As I mentioned yesterday, I have yet to see Val Kilmer’s documentary Val. (I’m only waiting because my husband wants to watch it together.) The current issue of People covers the actor’s life and his decision to do the doc as well as the people and events that shaped him. One of those people is Cher. Val and Cher dated for two years in the early 80s. Val was 22 and Cher was 36. What I didn’t know is they’ve remained friends ever since. Many of those who love and/or admire Val contributed to the People story, including Cher, who wrote about her relationship with Val in her own words.
We called ourselves Sid and Ethel. Val didn’t want to yell “Cher” and I didn’t want to yell “Val.” We also called ourselves Valus Maximus and Cherus Reprimandus. It was just kind of who I was in the household. Of course he was Maximus, come on.
I met him at a birthday party my friend was having for me. She said, “I invited this guy and I think either you or my friend who’s an editor will like him.” We became friends because we laughed at the same things constantly. He would sleep over and it was just a friendship [at first.] That took a long time. Well, I guess not really a long time.
Our sense of humor, and what we would put up with from one another, was more than I think I’ve ever had with any other guy. He would just go off and do his own thing and you just had to be prepared. And he was so beautiful. It went from madly in love and laughing hysterically to respecting each other’s ability.
He was at my house a lot of the time he was sick. He was brave the whole time. I saw how sick he was. Once when the paramedics showed up after he was so sick and coughing up blood, he looked at me and I looked at him and we both knew what we were thinking. Because those guys are so handsome. When one of those paramedics comes to your house, you just know you’re going to see somebody who’s really cute.
I told him I saw the documentary (Val). I said, “Sid, it’s you.” He is so creative like nobody I’ve ever known and how brave he was to do it in the way that he did it. 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.
I loved him—and I love him. I [just wrote to him], I said, “Valus Maximus, I’m sorry if I did anything to piss you off or hurt your feelings. I love you and your documentary was all things… I love the things that pissed me off, the things that made me hysterical, amazed, hurt, astonished, etc. You are brave and beyond brilliant. Ethel.”
Cher goes into some specifics in her essay, about how Val was so good with her kids and how they spent one New Year’s Eve painting instead of going out. She also talked about how they supported each other’s acting careers, preparing for screen tests together. Cher admits that they split up because they “were both Alpha males.” She said they were individuals and unwilling to give that up. I was going to say that some of my best relationship were with fellow individuals and we just did our own thing. But Cher talked about Val wandering off without notice or explanation and yeah, I think I’d probably get fed up with that too. But they obviously recognized it before it led to animosity because they’ve maintained their friendship. So much so that Val spent time with Cher at his sickest, that’s particularly intimate.
I love the honesty of Cher’s essay. I really felt I understood their dynamic. And I don’t know why, but I’m pleased to know they’ve stayed in each other’s lives. I’m slightly saddened that Val has decided he wants to tell us about his life and has no voice to do it. But I’m happy that so many others like Cher are stepping up to tell it for him.
Photo credit Avalon Red, People and Getty Images