Her Top 40 hits and TV series with then-husband Sonny Bono in the 1960s and 1970s made Cher a pop culture icon before she ever hit the silver screen. Her struggle to be taken seriously as an actress while not sacrificing any of the campy flamboyance she displayed in her singing career has provided consistent fodder for the entertainment media. She first surprised doubters with a credible turn in a "small" picture, Robert Altman's Come Back to the 5 and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean (1982). She had appeared in three films before that, including the William Friedkin-directed Good Times (1967, with Sonny). She was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award for a strong performance as title character Meryl Streep's unglamorous, hardheaded lesbian roommate in Silkwood (1983), her first prestige production. Cher's clashes with director Peter Bogdanovich on the set of her next picture, the I-was-ateenage-Elephant-Man tearjerker Mask (1985, which earned her a shared Best Actress award at Cannes), along with her general outspokenness, penchant for tattoos, and exhibitionistic fashion sense ignited a media myth she appeared to resent even as she stoked its fires.
The Oscar that she coveted did not elude her for long; she won the 1987 Best Actress Academy Award for her performance in Moonstruck a romantic comedy centering around some eccentric Brooklyn Italians. She was also featured with two other major female stars, Susan Sarandon and Michelle Pfeiffer, in 1987's desultory The Witches of Eastwick after taking time from films to pick up the slack of her increasingly irrelevant but still fairly lucrative singing career, she made Mermaids (1990), during the shooting of which her displeasure with original director Frank Oz led to his being replaced by Richard Benjamin. Cher was inactive on screen for several years, focusing instead on hugely successful exercise videos and infomercials. After cameos (as herself) in the Robert Altman films The Player (1992) and Ready to Wear/Prąt-ź-Porter (1994), she returned as a hit man's target in Faithful (1995).