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Cher details '80s romance with Val Kilmer: 'We had unbelievable times'

·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·3-min read
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Cher has nothing but happy memories from her time dating Val Kilmer — and says she still loves him.

A couple in the early '80s, much was made of their age difference — she's 14 years his senior — but they still fell "madly in love," she told People magazine. Despite having "unbelievable times" together they parted ways romantically, but their friendship has endured, especially during his throat cancer battle when he moved in with her.

Cher and actor Val Kilmer attend the 36th Annual Tony Awards After Party on June 6, 1982 at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City. (Photo by Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty Images)
Cher and Val Kilmer at a Tony Awards afterparty in 1982. (Photo: Walter McBride/Corbis via Getty Images)

"He's like nobody I've ever known," Cher said. "He is exasperating and hysterical. Thrilling and funny, and doesn't do what anyone else does." All these years later, "I don't know how we stayed friends, we just did. We didn't try. We just were."

Cher shared their couple nicknames: He was "Sid" to her "Ethel." They also called themselves Valus Maximus and Cherus Reprimandus, noting, "It was just kind of who I was in the household. Of course he was Maximus, come on."

They met at her birthday party. A friend brought the future Top Gun hunk along thinking he'd be a match for someone. They developed a friendship and had platonic sleepovers — then dropped the platonic part.

American actors Cher and Val Kilmer arrive at the 56th Academy Awards, where Cher is nominated for Best Supporting Actress in Silkwood. (Photo by Bill Nation/Sygma via Getty Images)
Cher and Val Kilmer arrive at the 56th Academy Awards, where Cher is nominated for Best Supporting Actress in Silkwood. (Photo: Bill Nation/Sygma via Getty Images)

"He was so young. Was he 22? What was I? I don't know," she said of the age gap. "Thirty-something. It was a bigger deal back then. The truth was if I hadn't gone out with younger men, I would have never had a date. Younger men weren't intimidated by older women. But older men in my age category, they weren't having it."

She said he was great with her kids. She recalled having more fun with him at home than going out. They shared a mutual sense of humor. He helped her screen test for Mask and gave her confidence in her work.

"What we would put up with from one another was more than I think I've ever had with any other guy," said Cher, who had previously been married to Gregg Allman and Sonny Bono. "He would just go off and do his own thing and you just had to be prepared. And he was so beautiful."

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Though they'd also butt heads.

"We had unbelievable times and then put up with some times when they weren't [that way] because we were both Alpha males. We were both individuals and neither of us was going to give up on that," she admitted.

Kilmer, who was married to his Willow costar Joanne Whalley from 1988 to 1996, was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2015. Cher had him move into her guest house as his health worsened. 

"He was brave the whole time," she said. "I saw how sick he was," including when paramedics came to take him to the hospital because he was spitting up blood. Kilmer underwent radiation and chemotherapy and had a tracheotomy, which permanently damaged his speaking voice. He now has his meals through a feeding tube. 

The new Amazon original documentary Val — which he produced with his son Jack, 26, and his daughter Mercedes, 29 —looks at his life and cancer journey, and Cher called it "brave." She also said he's "creative like nobody I've ever known. He's an artist. He can be a brat too but you forgive him. You forgive him everything. Even when I was angry, it was still a joy. If he called, it wouldn't matter where I was, I would go."

Cher sent him a note after seeing the film. It was addressed to Sid from Ethel.

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