Santa Clarita Valley History In Pictures

Sonny & Cher Bono's Placerita Canyon Property
Placerita Canyon

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Assessor's map of parcel 2848-009-027 as of 2013. Click map to enlarge.

Assessor's map showing 86-acre parcel belonging in the 1970s to Cher — great-granddaughter of homesteader Frank Walker — and her husband, Sonny Bono.

Map recorded in Los Angeles County Assessor Map Book 2848 Page 9, showing parcels just east of the intersection of Placerita Canyon Road and Running Horse Road (the curve in the road to the east of the main entrance to the Placerita Canyon Nature Center). The map was obtained by local historian Ron Kraus from Walker family members Tom and Mary Salter, who may have been responsible for identifying the owners of the parcels shown.

Parcel 27 is identified at center-right in the map above as the property of "Bono, Salvatore P. & Cher" — otherwise known as the singing comedy team of Sonny — Cher.

Kathy M. remembers (2017): "I worked at the Vons on Sand Canyon at Soledad for decades. Cher's grandmother Lynda Walker shopped there and was a sweet lady. Many times, she had a young Elijah Blue with her." Elijah Blue Allman, aka P. Exeter Blue, was born July 10, 1976, to Cher and second husband Gregg Allman.

Penny Upton remembers (2020): "I remember when Cher was first in People magazine her grandmother came into Thrifty's at Soledad Cyn and Sand Cyn (now Rite Aid) and bought every copy. She said loudly, 'That's my granddaughter!'"

Cher was born Cheryl (Cherilyn) Sarkisian on May 20, 1946, in El Centro, but she grew up in the San Fernando Valley with her mother, Georgia Pelham (aka Georgia Holt, aka Jackie Jean Crouch), who was a waitress, model and part-time actress. Cher's father was an Armenian truck driver named John Sarkisian (alternately Sarkasian). Her parents divorced when Cher was a toddler; they would remarry and divorce two more times. Georgia/Jackie married a total of eight times, once to actor John Southall, whom Cher considered a father figure.

In her biography, "The First Time: Cher as told to Jeff Coplon" (Simon & Schuster, 1998), Cher — which was always her nickname — says she stayed with one of her two grandmothers whenever her mother was working. Cher's maternal grandmother was Lynda Walker, who lived in Placerita Canyon with husband Charles Walker on property they received from Charles' father, Frank Walker. (It's likely that Cher either inherited or was gifted the parcel in this photo.)

In the book, Cher briefly recounts her childhood memories of the Walker Ranch in Placerita Canyon, and she recalls her first unfortunate encounter with venison:

"Grandma Lynda, my mother's mother, would sometimes get embarrassed by my Grandpa Charlie [Walker], who was a sweet man but absolutely unsophisticated. Grandpa Charlie had grown up with twelve brothers and sisters in a log cabin in Placerita Canyon, eighty miles or so outside of Los Angeles [it's more like 35 miles], where all the Westerns were filmed. He developed recipes for the Johnson Pie Company, and sometimes he'd bring his work home. 'If you can eat it all, it's all yours,' he once told me, setting down a chocolate cream pie. I ate the whole thing in one sitting and have never tasted anything like it since.

"Grandpa Charlie's father, who I called Papa Walker [Frank Walker], still lived by himself in the cabin he'd built. He'd bought an expensive trailer, but he didn't like staying there, so he stored feed in it. Papa was a burly, red-cheeked outdoorsman who wore flannel shirts and one-piece long johns underneath. He'd feed the local deer, and when I came to visit I would watch them through the window of the cabin, just a few feet away. My grandmother told me that the cabin was Santa's house, and that these were his reindeer.

"One day I went out to Grandpa Charlie's backyard and saw one of my reindeer hung on a hook off a tree. My grandfather had grown up hunting for venison, and he'd gotten a yen for some. I was just completely and utterly appalled. Grandma Lynda tried to explain it to me, but I wasn't going for any of that 'Now, Cher, all deer aren't Bambi' crap."

Sonny and Cher in 1973. He was 5-foot-5. She was 5-foot-9. Thus the uncomfortable pose. Click to enlarge.

The map indicates that Sonny and Cher's property taxes were delinquent in 1977. They probably had other things on their minds, and they weren't the greatest managers of money or relationships at the time anyway. The IRS had come calling in 1969 for more than $200,000 in back taxes. They had divorced June 26, 1975, and Cher married rocker Gregg Allman. Sonny (born Salvatore Philip Bono on Feb. 16, 1935, in Detroit) and Cher got back together professionally in 1976 and Cher divorced Allman in 1977, but the old comedy act was in turmoil and would soon end for good. (Memories of their union were rekindled in 2010 when their daughter, Chastity Sun Bono, b. March 4, 1969, became Chaz Salvatore Bono, a boy.)

As for his life after Cher — and after the failure of his West Hollywood restaurant in 1983 and the end of his unhappy marriage to Susie Coelho in 1984 — things seemed to be picking up for Sonny. In 1986 he married a woman half his age, the former Mary Whitaker. Sonny, a Republican, lost a U.S. Senate race in 1992, but came back in 1994 to win a House seat representing Palm Springs. Mary succeeded him in Congress after his accidental death.

Cher achieved some of her greatest critical acclaim after splitting from Sonny, with one movie blockbuster after another — "Silkwood" (1983), "Mask" (1985), "The Witches of Eastwick" (1987) "Suspect" (1987) and "Moonstruck" (1987), for which she won the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Current (2013) assessor records show the ex-Bono parcel consists of three undeveloped lots totaling 86.17 acres. As seen on both maps displayed here, Lot 5 at the west is 14.42 acres; Lot 6 in the middle is 24.17; and Lot 4 on the right is 47.58 ares. The property had an assessed valuation of $72,766 in 2012. The most recent deed was recorded Jan. 5, 1998. It does not have a street address.

Today the property is bordered on the north by the city of Santa Clarita's Golden Valley Open Space. As of 2013, the city is in the process of purchasing the 44.08-acre parcel immediately to the west (2848-036-008), which is in tax default, to be preserved as open space.

RK7701: 9600 dpi jpeg

• Walker Family
Cher with Grandma Lynda Walker, Placerita Canyon

Magic Mountain 1971

Placerita Property 1977

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