Cher’s mother, singer Georgia Holt, of ‘I Love Lucy,’ dead at 96

Cher’s mother Georgia Holt, a singer and actor, has died. She was 96.

“Mom is gone,” Cher, 76, wrote on Twitter on Saturday evening. In September, Cher shared that Holt had “been sick off & on.”

“She just got out of (hospital),” the singer added. “She had pneumonia. She’s getting better.” Cher gave no other details Saturday, including a cause or exact date of death.

USA TODAY has reached out to a representative of Cher for further details.

In 2013, Holt was the subject of an hourlong Lifetime documentary, “Dear Mom, Love Cher,” which explored the family’s history in interviews with the matriarch, daughters Cher and Georganne LaPiere and Cher’s kids, Chaz Bono and Elijah Blue Allman, known professionally. as P. Exeter Blue.

“It’s a good Mother’s Day special, but it’s not Hallmark,” Cher said of the documentary at the time.

The project began when Holt discovered tapes of a never-released album she recorded in 1980 with Elvis Presley’s band. Determined to help Holt reach an unrealized goal, Cher had the tapes remastered, then filmed her mother singing and chatting. It resulted in a 16-minute video that turned out to be a “little present for her 86th birthday.” It then grew into a more revealing look back at an unorthodox clan.

The singer-songwriter, actor, producer and model was best known for her roles in 1955’s “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet,” as well as 1956’s “I Love Lucy” and “Jane Wyman Presents the Fireside Theatre.” She also starred in films including 1950’s “Watch the Birdie” and “A Life of Her Own,” 1951’s “Father’s Little Dividend” and “Grounds for Marriage” and 1952’s “Lovely to Look At.”

In 2013, Holt released her debut album “Honky Tonk Woman,” which she recorded in the ’80s.

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Holt was born on June 9, 1926, in rural Arkansas to 13-year-old Lynda Inez Gulley and 20-year-old Roy Malloy Crouch. First trying her hand at performing, Holt sang in Oklahoma saloons, and later sought fame in Hollywood as a singer and actress.

She was a multifaceted and complicated woman, too.

After marrying a truck driver by the name of John Sarkisian, Holt considered having an abortion. The two divorced soon after Cher’s birth. Struggling financially, Holt briefly placed Cher in a Catholic orphanage, where nuns urged her to give up the baby for adoption.

“I heard the abortion story when I was a teenager,” Cher said in “Dear Mom” ​​in 2013. “The orphanage story has been a touchy one for my mom her whole life, and she didn’t want to talk about it. I said, ‘Mom, why didn’t you just march in and take me?’ She said, ‘I didn’t have the power. I didn’t have any money or a job, and the church was so strong. I’d go see you every day and you’d be crying. You don’t know what it was like.’ It was harder for women then.”

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Holt was previously married to Gilbert Hartmann LaPiere, Hamilton Tatum Holt Jr., John Paul Sarkisian, Joseph Harper Collins, Eunice John Southall and Chris Alcaide.

She is survived by daughters Cher and Georganne LaPiere, and grandchildren Chaz Bono and Elijah Blue Allman.

In 2020, Cher opened up to People about being “very careful” around her mother due to COVID-19. “We have a little bubble that we’ve had all this time,” the singer added. “We wear masks, and there’s not very many of us. It’s my sister, my brother-in-law, my mom, my assistant. And we stay far apart from each other.”

Fellow celebrity friends and public figures paid their condolences to Cher on social media. “So sorry for your loss, my friend,” Hillary Clinton wrote to the singer. “Sending you all the (love) in the world.”

Marlee Matlin wrote: “Sending love to you Cher.”

“Sending so much love my dear,” wrote the Welsh drag queen The Vivienne to Cher. “She had an amazing life, gave the world so much, she gave us you! Thinking of you and all your family today.”

“The Brady Bunch” actor Maureen McCormick wrote: “The love you and your mom shared was so beautiful and touching.”

Contributing: Edna Gundersen, USA TODAY

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