Sonny Bono Net Worth (Updated 2024)

What was Sonny Bono’s Net Worth?

Sonny Bono, the famous American singer, actor, and politician, had a net worth of $4 million when he passed away in 1998. He’s best known for his music partnership with his second wife, Cher, in the iconic duo Sonny & Cher. Bono was also a member of the Republican Party and served as the 16th mayor of Palm Springs, California, from 1988 to 1992. He later represented California’s 44th district in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 until his death in 1998.

In tribute to Sonny Bono, a law called the United States Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 was named after him. This law added 20 years to the duration of copyright protection. Notably, his widow, Mary Bono, played a role in sponsoring this legislation, commonly known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act.

Here’s the breakdown of his net worth:


Sonny Bono

Net Worth:

$4 Million

Date of Birth:

Feb 16, 1935 – Jan 5, 1998


$300K Per Year

Source of Wealth:

Record producer, Politician, Singer, Songwriter, Actor, Musician, Film Score Composer

Sonny Bono Net Worth

Learn more: richest singers in the world

Early Life

Sonny Bono was born in Detroit to parents with Italian roots, Zena “Jean” and Santo Bono. His mother nicknamed him “Sono,” which eventually became “Sonny.” He was the youngest of three, having two sisters, Fran and Betty.

The family moved to Inglewood, California, when Sonny was seven, but his parents divorced soon after. From a young age, Sonny was interested in music, writing songs in his teens. At 16, he wrote “Koko Joe,” which was recorded by Don and Dewey in 1958 and later covered by others, including The Righteous Brothers.

Sonny attended Inglewood High School but didn’t graduate, choosing instead to pursue music. To support himself, he did various jobs like waiting tables, driving trucks, construction, and working in a butcher’s shop. These early experiences helped him in his path to becoming a successful songwriter and performer.


Entertainment Career

Sonny Bono’s journey in the music industry began as a songwriter at Specialty Records. His song “Things You Do to Me” was recorded by Sam Cooke. He also worked with Phil Spector in the early 1960s, taking on various roles, including promotion and percussion. One of his early collaborations, “Needles and Pins,” was co-written with Jack Nitzsche.

In 1965, Sonny and his wife Cher formed the successful singing duo Sonny & Cher. They had hits like “I Got You Babe” and “The Beat Goes On.” Sonny also contributed to Cher’s solo career with songs like “Bang Bang” and “You Better Sit Down Kids.”

He co-wrote “She Said Yeah,” covered by The Rolling Stones in 1965. As a solo artist, Sonny had a hit with “Laugh at Me” reaching No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 and “The Revolution Kind” at No. 70 in 1965. He released a solo album, “Inner Views,” in 1967.

Sonny and Cher starred in “The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour” on CBS from 1971 to 1974 and later “The Sonny Comedy Revue” in 1974. They even reunited for “The Sonny and Cher Show” from 1976 to 1977. Their last performance together was on “Late Night with David Letterman” in 1987.

In 2011, Sonny Bono was inducted into the Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame for his musical contributions.

Film and Television

Sonny Bono’s career also included roles in film and television. He made guest appearances on TV shows like “The Man From U.N.C.L.E.,” “Fantasy Island,” “Charlie’s Angels,” “The Love Boat,” “The Six Million Dollar Man,” and “CHiPs.” In 1975, he played a rock star in the TV movie “Murder on Flight 502.” Bono appeared in the 1980 miniseries “Top of the Hill,” and in “Airplane II: The Sequel” (1982) as Joe Selucci. He also had a role in “Troll” (1986) and played Franklin von Tussle in “Hairspray” (1988).

Sonny made several TV appearances as the Mayor of Palm Springs, a role he actually held, in “P.S. I Luv U” (1991–92) and “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” (1993). He had a cameo in the movie “First Kid” (1996) and was even depicted in a VeggieTales episode.

In “The Golden Girls” episode “Mrs. George Devereaux” (1990), Bono played himself, competing for Dorothy’s affection in a dream sequence. In this episode, he used his position as Mayor to have Lyle Waggoner arrested and pursued a romance with Dorothy, with Sophia supporting their relationship.

Political Career

Sonny Bono entered politics after facing bureaucratic hurdles while trying to open a restaurant in Palm Springs, California. He became mayor of Palm Springs from 1988 to 1992. As mayor, he helped establish the Palm Springs International Film Festival.

In 1992, Bono ran for the U.S. Senate as a Republican but lost the nomination. He became friends with the winning candidate, Bruce Herschensohn, who was later defeated by Democrat Barbara Boxer. In 1994, Bono was elected to Congress, representing California’s 44th district, after initially planning to run for lieutenant governor. He won re-election in 1996 and served until his death in 1998.

While in Congress, Bono co-sponsored a bill to extend copyright, which later became known as the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act, also humorously called the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act.” He advocated for the restoration of the Salton Sea and brought national attention to this environmental issue.

Bono was recognized in the book “Tell Newt to Shut Up” for identifying Newt Gingrich’s public relations challenges in 1995. Drawing from his celebrity experience, Bono noted Gingrich’s transformation into a celebrity figure and the need for careful media handling.

A notable aspect of Bono’s career is that he is the only Congress member to have had a number-one pop single on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart.

Personal Life


Sonny Bono’s personal life included four marriages:

  1. First Marriage: He married Donna Rankin on November 3, 1954. Together, they had a daughter, Christine (“Christy”), born on June 24, 1958. Their marriage ended in divorce in 1962.

  2. Second Marriage: In 1964, Sonny married Cherilyn Sarkisian, later known as Cher. They had a daughter, Chastity (now Chaz), born on March 4, 1969. The couple divorced in 1975.

  3. Third Marriage: Sonny married Susie Coelho, an actress and model, on New Year’s Eve in 1981. This marriage ended in divorce in 1984.

  4. Fourth Marriage: His final marriage was to Mary Whitaker in 1986. They had two children: a son, Chesare Elan, born in 1988, and a daughter, Chianna Maria, born in 1991.


Sonny Bono was the godparent to Anthony Kiedis, a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, because of his close friendship with Anthony’s father, Blackie Dammett.

Salton Sea

Sonny Bono was a strong supporter of the Salton Sea in California. To honor his efforts, a park was named after him. The 2005 documentary “Plagues & Pleasures on the Salton Sea,” narrated by John Waters, featured him and highlighted the Salton Sea’s environmental issues and the lives of local residents.


Sonny Bono explored Scientology and took some of its courses, but he officially remained a Roman Catholic, as shown in his documents and campaign materials. His wife Mary also studied Scientology. After Sonny’s death, Mary mentioned that he had tried to step back from the Church of Scientology, but found it difficult. The Church, however, denied any rift with Sonny.


Sonny Bono tragically lost his life in a skiing accident on January 5, 1998, at Heavenly Mountain Resort in South Lake Tahoe, California. He collided with a tree while skiing, which resulted in fatal injuries.

Cher, at the request of Sonny’s wife Mary, delivered a heartfelt eulogy at his funeral. Sonny was laid to rest at Desert Memorial Park in Cathedral City, California. His headstone bears the poignant epitaph “AND THE BEAT GOES ON,” symbolizing his lasting impact on the music world.

After Sonny’s death, Mary Bono took over his congressional position, completing his term. She continued to be elected independently for seven more terms before facing defeat in the 2012 election.

Honors and Tributes

Sonny Bono’s contributions have been honored and celebrated in various ways:

  1. Golden Palm Star: In 1996, he received a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars, recognizing his significant contributions.

  2. Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act: Effective on October 27, 1998, this legislation extended copyright protections for creative works.

  3. Sonny Bono Salton Sea National Wildlife Refuge: In 1998, a nature reserve at the Salton Sea was renamed in his honor, acknowledging his commitment to environmental causes.

  4. Sonny Bono Memorial Park: Located in Washington, D.C., this small park was dedicated in his honor in 1998, serving as a reminder of his lasting impact.

  5. Sonny Bono Memorial Interchange: Named after Sonny Bono, this interchange can be found on California State Route 60 at Nason Street in Moreno Valley, California. It was dedicated in September 2000.

  6. Sonny Bono Memorial Freeway: Stretching over 40 miles along Interstate 10 near Palm Springs, this freeway was dedicated on January 10, 2002, in honor of his enduring legacy.

  7. Sonny Bono Concourse: Located at Palm Springs International Airport, this concourse was dedicated on October 22, 2002, as a lasting tribute to Sonny Bono.

  8. Sonny Bono Memorial Fountain and Statue: Situated in downtown Palm Springs, California, this statue and fountain were dedicated in November 2002, serving as a heartfelt reminder of his contributions to the community and beyond.

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