Cher Thought Her Head “Would Shoot Right Off” When She Kissed Val Kilmer
#TBT: Check in every Thursday as we throw it back to some of our favorite celebrity couples of all time.
Who: Grammy-winning singer and Oscar-winning actress Cher, 73, and actor Val Kilmer, 60.
How They Met: In his recent memoir, I’m Your Huckleberry, Kilmer wrote that he met Cher in 1981. He was eating at a Manhattan restaurant when a “lady friend” told him the singer-cum-actress was interested in meeting him. Initially, the then-aspiring actor was not eager to pursue the match. “Her name shocked me to the point that I spit out my spaghetti while exclaiming, ‘No!’” he wrote. “I saw Cher as a less-than-fascinating character out of the gossip rags. I was not motivated to meet her, not out of snobbery but simply because I was sure we had nothing in common.”
Of course, Kilmer was proven wrong. It’s unclear, however, if this account matches up with the actor’s timeline. People reported that he and Cher met at a birthday party for the Moonstruck star, thrown by none other than Meryl Streep (is she the “lady friend” Kilmer references??).
Why We Loved Them: By Cher’s own account, the issue with her and Kilmer’s relationship was that it was “too intense and hot.” Seriously. By the time she was asked about it, she had been married and divorced twice and shared public relationships with other A-listers including Gene Simmons and David Geffen. Still, she said that her relationship with Kilmer came “the closest to working.” She also noted that the actor was “sensitive, artistic,” had a sense of humor, and was “a great kisser.” Cher told People that she and Kilmer didn’t rush their first kiss — but when they did ultimately lock lips, “I thought my head would shoot right off my body. I had to catch my breath,” she told them. A good kisser was (and presumably still is) a must for Cher in any relationship: “My rule of thumb, and it’s never failed me, is if a man’s a good kisser he’s a great f—.”
Kilmer also scored major points with Cher’s son, Elijah Blue Allman, who later told VH1’s Behind the Music that the actor was his favorite boyfriend of his mom’s growing up. “He gave me a human scalp for my birthday, and from then on, I just loved him.” Ah, the classic human scalp bribe … (?!?!?)
When They Peaked: Decades later, it’s Cher and Kilmer’s enduring friendship that we stan. They continued to support each other through the years, in matters both personal and professional.
When Kilmer was first diagnosed with throat cancer around 2015, he came to live in the Oscar-winner’s guest house. In his memoir, Kilmer recalled a particularly scary night from this period where he woke up vomiting blood. “Cher stepped in and stepped up,” he wrote. “And yet even in my grave condition, I saw her scanning the paramedic, who was Gregory Peck drop-dead handsome,” he added. “Despite the fact that I was covered in blood, I caught her eye and bounced my brows like Groucho Marx. Hubba hubba. Cher was bashful to be busted but then couldn’t help laughing out loud at the audacity.” Never change, Cher.
In 2013, during a fan Q&A, Cher named Kilmer (and Streep) as the most inspiring artist she’d ever worked with. “I once did an audition with Val for a playhouse we wanted to be a part of, and while we were doing this scene I forgot what I was doing and just stopped and watched him,” she said.
The Breakup: By 1985, Cher had reportedly moved on … With Kilmer’s former agent, Joshua Donen. Though that sentence may spell S-C-A-N-D-A-L, there don’t appear to have been any bruised egos involved. In fact, neither Cher nor Kilmer seem able to pinpoint exactly why their own relationship ended. “If I could describe our breakup, I would. But I can’t because it never really happened, at least not formally,” Kilmer wrote in his memoir. “She never said, ‘Val, I’m through with you,’ and I never said, ‘That’s it Cher. We’re history.’”
Well, according to Cher things tended a bit closer to the latter statement. In 1990 she clarified to Vanity Fair that it was Kilmer who ended things (“Val left me”), noting that both he and another one of her exes, Rob Camilletti, were “really young, and they were both looking for their own identity, and I’m a big shadow.” She added that she often dates men who “aren’t much impressed with my lifestyle,” telling the outlet, “I always pick men who are more work-ethic sorts. I like straight men.”
Where They Are Now:
Cher went on to date Kilmer’s Top Gun co-star Tom Cruise, Richie Sambora, Hell’s Angel Tim Medvetz, and screenwriter Ron Zimmerman.
The singer’s latest Las Vegas residency is planned to commence to July.
Kilmer wed actress Joanne Whalley in 1988. After their 1996 split he went on to date Cindy Crawford and Angelina Jolie. In his memoir, he claims he’s been single for 20 years.
The actor has confirmed that he will appear in the Top Gun sequel (Top Gun: Maverick) out this December.