Known as The Queen of Pop, Madonna is the most studied singer of all time. She took Hollywood by storm and caused big waves as well as controversy. She broke the stereotype of how a starlet needs to behave and was considered to be wild and scandalous due to her explicit content. In fact, MTV banned several of her music videos. These days, we push the envelope more and more, but in many ways, Madonna paved the way for artists like Britney Spears and Miley Cyrus.
Although most fans know the cultural icon as a musical artist, she has much more talent in her. Fans were so excited when the fashion legend came out with the Material Girl clothing line. She is also an actress, author, dancer, and, at 62 years old, she continues to show us what she’s got.
From her relationships to what plastic surgeons call her “perfect” face, this is the life of Madonna.
Madonna was brought into the world on November 16, 1958, in Bay City, Michigan. She caused controversy when she referred to her native town as a “little, smelly town in northern Michigan” on national television. But many people took it out of context; she followed the comment by saying she has great affection for her room.
Madonna is one of six children. She was named after her mother Madonna Louise who tragically died of breast cancer when Madonna was just five. Her family called her Little Nonnie, in order to differentiate between the mother and daughter.
An Excellent Student
Growing up, Madonna was a pretty good girl. She was a straight-A student, and the University of Michigan gave her a dance scholarship. She said the reason she was so motivated to get good grades was so that she could get out of her town and become somebody.
Obviously, it all worked out better than she could have imagined. But the singer said that when she left Detroit and headed to New York at 18, she only had $35 in her pocket. Luckily, she had a strong work ethic and managed to make her way.
She Always Loved Attention
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Madonna described her childhood self as a “lonely girl who was searching for something. I wasn’t rebellious in a certain way. I cared about being good at something. I didn’t shave my underarms, and I didn’t wear make-up like normal girls do. But I studied, and I got good grades… I wanted to be somebody.”
By the time she was in middle school, Madonna would flash her underwear to the boys by doing cartwheels and handstands in the hallway. She always loved entertaining, in one way or another.
Madonna described herself as a quiet and nerdy teenager. High school wasn’t the greatest, but it wasn’t terrible either. She was a cheerleader. I guess practicing those cartwheels in the hallway paid off in the end. She whipped out that vintage cheer uniform for one of her concerts.
Her brother Christopher Ciccone spilled some secrets in his autobiographical book Life With My Sister Madonna. He said that his sister lost her v-card with her boyfriend in the back of a Cadillac. Honestly, the back of a car is where most of us did it for the first time.
Fired From Dunkin’ Donuts
Madonna needed to make some cash before becoming a star. She made some extra money by working at the Dunkin’ Donuts in New York’s Times Square. However, her time at the doughnut shop was short-lived. After squirting doughnut jelly at one of her customers, she was fired.
The struggling artist found an interesting job posing nude for art students and made $30. She was really hoping to audition for musical theater so she could have a steady job with good pay. But with no singing training, she was rejected from every audition.
Landing a Solo Deal
Madonna didn’t give up. In 1979, after various attempts, she finally got chosen to be a backup singer and dancer for French disco artist Patrick Hernandez. Then, she formed Breakfast Club with Dan Gilroy and several other bands including Madonna & The Sky, The Millionaires, and Emmy. It all paid off when she impressed someone from Sire Records and got her first solo break.
Madonna’s very first single, Everybody, came out on October 6, 1982. But her first single to make the Billboard Hot 100 chart was Holiday. A track that she recorded called Ain’t No Big Deal went to a disco act named Barracuda, which meant that the song was no longer an option. The Holiday was quickly scraped together and became the replacement.
Her Pepsi Advertisement Barely Aired
Madonna once made a commercial with Pepsi that barely aired. It was around the same time the music video of Like a Prayer was released and shot in a Catholic church. The music videos were too explicit for a church and went against their religious sentiments. Although the advertisement was pulled, she still got a $5 million paycheck for her work.
The beverage company was supposed to sponsor her tour but backed out due to the controversy. In recent years, the singer mocked the beverage company for pulling the ad by posting a picture with a can of Coca-Cola. She’s not the only one who had a controversial ad with the company. Need I remind everyone about Kendall Jenner’s Pepsi commercial?
Jack of All Trades… Sort Of…
In 1979, Madonna made an appearance in A Certain Sacrifice, a strange, unpromising indie art film. Her real movie debut was in 1985’s Vision Quest, where she had a cameo as a club singer. That same year, she also landed her first starring role in Desperately Seeking Susan. She took home the Golden Globe award for Best Actress for her performance in Evita in 1996.
She won the award for worst actor, but that wasn’t enough. She also won the Razzies (Golden Raspberry Award) for worst actress. But that doesn’t really matter in the end. Madonna went on to earn over 100 movies and TV show credits.
Proud Mama of 6
Marriage is not always easy. In 1985, Madonna walked down the aisle with Sean Penn, but the pair called it quits in 1989. Then, in 2000, she tied the knot with Guy Richie, but that marriage fell apart in 2008. Other than that, she has had plenty of boyfriends.
Like the family she was raised in, Madonna now has six children and is a very proud mother. Her biological daughter is Lourdes, and her biological son is Rocco. Her adopted children are David, Mercy, and the twins Esterre and Stella.
Her Other Ventures
Believe it or not, Madonna hasn’t touched meat in decades. Ever since she was 15, she has been a strict vegetarian. In an interview, she revealed that it’s difficult for her to fight off her cravings for unhealthy food, but she manages to control herself. She says she tries to stay away from foods that are too cheesy or too oily.
In addition to singing and acting, Madonna has ventured into writing. As it turns out, she’s talented in that area as well. She wrote a few notable books; the most famous is English Roses and the children’s book Erotica.
The Pope Isn’t a Fan
Based on some of her beliefs and practices, many people assume that Madonna is Jewish. She was actually born Catholic though; she expressed how she sees herself as more of an Israelite than a Jew. She also believes that her practices run deeper than religion and embody all types of religion, including Christianity, Judaism, and Islam.
Madonna considers herself religious, so it only makes sense that she has respect for Pope Francis. In fact, during one of her concerts, she dedicated the song Like a Virgin to him. But it seems like the Pope doesn’t reciprocate her feelings. He told Christians not to go to her Blond Ambition Tour, and he even canceled one of her tours in Rome.
Interesting Gene Pool
Strangely, Madonna is extremely overprotective of her DNA. In fact, she hires DNA teams to remove all the DNA from her room and ensure there is no trace of her. I doubt she will willingly hand her DNA over to sites like Ancestry or 23andMe, so if you think she’s your long-lost relative, you may never know.
That said, she has some famous relatives. Madonna shares the same gene pool as Hilary Clinton, Celine Dion, Lady Gaga, Gwen Stefani, and Mark Wahlberg!
Strange but True Facts
Madonna’s song Vogue is a last-minute track that wasn’t even intended to be a single; it ended up being the diva’s most iconic song ever. What really made Vogue so special was it included the names of 16 Hollywood icons. What’s intriguing is that all the individuals she mentioned are dead.
For years, a porn company was using the singer’s name as its domain name: Madonna.com. She had to file a lawsuit against the company but ultimately got her name back. Interestingly, Madonna was nominated for a star on the Walk of Fame back in 1990, but she turned it down.
Too Explicit for Her Time
We mentioned that Madonna’s song Like A Prayer got backlash from the Catholic Church, but that wasn’t her only work that sparked controversy. Some of the content in her music videos was so explicit that they were banned from MTV. These include What It Feels Like for a Girl and Justify My Love.
Of course, Like a Prayer also made the list. I can see how these videos caused controversy back in the ‘80s, but in 2021, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. I mean, if WAP by Cardi B isn’t banned for explicit content, Madonna would have nothing to worry about. Times have certainly changed.
The Name Is Madonna
Madonna is often referred to as M, Mo, Maddy, and Nonnie. Of all her nicknames, the one she hates the most is Madge, which many people call her. During an interview, she confessed that she doesn’t like that name because it’s what her ex-husband used to call her. Plus, it makes her feel “boring and middle-aged.” She also gave herself the Hebrew name Esther.
Echiniscus Madonnae or Water Bear was named in honor of the pop star. It’s actually a species of water-dwelling organism that can live in the worst conditions with no food or water. I guess it represents Madonna’s strength and perseverance.
All her controversies aside, Madonna has the most successful career out of all the female artists in Hollywood. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame three times, won seven Grammy Awards and 20 Music Video Awards, one being the 1986 Video Vanguard Award, making her the first woman to take home that trophy.
As such an influential artist, it doesn’t come as a surprise that she broke a few records. Madonna currently holds a total of ten records in the Guinness Book of World Records, including the most successful female solo artist and best-selling female artist.
A Rich Icon
Unsurprisingly, Madonna managed to rake in the cash through her successful career. In 2018, she was included in the list of the World’s Richest Self-Made Women. Her current network stands at an astonishing $850 million.
It’s evident that Madonna’s had a significant impact on pop culture. A 2015 analysis of Wikipedia searches on cultural individuals, which was published in the scientific journal PLOS One, showed that Madonna is the most influential woman of all-time, beating out Queen Elizabeth II, who came second.
She Kissed Michael Jackson
When she appeared on James Corden’s The Late Late Show Carpool Karaoke, Madonna revealed a little secret. She confessed that she and Michael Jackson once shared “tongue in mouth kissing.” She added that she never had the opportunity to discuss the make-out session because “no one ever asks me!”
But Jackson was not the only celebrity Madonna snogged. Some of her famous romances were with Tupac, Vanilla Ice, John F. Kennedy Jr, Antonio Banderas, Lenny Kravitz, Dennis Rodman, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, just to name a few.
Be Careful With Your Words
It’s no secret that Madonna has done some unusual and controversial things throughout her career, but this one takes the case. During a women’s march at Washington D.C., the singer claimed that she had “thought an awful thought about blowing up the White House.”
Obviously, this comment led to extreme backlash, and these statements are taken very seriously (especially after 9/11). She later explained that she didn’t mean it literally: “It’s important for people to hear and understand my speech in its entirety rather than one phrase taken wildly out of context.”
Baring It All
These days, showing off your body is just a typical Tuesday for Kim Kardashian. We live in a progressive world where woman’s bodies are something we should be proud of. We are constantly seeing “regular” bodies being advertised and admired. It seems as though there is no longer a stigma about showing your body off, but that wasn’t always the case.
In a major publicity stunt in 1992, Madonna released Sex, a book in which she was featured naked. The book contained “tongue-in-cheek” pictures of her straddling and tied to a cross-shaped table. Not my cup of tea, but you do you, girl.
Brains and Beauty
We know Madonna was a brilliant student and has immense talent. Unfortunately, sometimes scandal and controversy overshadowed her intelligence. But no one has a net worth of $850 million without brains too. Believe it or not, Madonna has an IQ of 140.
Madonna is credited for shaping ‘80s fashion with lace tops, fishnets, and lots of bracelets, but the look was actually created by jewelry designer Maripol. Another fun fact you probably don’t know is that Madonna suffers from Brontophobia, which means the singer is terrified of thunder.
One Way to Get a Reaction
In 2006, Madonna ventured off on her Confession Tour, and staying true to her artistry, it caused controversy. Madonna showed up on stage tied to a mirror-clad crucifix decked out in a crown of thorns. Yikes! As you might have guessed, many considered this to be shameful and offensive.
In 2016, Madonna was honored as Woman of the Year at a Billboard Women in Music event. In her speech, the singer said, “I stand before you as a doormat. Oh, I mean, as a female entertainer. Thank you for acknowledging my ability to continue my career in 34 years in the face of blatant sexism and misogyny and constant bullying and relentless abuse.”
She Dissed Kevin Costner but Apologized
Throughout the years, Madonna has had her fair share of feuds, many of which involve other celebrities. In her 1991 documentary, Truth or Dare, actor Kevin Costner went backstage to tell the singer her performance was “neat.” She wasn’t pleased with the description, and when he left, she said, “Anybody who says my show is ‘neat’ has to go.”
The pop star later felt bad about her rude response. A few years later, Kevin Costner brought his daughters to Madonna’s concert, and she apologized on stage for what happened, simply stating, “I want to apologize to someone. I want to apologize to Kevin Costner.”
Dancing Is My Cardio!
In 2016, Madonna’s personal trainer Craig Smith explained that the singer stays in shape with 30 minutes of exercise a day, six days a week. However, this doesn’t include the intense workouts she gets from rehearsing and performing.
As we mentioned, Madonna is a mother of six. Despite making hits before any of them were even born, at least one of her kids seems to be interested in her work. Madonna posted a video of her son David on his birthday, grooving to the 1983 hit song Holiday. The rest of them don’t really show as much interest.
Like many other Hollywood stars, Madonna enjoys charity and giving back. In 2017, she opened the Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care at the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital in Malawi.
She actually named it after her daughter Mercy James, whom she adopted from Malawi in 2009. The institution is funded by her charity, Raising Malawi. She founded the organization in 2006, the same year she adopted her son David Banda from there. She really has a soft spot for children and really wants to help others who are less fortunate than her.
She Doesn’t Want to Retire
It’s widely understood that Hollywood and society devalue women as they age, but that’s not stopping Madonna. She said she wants to create art for the rest of her life. “Does somebody ask Steven Spielberg why he’s still making movies?” she asked in an interview with Harper’s Bazaar.
“Hasn’t he had enough success? Hasn’t he made enough money? Hasn’t he made a name for himself? Did somebody go to Pablo Picasso and say, ‘Okay, you’re 80 years old. Haven’t you painted enough paintings?’ No. I’m so tired of that question. I just don’t understand it. I’ll stop doing everything that I do when I don’t want to do it anymore. I’ll stop when I run out of ideas.”
How Bad Could It Be?!
Reportedly, Madonna turned Prince down when he asked if she would star in his movie Graffiti Bridge because she thought the screenplay was horrendous. To give you an idea of how bad she thought it was, Madonna said yes to films like Shanghai Surprise, Swept Away, Dick Tracy, Body of Evidence and The Next Best Thing.
Spoiler Alert: None of those are good movies. She received several Razzie awards for Worst Actress and Worst Supporting Actress. If that wasn’t enough, she was half responsible for winning Worst Screen Couple twice. And, in 2000, she won Worst Actress of the Century.
Making Waves Across the Pond
Like a Virgin didn’t only make a huge impact in America, but in British pop culture too. To notice the impact, we need to turn our attention toward the Okey Cokey Karaoke episode of the show Birds of a Feather. In it, comedian Dorien sings Like a Virgin in a nightclub. It was such a testament that the directors included the entire song, from beginning to end.
But her impact on Britain is a two-way road, as the culture impacted her as well. Do you remember Madonna picked up a British accent for whatever reason back when she was married to Guy Ritchie? It wasn’t her proudest moment.
Her British Accent
Madonna is embarrassed by the British tang she picked up for a time. At 61, the singer continued her tour after she needed to cancel her first London show on doctor’s orders. Midway through her performance, she put on a British accent.
She was kidding around and alluding to the fact that she had been teased and ridiculed for the accent she developed while she was married to the British director. The singer admitted, “I didn’t know what anyone was talking about until I heard old interviews of myself. And then I was horrified and flabbergasted,” she said, according to BBC. She added, “Why did you let me do that? I’m from Michigan. It’s all Guy Ritchie’s fault. He made me do it.”
Behind the Camera
We know Madonna is a talented singer, dancer, and author. Her acting career didn’t go as planned, but that doesn’t mean she didn’t try her hand behind the camera. In 2008, the singer wrote and directed a film called Filth and Wisdom.
The movie was about a group of friends living in London. Although Filth and Wisdom got a 28% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, “Madonna has done herself proud,” according to The Times Online. Who cares if it wasn’t a smash hit? Directing and writing a bad movie is more than most of us can say we’ve done.
Her Face Is Perfect
Madonna is beautiful on a whole other level. Several plastic surgeons have used her face as an example of “perfect” features. Many people go under the knife to achieve that kind of facial symmetry, but Madonna was lucky enough to be born with it. I mean, I would love to look like that at 62.
But despite her stunning good looks and acknowledgments for her sense of style, Madonna was once voted “Worst Dressed” in a 1999 issue of People Magazine. I guess her fashion sense isn’t everyone’s cup of tea.
Madonna had an intimate relationship with Carlos Leon, her fitness instructor, and they had a baby named Lourdes together. Looking back at their relationship, Carlos said, “I’m forever grateful to [Madonna]. I have no regrets. I wouldn’t change anything. I got the best thing out of that relationship, and that’s my daughter. My daughter is everything to me.”
Madonna decided to name the baby Lourdes after the city in France. Apparently, it’s where Virgin Mary appeared. Her mother was extremely religious and really wanted to visit Lourdes. Madonna was named after her mom, who was obviously named after the Virgin Mary too.
Madonna once admitted that she has a little bit of OCD, explaining how she needs things done a certain way. In 2008, before her concert at the Palais Nakaia in Nice, she had an interesting request. She asked for the shows and sinks to be removed, completely scrubbed down, and then reinstalled.
If this seems a little over the top, it wasn’t the first time Madonna had these types of demands. Apparently, she has requested completely new toilets on several occasions, according to one of her dressing room riders.
Lots of Personalities
So, do you love Madonna? Which one of her personalities do you love the most? According to Hollywood gossip, Madonna certainly transformed her personality throughout her long successful career. Other than taking on foreign accents, she has made multiple personality transformations.
If you take a closer look, every song that she has sung, every video that she made, and every performance showcases a different personality and image of the starlet. One of her many talents is to immerse herself in any role and adapt to the character that it demands.
Madonna’s brand image seeped way beyond Hollywood. Her father Tony Ciccone expanded his winery business in recent years by launching a new wine called, you guessed it, Madonna! And there are five different types available. Attaching the name Madonna with his bottles adds some class and is a testimony to her versatile personality.
Of course, attaching the musical icon’s name to the brand must have brought up sales. However, Coccone’s vineyard in Michigan was already established and has been flourishing since 1995. If you’re a wine fan, you should definitely check these out!
Justin Timberlake’s Madonna Story
When Madonna was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, she was introduced by fellow pop sensation Justin Timberlake, who previously collaborated with her on her album Hard Candy. He began with the story of what it was like to work with Madonna. He explained how he came into the studio feeling sick, and Madonna suggested he take a shot of B12.
Instead of calling the doctor, she whipped out a zip-loc bag of B12 syringes from her designer bag and said, “Drop ‘em.” As she gave him the shot, she said, “Nice top shelf.” Justin went on to describe the experience as “one of the greatest days of my life.”
The Material Girl Clothing Line
Madonna launched her Material Girl clothing line in 2010. What makes the line so special is that she designed it with her daughter Lourdes. The clothes were inspired by Madonna’s iconic, punk-girl style when she rose to fame in the 1980s and were released under the Macy’s label.
Billboard magazine ranked Madonna at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 All-time Top Artists. She came in second only to The Beatles, making her the most successful solo artist in the history of the American singles chart. Now that’s impressive!
Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow have a long and well-documented relationship. The two Hollywood starlets have been celebrity pals for years, but their friendship goes far beyond the cameras. Paltrow was actually the Maid of Honor at Madonna’s wedding to Guy Ritchie back in 2000.
Like many people who are soul searching, Madonna has found herself in some interesting living arrangements over the years. At one point, she and her boyfriend at the time, Dan Gilroy, camped out together in an abandoned synagogue in Corona, Queens.