to marry a rich man, because, "I am a rich man." (1996)
That quote again in full: "My mom said to me, one day you should settle down and marry a rich man. I said, 'Mom, I am a rich man.'" Write it on my gravestone! (Cher is currently worth an estimated $305 million.)

Cher shows Rosie O'Donnell her gothic homeware collection (1996)
Cher has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. In the early 90s, she starred in infomercials for beauty and haircare products. But perhaps her most unforgettable enterprise was Sanctuary, a mail-order catalog business akin to a Gothic Pottery Barn. Here she is showing Rosie O'Donnell a frog-shaped jewelry box, chainmail candelabra, and medieval needlepoint of her own design. While Cher was mocked at the time for "selling out" ( SNL parodied her infomercials), her vision was ahead of its time. Not only did she see the value in marketing herself as a lifestyle brand — paving the way for her future protégé Kim Kardashian among others — but her company was also democratic and affordable. As she tells Rosie, "rich people can find whatever they want, so who cares about them."

Cher and RuPaul fantasize about a world run by women (1997)
In which Cher reveals she uses her Oscar as a doorstop, promotes her twenty-first studio album ( It's a Man's World), and describes her utopian vision of a world run by women — all rounded out by a Ru-Cher duet. Cher has been an LGBTQ icon and advocate for decades, and the year after this interview was filmed received the GLAAD Vanguard Award.

Cher speaks for over half of America when she responds to Trump's victory (2016)
Cher has been a Hillary Clinton supporter since her 2008 presidential run, and campaigned for Clinton throughout her 2016 campaign, giving speeches at fundraisers across the country. When the election results came in on the morning of November 9, Cher articulated what approximately 65,844,953 other Americans were feeling: "It's like there's a death in my family." Happily, her Twitter account has become a light in the darkness of 2017. Not only does she deliver iconic burns such as "Donald Trump Can't come up with a hairstyle that looks human,how can he come up with a plan to defeat ISIS", but Cher has also used her platform to offer her home to refugees and speak out about climate change. Cher for president?