LOS ANGELES – Cher’s lawsuit claiming Sonny Bono’s widow owes her $1 million in unpaid royalties for Sonny & Cher songs inched towards trial after closed-door settlement talks last week failed, according to court papers obtained Monday by City News Service.
Attorneys for Cher and ex-Rep. Mary Bono notified the judge in a filing late Friday that the parties participated in a mediation, “and that a settlement was not achieved.”
Cher filed suit against the widow of her former partner/husband in the folk-pop duo in October 2021 in Los Angeles federal court.
Cher alleges that Bono’s estate, administered by his widow, improperly tried to terminate her rights in Sonny & Cher royalties for such hits as “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On.”
According to the complaint, the Bono Collection Trust claimed that its 2016 notices of termination to several music publishers also applied to Cher’s royalty rights.
Mary Bono, 61, countered that the federal Copyright Act allows her to terminate the 50% right to royalties that Sonny Bono agreed to pay Cher when the ex-couple signed their divorce settlement in 1978.
U.S. District Judge John A. Kronstadt set a March 13 post-mediation status conference in the case. Mary Bono’s motion for dismissal is pending and a trial date has not yet been scheduled.
Cher, now 76, and Sonny Bono married in 1964 and began performing under the name Caesar and Cleo, before switching to Sonny & Cher. In addition to their music, the couple built their celebrity via television, starring in the 1971-74 CBS variety show, “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour.”
Their career as a duo waned by the mid-1970s, though each was successful on their own — Cher in movies such as “Mask” and “Moonstruck” and Bono as a California politician.
Sonny Bono was mayor of Palm Springs from 1988-92 and a Republican congressman from 1995 until his death in a skiing accident in 1998. He was succeeded by Mary Bono, who served until 2013.