When Cher summons you, you go. But a 21-year-old Val Kilmer wasn’t initially interested when a friend of the pop diva’s approached him at an NYC eatery and said she wanted to meet him. “Not out of snobbery, but because I was sure we had nothing in common,” Val, 60, writes in his new memoir, I’m Your Huckleberry. Yet he ultimately agreed to say hello and ended up so enraptured that he drove Cher, then in her mid-30s, home on the back of his Harley.
It was the start of an on-again, off-again early-’80s romance, but more importantly, a “forever” friendship that helped him survive throat cancer decades later: “We had a wild ride, running around the world, and though we’d eventually veer off into different directions, our spirits stayed united.”
While they dated, “we were less lovers and more best friends,” Val says. “It was about curiosity and intellect.” So when they broke up, there were no hard feelings and the “friendship deepened.”
After Val had to sell his New Mexico home due to the 2008 financial crisis, he rented a Malibu cottage near Cher, bringing the pair closer and ultimately saving his life. “I discovered a lump in my throat that turned out to be cancer [and] after my challenges with breathing, she suggested I stay in her guesthouse,” he recalls.
One night he awoke vomiting blood. “I called 911, then alerted my hostess. Cher stepped in, stilled my spirits [and] couldn’t have been more caring … yet I saw her scanning the paramedic like, hubba hubba. We laughed out loud!” Their bond helped him through his toughest hour, and he’s now in remission. “For her true friends,” says Val of Cher, “her loyalty and love never die.”
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