Photo: AP

The idea that Cher has ever been regarded by her Hollywood peers as anything less than a fabulous creature with otherworldly cheekbones is something approaching blasphemy. But George Miller and Jack Nicholson, two crusty codgers with matching flyaway eyebrows, saw fit to criticize Cher three decades ago, calling her, of all things, OLD.

Cher told this little gem of a yarn during a show in Atlantic City this weekend, following her descent to the stage from the ceiling, “dripping in gold and wearing a larger-than-life orange wig,” as The Hollywood Reporter put it. She then ordered her fans to sit down, ‘cause she had a story for them about her Witches of Eastwick director and co-star, Miller and Nicholson, respectively.

In 1986, Cher was nervous about turning 40, which is a reasonable fear though obviously unwarranted for a woman who can still plank for five minutes at 72. Nevertheless, she had a great time at her birthday, flirting with her future beau Rob Camilletti before eventually going to sleep, “dreaming these fabulous thoughts of being 40.” Suffice to say her peace did not last:

“And in the morning, my telephone rang and the man said, ‘Hi, Cher, it’s George Miller.’ I said, ‘Hey, George.’ He was the director of Witches of Eastwick. So he said, ‘I just wanted to call and tell you that I don’t want you in my movie and Jack Nicholson and I think you’re too old and you’re not sexy.’ Good morning, 40!”

Tears “started streaming down my old face,” the singer said with a laugh. “I was heartbroken. I wanted this movie so badly. Usually, in Hollywood, if you insult somebody, you hang up,” she said, adding that Miller was relentless in his run of insults. “He didn’t want to hang up. He just wanted to tell me everything: ‘I hate the way you walk, I hate the way you talk, I don’t like the color of your hair, I don’t like your eyes.’”

That’s when Cher hit back. “So, finally I was like, ‘OK, look mother—,’ yeah, I said the whole thing. I said, ‘You didn’t find me under a rock. I was nominated for an Academy Award for Silkwood. And I got the Cannes Film Festival award for best actress for Mask,’” the superstar — exuding confidence onstage in a gladiator-inspired leotard — said to resounding applause. “’So, goodbye!’”

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But then Cher did get the lead role in Witches of Eastwick, although I’m not sure why she’d want to work with those dicks anyway. Then again, Cher wouldn’t be Cher if she let the haters get her down, and isn’t that why we love her?