.

Sonny Bono Dead At 62

January 7, 1998 12:00 AM ET

Entertainer turned congressman Sonny Bono was found dead Monday night.

Bono died after hitting a tree and suffering head injuries while skiing at Lake Tahoe's Heavenly Ski Resort on the Nevada side of the California-Nevada border. Bono was reported missing at 7 p.m. local time and his body was found approximately two hours later.

Born to Sicilian immigrants in 1935, Bono became a public figure when he and Phil Spector background singer Cherilyn LaPiere Sarkisian married in 1964 and formed the duo, Sonny and Cher. Over the next 10 years, the two produced several hits, including "Baby Don't Go," "I Got You Babe" and "All I Ever Need Is You."

The two split up in 1974, and Cher went on to build a lucrative entertainment career for herself. Bono opted instead for the political arena, and was elected mayor of Palm Springs, Calif., in 1988. He went to Washington in 1991 after succeeding in his second bid for the House of Representatives. Bono was re-elected in 1996.

A registered Republican, Bono often criticized the National Endowment for the Arts, but never completely eschewed his artistic roots. His defense of the television industry against efforts to introduce a voluntary content-based ratings system earned him a positive mention in the Public Enemy song "Bring the Noise."

In a statement on Tuesday morning, White House press secretary Mike McCurry said Bono was a "refreshing voice in Washington and a dedicated public servant."

Bono is survived by current wife, Mary Whitaker, ex-wife Cher, and four children, including daughter Chastity Bono. He was 62.

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