Date of Birth: August 16, 1958
Place of Birth: Bay City, Michigan, USA
Height: 5' 4"
Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone was born August 16, 1958, in Bay City, Michigan. She is the third of six children born to Silvio "Tony" P. Ciccone, a Chrysler engineer, an Italian-American and Madonna Louise Fortin, a French Canadian. She was raised in a Catholic family in the Detroit suburbs of Pontiac and Rochester Hills. Madonna's mother died of breast cancer at age thirty on December 1, 1963, and Madonna has frequently discussed the impact her mother's death had on her life and career, calling it "one of the hardest things I've faced in my life." Her father later married the family housekeeper, Joan Gustafson, and they had two children.
Madonna's star quality was evident at an early age, which prompted her to participate in school shows and take piano and ballet lessons. She attended Rochester Adams High School, where she was a straight-A student, excelled at sports, and was a member of the cheerleading squad. After graduating high school in 1976, she received a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan. In 1977, Madonna left college at the end of her second year and moved to New York City in July 1978 to pursue a dance career.
In the Big Apple with hardly any cash, Madonna barely earned a living by working several minimum wage jobs, one of which was at a Dunkin Donuts counter at Times Square. She joined the Alvin Ailey dance troupe, where although she gained experience, she was not gaining much exposure as one of many dancers in the troupe. Madonna was itching to become famous and this was not the way to achieve her pursuit of stardom.
Developing more of an interest in music, Madonna joined her then boyfriend's band and had the opportunity to be backup singer and dancer for a well-known disco star. With more of a taste for pop music, Madonna began writing songs and performing at local dance clubs. She was beginning to receive the exposure she was aiming for and audiences were beginning to take notice of the confident, untamed singer.
DJ Mark Kamins played one of Madonna's demo singles "Everybody" and it became a popular club hit. Kamins is responsible for the relationship between Madonna and Warner Bothers, since he introduced the two in 1982. She was immediately signed for a record label.
In 1983, Madonna's debut album was released and spawned the America Top 20 chart hit single "Holiday." The album itself was not a tremendous success on the Top 40 radio stations, but it was a hit in the nightclubs. More singles such as "Lucky Star" and "Borderline" were released and were accompanied by music videos that, if anything, showed off Madonna's first "look," which has almost come to be representative of 80's pop culture.
While her debut album was still on the charts, Madonna released her second album in 1984, Like A Virgin. The album, as well as the title track, both reached the number one spots of the music charts.
Already breaking music records in 1985, Madonna embarked on another dimension of her career -- as an actress. Her manager, Freddie DeMann, who was also pop icon Michael Jackson's manager in his Thriller days, negotiated some film roles for Madonna. She appeared as a nightclub singer in the film Vision Quest and as the lead in Desperately Seeking Susan. Susan may have had to be "seeked," but it was clear that the pop star Madonna had been found. Her single from the Vision Quest soundtrack had become a hit, as was the Desperately Seeking Susan soundtrack, giving Madonna simultaneous hit singles and hit albums.
Madonna then tried her hand at stage acting, performing in Goose and Tom-Tom, where she met actor Sean Penn. The couple married on Madonna's birthday in 1986, co-starred in the forgettable film Shanghai Surprise and divorced after four years of marriage.
By this point, Madonna had become a star and had already caused controversy for her "boy toy" image. Now she was causing more controversy with her 1986 single "Papa Don't Preach," about women getting pregnant out of wedlock.
Her video for the 1989 single "Like A Prayer," which featured burning crosses in the background and Madonna, wearing nothing more than a slip, kissing an African-American eroticized saint. The Vatican censured the video and Pepsi backed out of their endorsement with Madonna. Still, the album Like a Prayer spawned 5 Top Twenty hits.
In 1990, Madonna appeared in Dick Tracy with Warren Beatty (who she was dating), released the soundtrack for the film and had hit singles such as "Vogue," which had everyone "voguing" to the song; "Rescue Me," and "Justify My Love," which was also controversial and initially banned from the MTV airwaves.
The early 90's were marked with scandalous projects by Madonna, such as the documentary Truth of Dare, a behind-the-scenes account of her Blonde Ambition Tour; the X-rated coffee-table book Sex; her album, Erotica; and her speaking out about the AIDS epidemic.
In 1992, Madonna sowed her entrepreneurial oats and founded the record company Maverick with her manager, which was part of a $60 million dollar, 7-year deal with Time Warner.
Taking a step away from her scandalous days, Madonna released a softer, more R&B tinged album, Bedtime Stories, spawning a hit duet with Babyface entitled "Take A Bow." She returned to the movies with a role in A League of Their Own, Four Rooms and Blue in the Face.
In 1996, she starred in the title role of the movie version of the musical Evita, which not only earned her a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy, but also made audiences gain a new found respect for her remarkable portrayal of Eva Peron. That same year, Madonna entered a new stage in her life -- motherhood -- with the birth of daughter Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon.
Madonna returned to the music scene in 1998 with the introspective, meditative, and electronic-influenced Ray of Light. With the help of producer William Orbit, Ray of Light spawned such hits as "Frozen" as well as the title-track, as the world was introduced to a more relaxed, more spiritually in-tune Madonna.
Madonna followed the success of Ray of Light with the top-ten single "Beautiful Stranger," a late 60's psyche-pop song she wrote with William Orbit and recorded for the Austin Powers: the Spy Who Shagged Me soundtrack (1999).
In 2000, Madonna released her follow-up film to Evita. The film The Next Best Thing was a disappointment at the box office and was panned by critics. Madonna contributed two songs to the film's soundtrack, namely "Time Stood Still" and European number one "American Pie" a dance cover version of the 1970s Don McLean single.
Her eighth studio album, Music (2000), had Madonna slightly step away from the exploration of spirituality and fame to get back to the "party" spirit of dance, pop, and house music. The album produced three hits, "What It Feels Like for a Girl," "Music," and "Don't Tell Me" which introduced guitars to her style for a more folky note. Music debuted at number one on the U.S. albums chart and became her first number one album release since Like a Prayer (1989).
On December 22, 2000, Madonna married British director Guy Ritchie, whom she had met in 1999 through mutual friends, Sting and his wife Trudie Styler. Madonna gave birth to a son, Rocco Ritchie, on August 11, 2000.
In 2002, she wrote and performed the theme song to the James Bond film Die Another Day, and had a cameo in the film as a fencing instructor. The song reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for both a Golden Globe for Best Original Song (and a Golden Raspberry for Worst Song).
Madonna's ninth studio album, American Life (2003), in which her lyrics were themed on the aspects of the American dream, fame, fortune and society, polarized music critics with both extremely positive and extremely negative reviews. Arguably her most daring and musically extreme album, American Life presented a darker and more serious side of the singer. The single "American Life" failed to perform well on the U.S. singles charts, peaking at thirty-seven. Having sold just 4 million copies, American Life is the lowest selling album of her career. However, the album did peak at number one on the U.S. albums chart and became her second consecutive album to do so.
Madonna's tenth album Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005), was built as a continuous mix of dance songs, with musical elements borrowed from the '70s as well as her own repertoire. The album reached number one in 41 countries and sold more than 8 million copies.Madonna currently resides in an English estate in Wiltshire, UK with Ritchie and her children.
Heavenly Celebrities: Madonna
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