Madonna: Snapshot

Date of Birth
August 16, 1958
Birth Place
Bay City, Mich.
Watching her roll around onstage in a wedding dress and fishnet stockings at the 1984 MTV Video Music Awards, few could have predicted that Madonna would become a cultural force to be reckoned with over the next two decades.

Since that moment, the Catholic schoolgirl turned Kabbalist has made movies, launched style trends, sparked religious controversy, sold over 200 million records, and proved herself to be a savvy businesswoman.

Offstage, Madonna took on the roles of wife, mother, children's-book author and humanitarian. In 1996, her daughter Lourdes was born, and in 2000, Madonna married British film director Guy Ritchie. The two have a son, Rocco, and adopted their son David from Malawi. In 2008, Madonna and Ritchie ended their marriage, and the Material Mom went on to adopt another Malawi orphan, Mercy James.

Madonna: Video

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Follow the ultimate fashion icon on her 25-year style journey – see if you can name all the looks! (02:42)

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Madonna: Five Fun Facts

  1. Contrary to the tough-girl image she's cultivated over the years, Madonna was an avid cheerleader who got straight A's and helped found her high school drama club.
  2. Madonna cleaned houses and worked as a hatcheck girl at the Russian Tea Room while studying dance in Manhattan.
  3. What's in a name? "My mother always wanted to go to Lourdes," Madonna told PEOPLE, "so for sentimental reasons, I named my daughter that."
  4. Madonna once was addicted to yoga, practicing seven days a week. "I could've been a member of Cirque du Soleil. It got to the point where I didn't have a glass of wine and I had to go to bed early because everything was around my yoga."
  5. Madonna was recognized by Guinness Book of World Records in 2000 for having the most costume changes: she broke the record with 85 in Evita. According to the BBC, Madonna donned "39 hats, 45 pairs of shoes and 56 pairs of earrings."

Madonna: Biography



August 16

Madonna as Child

Madonna and Tony Ciccone welcome their first daughter, Madonna, nicknamed Nonni to avoid confusion with Mom. When Nonni is 5, her mother, 36, dies of breast cancer. Madonna's father later marries the family housekeeper, Joan Gustafson. "I didn't accept my stepmother when I was growing up," the singer later tells CNN. "In retrospect I think I was really hard on her."




Bright Lights, Big City

Madonna, attending the University of Michigan on a dance scholarship, drops out after two years and moves to New York City, where she lives in a series of ramshackle apartments while studying and dancing with the Alvin Ailey and Pearl Lang companies. In 1979, she begins dabbling in New York's downtown music scene, eventually forming the punk-influenced Breakfast Club with boyfriend Dan Gilroy. Then she launches the rock group Emmy with drummer Steve Bray, a boyfriend from Michigan who helps write and produce dance club tracks that lead to her solo contract with Sire Records.



Rock the House

After four years of struggling to earn money modeling, dancing and singing, Madonna's first single, "Everybody," puts her over the top in the New York club scene. She meets John "Jellybean" Benitez, an in-demand deejay who produces "Holiday." The song leads to an appearance on Dick Clark's "American Bandstand" and ignites her career. Madonna and Benitez, who date for two years, "were a great team," a friend tells PEOPLE.

Read More on Madonna's Life

Photo Credits

Top Left: Dave Hogan/Getty

BIOGRAPHY (top to bottom): ALPHA/GLOBE; Michael McDonnell/Hulton Archive/Getty

Edited by Julia Wang


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