Controversial Madonna has etched her mark in music's history. She has achieved remarkable fame during the past 20 years of her career by dominating the music charts, hitting the silver screen and entering the publishing industry. Madonna established herself early as a pop icon and loved being the center of attention.
Being damned and banned by many people and institutions for her
shameless self-exposure and naked ambition did little to slow down her album
sales. The "Boy Toy" appeared in albums, videos, movies and books with an image
of a sex-crazed woman. Often the public preferred discussing her lifestyle and
personal life rather than discuss her music. Although Madonna's image today
seems to have gone through a metamorphosis, she continues to keep complete
control of her music and image.
Childhood and Family:
Madonna Louise Ciccone was born on August 16, 1958, in Michigan, to Sylvio [a.k.a. Tony] Ciccone and Madonna Fortin. Madonna, the eldest Ciccone daughter, was named after her mother. Madonna then added "Veronica" as her confirmation name. Madonna is often referred to as "Nonnie" in order to distinguish her from her mother.
Madonna's father, Italian Sylvio Ciccone, was an engineer at Chrysler. He was strict while nurturing his children and insisted they learn how to play a musical instrument and receive strict Catholic instruction. However, Madonna was allowed to take ballet lessons, as she was more interested in dancing. Madonna attended several Catholic schools including Saint Andrews, Saint Fredericks, and Academie Du Sacre Coeur. Furthermore, she attended church daily.
Madonna's mother, Madonna Fortin, of French-Canadian decent, died from breast cancer in 1963. Being close to her mother, Madonna shared. "One of the hardest thing I've faced in my life was the death of my mother and that's something I really haven't got over to this day." She also said, "She tried to keep her fear deep down inside and not let us know. She never complained."
Madonna learned to be tough and independent early in life. Her father employed several housekeepers after her mother's death until he married housekeeper Joan Gustafson. Madonna never learned to really love her stepmother and was in a constant struggle with Joan for her father's attention. The death of her mother and the mixed, love/hate relationship with her father, were determined to be strong drives behind Madonna's career.
Madonna's often sought attention by her eccentric dress and joining cheerleading at school. Eventually, her family moved to Rochester in N.Y. She graduated from Rochester Adams High School in 1976 and decided to attend an audition for a scholarship. She won the scholarship and chose to study dance at the University of Michigan. Although use to a "dancer's discipline" since she had formally studied dance at the Rochester School of Ballet, she left the University of Michigan after three semesters and moved to New York City.
In 1985 Madonna married actor Sean Penn in Malibu Beach,
California. The marriage lasted until 1988. In 1996, she gave birth to her
daughter, Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon, with her former private fitness trainer
Carlos Leon. In 2000, Madonna welcomed her second child, Rocco Ritchie and on
December the 22nd, she married Guy Ritchie, a film director in Scotland.
After moving to New York, Madonna earned a living by working several minimum wage jobs such as one at Dunkin Donuts. In 1977, she joined Alvin Ailey's dance troupe and gained experience as one of many dancers in the troupe. Madonna also took modeling jobs, which sometimes included posing in the nude.
Two years later, Madonna traveled to Europe in answer to Patrick Hernandez's offer that she work as a back-up singer and dancer. In Paris she met boyfriend Dan Gilroy who taught her how to play the guitar and drums. When the couple returned to New York, they put together the band, The Breakfast Club, where she played drums, wrote songs and sang. However in 1980, she left the band.
In 1980 Madonna teamed up with Detroit-born drummer and former boyfriend, Steve Bray, to form the band Emmy. Later leaving the group, Madonna and Bray worked on dance/disco music, which lead Madonna to sign a record deal with Sire Records. Madonna recorded "Everybody," a US club hit in 1982, with leading New York disc jockey Mark Kamins as the producer. With "Holiday," written and produced by Jellybean, Madonna turned from the disco scene and venturing into mainstream pop. "Holiday" achieved the US Top 20 in late 1983 and was a Top 10 hit across Europe the next year.
While her first album was still topping the charts, Madonna released her second album, Like A Virgin, in 1984, with the title track hitting the number one spot on the music charts. A year later, in 1985, after smashing into success in the music industry, she landed her first role in Vision Quest as a nightclub singer and as the lead in Desperately Seeking Susan. The singles from both of the films became hits, adding to Madonna's "hit list."
Madonna caused controversy with her 1986 single "Papa Don't Preach" and in 1989 the Vatican damned her video for the single "Like A Prayer" as it was considered to link religion and eroticism. Because of this Pepsi-Cola backed out of their contract with Madonna, but the publicity about the album Like a Prayer helped to make it a worldwide bestseller, spawning 5 Top Twenty hits.
Her appearance in Dick Tracy (1990) created more hit singles such as "Vogue," "Rescue Me," and "Justify My Love" which was also controversial and initially banned from the MTV airwaves. Madonna's scandalous projects such as the documentary of her Blonde Ambition Tour (Truth Or Dare), the X-rated coffee-table book Sex, her albums and some of her public appearances were controversial, but also kept the media talking.
In 1996 Madonna was crowned with a Golden Globe for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy and earned a newborn respect for her notable portrayal of Eva Peron in the movie version of the musical Evita. After a brief break in the music scene to give birth to her daughter Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon, Madonna released a much more introspective, meditative album titled Ray of Light. The album created such hits as "Frozen," "Ray of Light," and "Nothing Really Matters."
Madonna balances success with her personal life. In 2000, after baptizing their son Rocco Ritchie, Madonna married Guy Ritchie in Dornoch, Scotland at the beautiful Skibo Castle. Unlike her previous style, Madonna kept her wedding and the baptism a personal affair.
Madonna, with her "once upon a time" image of a sexual charged woman, to the more current one of a spiritual yoga-practicing mother, once stated, "If you want to change the world, change yourself!"