Cher was born in El Centro, California in 1946. Her mother, Georgia Holt, was a model, singer, and actress, and her father was a truck driver. They divorced when Cher was a baby and her family life was unstable. As the singer said The Guardian, she didn’t meet her father until she was 11 and that he “had larceny in him. He had a criminal past”. Her mother did her best to support her, but struggled. The Guardian reported that she sometimes hit her daughter, and Biography noted that she had to temporarily place Cher in an orphanage while trying to make ends meet.
Cher also struggled with dyslexia as a child. In her autobiography, “The First Time,” she wrote, “I couldn’t read fast enough to do all my homework and for me, math was like trying to understand Sanskrit” (via Heard). When she told her mom that she couldn’t even make out numbers, her mom replied, “When you grow up, you’re gonna have someone else do numbers for you” (per The Guardian).
But Cher had plans for herself: she wanted to be a star. “I decided I just wanted to be famous – maybe not with a specific talent, like Judy Garland or Dorothy McGuire, but as a personality“, she wrote in her autobiography (via The ring).