"Other arms reach out to me; Other eyes smile tenderly; Still in peaceful dreams I see'
The road leads back to you..." Lyrics to Georgia -- Ray Charles
Every day is Mother's Day to Cher -- and sister Georganne LaPiere. Their beautiful 86-year-old mom, Georgia Holt, knows a little something about being a loving mother, caring for her two daughters between eight marriages -- and standing alone, quite often, as a single parent during their childhood. With everything on her plate throughout her adult life, Georgia had her priorities in order: caring for her two children with unconditional love that has never wavered.
Cue Dear Mom, Love Cher a television special -- the definitive Mother's Day gift -- that originally aired on the Lifetime network, Monday, May 6, which took us into the private life of Georgia and her intimate family circle. And this family circle has some dynamite dynamics. If you love Cher, you'll love her mother -- for giving Cher life, when she contemplated abortion; for keeping her wits about her as she struggled to make ends meet; for having a second daughter, Georganne, and holding on to her dignity as she managed to keep the faith during more divorce drama; and for keeping her head up when her chance of superstardom alluded her as a young aspiring actress/singer. The Huffington Post was on Mother's Day watch, and set up a phone interview with one sweet mama -- Georgia Holt. As Cher and Georganne will be quick to tell you: The road leads back to... Mom.
The phone rings. Georgia Holt is on the other end of the line with a surprise guest.
Hi. Is this Cher?
Hi there, what a pleasure!
Cher: (Laughs) I'm on the phone to protect my mother.
Listen, Cher, I totally get it. I don't blame you! (LOL)
Before I start with the questions, I want to tell you, Georgia, that you are the most gorgeous 86-year-old woman I've ever seen in my life. What's your secret?
Georgia: I wouldn't know what to say, honey. Cher's make-up man, Leonard, does an awful lot. (Laughs)
Georgia, I actually watched Dear Mom, Love Cher twice, and I was just blown away by it. If there's a Mother's Hall of Fame, your name needs to go on top of that plaque.
Georgia: That's very sweet of you.
As you and Cher know, being a mother is the hardest job in the world. You had quite the ride there being divorced so many times and trying to make ends meet as a single mother. What was the hardest part of that journey for you raising your girls?
Georgia: I think probably having to go off and work and leave them alone to get to school. I had their lunches fixed and everything ready for their breakfast but sometimes I would have to leave before they left for school. That was real hard. I worried about them. I was real strict. Then sometimes I wouldn't get home until they got out of school, and I would say, 'You can only play out until it gets dusk and then you've got to come in.'
There was a lot of fun too. There's a lot of things that you can do where you don't have to have a lot of money. Going to the drive-in, which cost a dollar, and we would make food to take with us to the drive-in. That was a big thrill. On their birthdays, we had two trees in the front yard, and I'd hang suckers from one tree and balloons on the other. We would invite all the kids from the neighborhood. They had fun, I know they did. (Laughs)
I was particularly touched when you said you almost had an abortion when you were pregnant with Cher but you couldn't go through with it. It's hard to go into a clinic and be faced with that choice. How hard was that for you in that moment?
Georgia: I tell you. There are no words. My mother wanted me to [have the abortion] because I didn't want to stay married, but obviously I couldn't do it. I remember when the door opened... and I couldn't do it. And thank God I didn't.
Thank God! What a beautiful child you had with Cher! And your other daughter, Georganne, came along five years later. Two blessings! When your girls were growing up and they suffered from little heartbreaks that we all have with boyfriends, or trouble in school, how did you guide them?
Georgia: I think Cher said it on the special. I was real hard on them on the little things, and on the big things, where it was something serious, I was very understanding.
When Cher accepted her Academy Award, she said, 'When I was little, my mother said I want you to be something.' Did you want your dreams to become her dreams?
Georgia: No, when I was little, my father used to say to me, 'I want you to be somebody.' I started telling her the same thing: 'Honey, I want you to be somebody.' I didn't necessarily mean show business particularly. This was when she was a child and a young teenager. I said I want you to be somebody because if you come from the life that I had come from, the goal is to be somebody.
It's interesting how life takes us in different directions. When you told the story about losing out the role in The Asphalt Jungle to Marilyn Monroe, your life took a different turn then. Did you ever look back and think what would have happened if you had gotten that role instead of Marilyn?
Georgia: No, honey, I thought I was blessed that I didn't get it because I could never have been strong enough to have withstood all the things that you have to go through to be a star. I watched Marilyn, and I thought, 'Thank God I didn't get that part.' Not that I was as pretty or as talented as she was, but I was really happy that I didn't get it. At first I was disappointed but then afterwards, as I watched her career, I thought I was really lucky that I didn't get it.
You got married when you were 17, and Cher left home at 17 to go live with Sonny. That was kind of parallel milestones for the two of you.
Georgia: That's true, except I didn't know that that's why she left home. (Laughs) I thought she was living with a stewardess.
But that worked out well though. Nice career move.
Georganne was an actress so your daughters' careers took different paths. Cher became a superstar and Georganne did a lot of acting, but was it hard on the girls, one being a superstar and one not so much?
Georgia: I don't think so, no. Georganne is extremely proud of her sister but it takes a lot of energy to be a star. It's just a tremendous amount of energy that you put forth to be a star, besides having the talent to do all the things that you have to do. She didn't care as much for show business. She had a lot of little shows in the beginning. She worked on General Hospital for over two years.
Cher: You know, my sister just didn't like show business truthfully. My sister is an avid reader. My sister is the scholar in our family. She just didn't want to put up with show business. As she became more popular on General Hospital, that's when she quit because she just didn't feel like investing the time. My sister and I are so completely different.
You two are very close, right?
Cher: Oh, yeah, we're unbelievably close. Maybe that's one of the reasons. (Laughs) We've always been close because I was always kind of like the mother. Like mom said, she got up early at the crack of dawn and then didn't come home until late so I was kind of the one holding down the ship for her. My sister was kind of like half-sister, half child.
In the special, I was so moved by the obvious close relationship that the three of you have. It's such a blessing to be that close to your mother, isn't it Cher?
Cher: You know what? It seems like a no-brainer, but until I started working on this special, I didn't really realize... I mean, I'd be on Twitter telling all the kids what I was doing and then so many of them would say, 'Oh, I lost my mother, and you're so lucky.' I guess I just never thought about that... I had my grandmother until just recently so it just didn't occur to me how lucky you are to still have your mom.
It was so endearing to watch the three of you interact. I got tickled because sometimes your mom would start to tell a story and you and your sister would kind of interject things.
Cher: (Laughs) We always do! It's almost impossible for mom to get through anything if she and I are around. And the three of us are telling a story and we're all three interrupting.
Georgia, you seem like you're a very mellow, calm person.
Georgia: I think I was more on the edge when I was younger when I was trying to get them raised. I think I've mellowed out with the years. I was married a lot but I didn't stay married very long because I didn't seem to be able to choose somebody that was a stable man. When I was younger I was more worried about them, worried about me not being there, being at work, but I had to work because I had to pay the bills. I've become more mellow. I know I have. I think Cher would say that I have.
Was it hard on your girls when you were going through your divorces, and how did you protect them emotionally?
Georgia: Because I was married such a short time most of the time... I think Georganne's father was closer to the girls than any of the other people that I married.
Cher: Actually I didn't really meet my father until I was 11. When I think of father, I think of my sister's father but my mom and my dad - my sister's father - got divorced when my sister was teeny. She doesn't really remember him. We were talking about that the other day. She was three so I think that was the biggest trauma for me. But, we were pretty much friends with all of my mother's husbands, and my mother was friends with them too so it wasn't as traumatic as you might think. They stayed friends so it wasn't some horrible breakup.
Georgia: That's true. It wasn't like I read in the rag sheets. It was nothing like that. We actually did remain friends.
When you became a grandmother for the first time with Chaz, how special was that for you?
Georgia: We all just adored Chaz!
I was touched by Chaz and Elijah's comments about you.
Georgia: I was crying.
You're close to both your grandsons?
Georgia: Yes, I am.
Both your girls seem to have great integrity. What did you teach them about integrity?
Georgia: Being honorable and having integrity and being truthful was so important to me for them. I must have drilled it into their heads. I wanted them to have solid character. They do, and I'm so happy.
When you sang your song "I'm Just Your Yesterday" with Cher at the end of DMLC, tears streamed down my face. What a wonderful moment that was. In the special I think Cher said that the dream you had when you were six is now coming true when you're 86. How does it feel to have your album Honky Tonk Woman out now that you're almost 87?
Georgia: It is such a thrill. I just cried and I cried and I cried. I cried from the special, I cried from the album coming out after all these years. My father started me singing at age six.
I love your album. What a voice you have! Where can people buy it?
Cher: They can buy it anywhere. It's on iTunes, it's on Amazon. It's in record stores. I think also, when we talked about this... and we haven't talked about anything else! (Laughs) I haven't hardly had time to do my own career since I've been managing my mother! It's like insane. You'd think at 87, you wouldn't have to do that kind of stuff.
Georgia: It's true. (Laughs)
How does it feel to have your mom becoming this little superstar now, Cher?
Cher: It's amazing. My sister and I were laughing hysterically yesterday. We were saying, 'Oh, my God!... text to each other with about 50 exclamation points because we just think that it's so hysterical what's happening with mom right now. The thing that I think was really important for mom after talking about realizing her dream... she calls me 50 times a day: 'Oh, honey, I love the new master of the one song; Oh, honey'... everything with mom begins with: Oh, honey. We were talking to mom about what she thinks will happen with the special, and she said, 'What I really hope will happen is that women will know that there is no sell-by date. It doesn't make any difference how old you are, you just never have to give up dreaming. You don't have to give up dreaming because you get to be a certain age.' So I think that's amazing.
Georgia, how did it feel having Cher sing on the album with you?
Georgia: One thing that I loved, Cher said to me, 'Mother, do you realize that you have the most expensive backup singer in the world?' (Laughs) She sang backup on some of my songs. I love it!
Cher, you sound just like your mother. Your mother has a beautiful voice. Did you realize that your voice was so similar? Did she sing around the house all those years?
Cher: I remember singing and talking about the same time. I never remember not singing. My mom and I sang together all the time. When my sister was little too, we all sang but my sister didn't really have a voice that she was interested in using. My sister always had a book in her hand. So I was the one that was singing and doing plays, putting on plays in our living room, and my sister was always behind the couch reading. I would force my sister to act in my plays. I would grab her and force her to do it. I would twist her arm until she would play all the parts I wanted her to do so we were both kind of feisty kids. Mom had her hands full, that's for sure.
When you were first starting out in your career, did you ask your mother for career advice or not so much?
Cher: Mom was pretty good about being there but without being really hands on. If you kind of wanted a shoulder to cry on or if you wanted to go and complain, mom was pretty good about doing it, but she didn't really give you... I mean she would give you advice if you asked her for it, but also, the three of us are so stubborn that we're pretty much going to go until we fall down and usually when one of us falls down, then they reach out to the other one.
Georgia: That's true.
Cher, I've been reading your tweets, and you said in a recent tweet that you love your mom but there's no way you'll let her get a Twitter account and start tweeting by herself.
Cher: Absolutely not! (Big Laugh) Because my mom doesn't exactly have the grasp of the gigantic effect that this new media has and also, if you ask my mom something and she would get comfortable, all of a sudden she would forget that everybody in the universe will see it. If a kid asked something, my mom would just tell them. I said if my mom got on Twitter, I'd have to pack a bag and leave the universe.
Check Lifetime for the repeat schedule of Dear Mom, Love Cher. This is truly "Must See" TV!
To listen to cuts from "Honky Tonk Woman" and/or to buy the album, go to: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/georgiaholt