5 Things You Didn't Know About Cher

Ethan Miller, Getty Images
Ethan Miller, Getty Images

Cher's done a little bit of everything. She's blown up the pop charts, hosted a hit variety show, and even won an Oscar. Let's take a look at five things you might not know about the woman who was born Cherilyn Sarkisian.

1. She Sang on More Famous Songs Than You Think

Before she struck out as a solo artist and worked with Sonny Bono, both Sonny and Cher worked for Phil Spector. Bono later described his job as "a general flunky for Phillip." Both also sang backup vocals when Spector needed session singers, so Cher's pipes are somewhere in a number of Spector's biggest hits. She sang backup on the Crystals' "Da Do Ron Ron," the Ronettes' "Be My Baby," and the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'." Listen closely and see if you can hear her.

Spector actually produced Cher's first solo single, a commercial flop called "Ringo, I Love You." Don't look for it under Cher's name, though. She released the record under the name Bonnie Jo Mason. Have a listen:

2. She's Not Much on Acceptance Speeches

In 1988 Cher won the Academy Award for Best Actress for her starring role in Norman Jewison's Moonstruck. When Cher went on stage to receive her Oscar, she gave a big shout-out to her hair and makeup artist...but forgot to thank her director, Jewison. Cher immediately realized her gaffe – she blamed the omission on being nervous – and decided to take drastic steps to recognize Jewison. The next day, she took out a full-page ad in Variety thanking the director.

Cher got another chance to tip her cap to Jewison earlier this year. When the Academy decided to give Jewison a lifetime achievement award, Cher was the presenter. This time she remembered to thank the director for Moonstruck.

3. She Irked the Navy

It seems fairly tame by today's standards, but Cher's video for her 1989 single "If I Could Turn Back Time" caused a major stir. The video depicts Cher singing to a group of sailors aboard the USS Missouri, which isn't so objectionable. Her outfit, though, was pretty over the top: a fishnet body stocking over a skimpy bathing suit. Even MTV worried that the getup was a bit too revealing; the network made a policy of only playing the video after 9 p.m.

The Navy wasn't pleased, either. Officials had allowed Cher to use the Missouri as a set because it seemed like a good way to glamorize the Navy for MTV viewers. They hadn't anticipated her wardrobe choice, though. The Navy told the press that it had originally approved the video shoot under the pretense that Cher would be doing a sweet little story about a sailor who gets a Dear John letter. Instead, they got this:

4. She Got a Rise Out of David Letterman

When David Letterman was still getting his footing as a late night host, he really wanted Cher on his show. She repeatedly declined before eventually repenting and appearing on the couch in May of 1986. The singer then took the opportunity to bust the host's chops a bit. Check it out for yourself:

Cher's delivery of the "asshole" line was so deadpan that it threw Letterman for a huge loop. Even though Cher slipped him a note that said, "Dearest David, you'r not an asshole. Love, Cher," Letterman later told People magazine, "I felt like a total fool, especially since I say all kinds of things to people. I was sitting there thinking, 'Okay, Mr. Big Shot, can you take it as well as you can dish it out?'"

5. She Isn't Afraid to Endorse a Product

Cher is also responsible for some of the most baffling celebrity endorsements of all time. During an early 90s lull in her music career, Cher started working as a pitchman for some spectacularly bizarre products. In 1994 she launched her own line of mail-order home furnishings. Entertainment Weekly described the pieces as resembling "a sort of medieval L.L. Bean."

She also ventured out into the world of infomercials for a line of hair and skin care products. If anything, these videos are a testimony to Cher's talent; they would have killed pretty much anyone else's career.

Amazon's Under-the-Radar Coupon Page Features Deals on Home Goods, Electronics, and Groceries

Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
Stock Catalog, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Now that Prime Day is over, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday still a few weeks away, online deals may seem harder to come by. And while it can be a hassle to scour the internet for promo codes, buy-one-get-one deals, and flash sales, Amazon actually has an extensive coupon page you might not know about that features deals to look through every day.

As pointed out by People, the coupon page breaks deals down by categories, like electronics, home & kitchen, and groceries (the coupons even work with SNAP benefits). Since most of the deals revolve around the essentials, it's easy to stock up on items like Cottonelle toilet paper, Tide Pods, Cascade dishwasher detergent, and a 50 pack of surgical masks whenever you're running low.

But the low prices don't just stop at necessities. If you’re looking for the best deal on headphones, all you have to do is go to the electronics coupon page and it will bring up a deal on these COWIN E7 PRO noise-canceling headphones, which are now $80, thanks to a $10 coupon you could have missed.

Alternatively, if you are looking for deals on specific brands, you can search for their coupons from the page. So if you've had your eye on the Homall S-Racer gaming chair, you’ll find there's currently a coupon that saves you 5 percent, thanks to a simple search.

To discover all the deals you have been missing out on, head over to the Amazon Coupons page.

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7 People Killed by Musical Instruments

On occasion, a piano has been a literal instrument of death.
On occasion, a piano has been a literal instrument of death.
Pixabay, Pexels // Public Domain

We’re used to taking it figuratively. One “slays” on guitar, is a “killer” pianist, or wants to “die” listening to a miraculous piece of music. History, though, is surprisingly rich with examples of people actually killed by musical instruments. Some were bludgeoned and some crushed; others were snuffed out by the sheer effort of performing or while an instrument was devilishly played to cover up the crime. Below are seven people who met their end thanks to a musical instrument.

1. Elizabeth Jackson // Struck with a Flute

A German flute.The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments (1889), Metropolitan Museum of Art // Public Domain

David Mills was practicing his flute the night of March 25, 1751, when he got into a heated argument with fellow servant Elizabeth Jackson. A woman “given to passion,” she threw a candlestick at Mills after he said something rude. He retaliated by striking her left temple with his flute before the porter and the footman pulled them apart. Jackson lived for another four hours, able to walk but not make sensible speech. Her fellow servants decided to bleed her, a sadly ineffective treatment for skull fractures. “Her s[k]ull was remarkably thin,” the surgeon testified at Mills’s trial.

2. Louis Vierne // Exhausted by an Organ Recital

Louis Vierne plays the organ of St.-Nicolas du Chardonnet in Paris, France.Source: gallica.bnf.fr, Bibliothèque nationale de France // Public Domain

Reputed to be the king of instruments, the organ requires a performer with an athletic endurance—more than 67-year-old Louis Vierne had to give during a recital at Notre Dame cathedral on June 2, 1937. He collapsed (likely of a heart attack) after playing the last chord of a piece. With a Gallic appreciation for tragedy, one concertgoer noted the piece “bears a title which, given the circumstance, seems like fate and takes on an oddly disturbing meaning: ‘Tombstone for a dead child’!” As Vierne’s lifeless feet fell upon the pedalboard “a low whimper was heard from the admirable instrument, which seemed to weep for its master,” the concertgoer wrote.

3. James “Jimmy the Beard” Ferrozzo // Crushed by a Piano

The exterior of the Condor Club in 1973.Michael Holley, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Getting crushed by a piano is usually the stuff of cartoons, but what happened to James Ferrozzo is somehow even stranger than a cartoon. “A nude, screaming dancer found trapped under a man’s crushed body on a trick piano pinned against a nightclub ceiling was too drunk to remember how she got there,” the AP reported the day after the 1983 incident. The dancer was a new employee at San Francisco’s Condor Club (said to be one of the first, if not the first, topless bar). The man was her boyfriend, the club’s bouncer. And the trick piano was part of topless-dancing pioneer Carol Doda’s act—a white baby grand that lowered her from the second floor. During Ferrozzo’s assignation with the dancer, the piano’s switch was somehow activated, lifting him partway to heaven before deadly contact with the ceiling sent him the rest of the way.

4. Linos // Killed with a Lyre

A student and his music teacher, holding a lyre—potentially Herakles and Linos.Petit Palais, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.5

One of the greatest music teachers of mythic Ancient Greece, Linos took on Herakles as a pupil. According to the historian Diodorus Siculus, the demi-god “was unable to appreciate what was taught him because of his sluggishness of soul,” and so after a harsh reprimand he flew into a rage and beat Linos to death with his lyre. Herakles dubiously used a sort of ancient stand-your-ground law as a defense during trial and was exonerated. Poor Linos: an honest man beaten by a lyre.

5. Sophia Rasch // Suffocated While a Piano Muffled her Screams

Pixabay, Pexels

No one better proves George Bernard Shaw’s quip that “hell is full of musical amateurs” than Susannah Koczula. “I have seen Susannah trying to play the piano several times—she could not play,” 10-year-old Carl Rasch testified at Koczula’s 1894 trial. Susannah, the Rasch’s caregiver, distracted little Carl, sister Clara, and their neighborhood friend Woolf with an impromptu performance while a gruesome scene unfolded upstairs: Koczula’s husband tied and suffocated Carl and Clara’s mother, Sophia Rasch, before making off with her jewelry. “She banged the piano,” explained Woolf. “I heard no halloaing.”

6. Marianne Kirchgessner // A Nervous Disorder Acquired Playing the Glass Armonica

According to one doctor, Ben Franklin's instrument caused "a great degree of nervous weakness."Ji-Elle, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Benjamin Franklin invented the glass harmonica, or armonica, in 1761, unleashing a deadly scourge upon the musical world. “It was forbidden in several countries by the police,” wrote music historian Karl Pohl in 1862, while Karl Leopold Röllig warned in 1787 that “It’s not just the gentle waves of air that fill the ear, but the charming vibrations and constant strain of the bowls upon the already delicate nerves of the fingers that combine to produce diseases which are terrible, maybe even fatal.” In 1808, when Marianne Kirchgessner, Europe’s premiere glass armonica virtuoso, died at the age of 39, many suspected nervousness brought on by playing the instrument.

7. Charles Ratherbee // Lung Disease Possibly Caused by Playing the Trumpet

A valve trumpet made by Elbridge G. Wright, circa 1845.Purchase, Robert Alonzo Lehman Bequest (2002), Metropolitan Museum of Art // Public Domain

One summer day in 1845, Charles Ratherbee, a trumpeter, got into a fight with Joseph Harvey, who rented space in a garden from Ratherbee and was sowing seeds where the trumpeter had planned to plant potatoes. When confronted, Harvey became upset and knocked Ratherbee to the ground with his elbow. Two weeks and five days later, Ratherbee was dead.

Harvey was arrested for Ratherbee’s death, but a doctor pinpointed another killer: An undiagnosed lung disease made worse by his musical career. “The blowing of a trumpet would decidedly increase [the disease],” the surgeon testified at Harvey’s manslaughter trial. When asked if he was “in a fit state to blow a trumpet” the surgeon replied bluntly, “No.” Harvey was acquitted and given a suspended sentence for assault. The trumpet was never charged.