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Reaction to Bono's death

January 6, 1998
Web posted at: 10:02 a.m. EST (1502 GMT)

(CNN) -- Sonny Bono made himself a star entertainer and then remade himself in the world of public service -- first as mayor of Palm Springs, California, and then as a Republican Congressman from California.

Along the way, he also remodeled his personal life.

He first gained fame with Cher, his singing partner in the 1960s and 1970s. They married in 1963 and divorced in 1974. At his death Bono was married to Mary Whitaker, whom he wed in 1986.

Here is a sampling of reaction to his death:

Bono spokesman Frank Cullen Jr.

  • The congressman's wife and children are "very distraught." icon (157K/15 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

    Capitol Hill
    The flag flies at half-staff on Capitol Hill Tuesday morning   
  • Bono was an "avid and proficient skier" who skied frequently with his family.

  • "He's truly a renaissance individual for our times. I've likened him to a Will Rogers voice in Congress (with) humor (and) common sense. He brought real legislative achievements, working on environmental issues for Southern California ... working on issues for the voters of California by protecting their will against activist judges. He was a well-rounded and dedicated law-maker."


  • Bono's former wife (born Cherilyn Sarkisian) had no immediate comment. "Of course she is upset by the news," said Barbara Charone, a London spokeswoman for Cher's record company, WEA.

  • Cher canceled an appearance in London at the opening of the Harrods Department Store January sale and flew back to the United States, a Harrods' spokesman said. (Full Story)

President Clinton

  • In a written statement, the president said he was saddened by Bono's death.

  • "His joyful entertainment of millions earned him celebrity, but in Washington he earned respect by being a witty and wise participant in policymaking processes that often seem ponderous to the American people."
Bono and Gingrich
Bono befriended Speaker Gingrich   

House Speaker Newt Gingrich

  • Bono was a "very dear friend" whose death is a "terrible shock."

  • "When I became speaker he began giving me advice on just how difficult it is to have this much news coverage. He did it in a wonderfully warm, direct and sincere way. We became very close."

  • Telling stories from his celebrity days, Bono was able to put fellow politicians at ease, even during tense moments. icon (237K/22 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

  • He was "happy... positive human being." icon (208K/19 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

  • "I'm not sure that he would have run for higher office but with every year he was gaining a respect in the House that was significant."

  • "He was a famous person in his own right and none of that had left him. When Sonny and I would be together, folks below a certain age -- and above a certain age -- would come to get my autograph. Everybody in the middle would go to see Sonny."

Sen. Ted Kennedy

  • The Massachusetts Democrat whose nephew, Michael, was killed in a Colorado ski accident on New Year's eve, said his family was "heartbroken" and felt an "echo" in its sadness, because of the similarity of the two deaths.

Tony Orlando

  • The singer, who with the group Dawn had many hits in the early 1970s, first met Bono in 1974 when Orlando arrived at CBS to begin working on his own TV variety show. Orlando remembers Bono making a newcomer feel welcome. icon 272K/25 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

  • Bono was a "wonderful songwriter and master showman (who became a) "master politician. He really cared about the people of the state of California."

  • "Everything you saw of Sonny on that (TV) screen ... was really the guy that lived within his heart."

Rep. William Thomas

  • Thomas, a fellow California Republican, called Bono a bright and talented man who took what he learned from his show business days and applied it to the political world. icon 272K/25 sec. AIFF or WAV sound

  • "He knew the highs. He knew the lows. Certainly his experiences as an entertainer and a star give him a different perspective but he also started with a relatively poor background. He could connect with anybody at any level."

Bono is survived by four children including two with Whitaker, 6-year-old Chianna and 9-year-old Chesare. He had one child with Cher -- Chastity, who is a lesbian activist. Bono also had one child, Christy, from another marriage.


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