Sonny Bono Killed In Skiing Accident
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. (AllPolitics, Jan. 6) -- Rep. Sonny Bono, who first stepped into the spotlight as half of the singing duo Sonny and Cher, was killed Monday in a skiing accident, authorities said early Tuesday. He was 62.
Bono, an avid skier, was reported missing
about 4:30 p.m. at Heavenly Ski Resort in
South Lake Tahoe, California. The resort is
about 55 miles (88 km) southwest of Reno, Nevada, on the California-Nevada state
line. A ski patrol searched the Nevada side of the mountain and found the body some
two hours later.
Lt. Ross Chichester said the preliminary investigation indicates that it was an
accident. He added that the cause of death has not been determined, pending an
The main lodge manager at Heavenly Ski Resort, Stan Miller, told The Associated
Press that Bono was skiing alone at the top of the Orion slope when he crossed
beneath a chairlift and hit a tree.
The resort said that Bono had been a frequent
skier at the slope for more than 20 years.
Bono was on a vacation with his wife, Mary
Whitaker, and their two children, 6-year-old
Chianna and 9-year-old Chesare, when the
"They were enjoying a family vacation," his
spokesman Frank Cullen Jr. said Tuesday.
"He was a very proficient skier. He skied
frequently with his family and, yes, he was
an athletic guy -- he skied and played
Bono was first elected to Congress in
1994 as a Republican from Palm
Springs, where he was mayor from
1988-92. At one point after taking
office, he was the second-most
requested draw at members' events
after House Speaker Newt
"People have said to me, 'You can't write songs. You can't play an instrument.' But
I've got 10 gold records. I can do this job," Bono once said of his political duties.
Bono worked as a singer, songwriter and
television performer from 1957 to 1982. He
was perhaps best known as the straight man
to Cher on "The Sonny and Cher Show" on
CBS-TV in the early 1970s. Their first big
pop tune, "I Got You Babe," was a number
one hit in 1965.
During his showbiz days, Bono always
portrayed himself as a worse singer than
Cher and the object of her putdowns -- an
image he sometimes carried over onto the
House floor. "I feel kind of like the black
sheep in Congress, but here I am," he once
Beneath his squeaky voice and sheepish
grin, Bono possessed an atypically candid style. When asked to talk about illegal
immigration, he once replied, "What's to talk about? It's illegal."
Bono worked to get federal aid to preserve the habitats of various endangered species
in Riverside County, Calif. But when the Endangered Species Act required
millions from local government and property owners to protect the Stephens' Kangaroo
rat in Riverside, he said, "We all love the environment, but we have placed creatures
above people. A rat is a rat."
Bono was born Feb. 16, 1935, in Detroit, Mich., to a first generation
Sicilian-American family and moved to the Los Angeles area when he was 7 years
Bono married Cher in 1963. They divorced in 1974. He married Whitaker in 1986
and is survived by four children including Chastity Bono, whose mother is Cher.