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Celebrity Watch: Madonna

AP Photo/Nelson Antoine

Madonna is one of the most famous icons in the world and is all of the following: singer, songwriter, record producer, dancer, actress, film producer, film director, fashion designer, author, and entrepreneur. Madonna Louise Ciccone was born on August 16, 1958 in Bay City, Michigan. Born to parents Madonna Louise and Silvio Ciccone and is the third of six children. In 1963, her mother dies of breast cancer and her father then remarries their housekeeper which they have two children. During her years in school, she became known for her unusual behavior, “Madonna performed cartwheels and handstands in the hallways between classes, dangled by her knees from the monkey bars during recess, and puller her skirt up during class, so that all they boys could see her briefs” says Randy Taraborrelli. In Rochester Adams High School, she was becoming a straight-A student and a member of the cheerleading squad.

After graduating from high school, Madonna wanted to study dance so she received a scholarship at the University of Michigan. She had taken ballet lessons and by 1977, she moves to New York City to pursue a career in modern dance. At this time she was poor and had worked as a waitress in Dunkin Donuts. She meets musician Dan Gilroy and becomes part of his rock band, the Breakfast Club. Madonna performed as a singer, drummer, and guitarist. However she departed from the band to form another called Emmy in 1980. DJ and record producer Mark Kamins was very impressed by the talent that Madonna had, he brings her to record a demo at Sire Records. Madonna signed a deal with the record company that also belonged to Warner Bros. Records and made her debut album “Madonna and then her first release single on April 24, 1982, “Everybody.”

In 1984, “Like a Virgin became her first number one album on the chart and then later a scandal would come along in 1985, when Penthouse and Playboy published a number of nude photos of Madonna taken in 1978, where she posed for the photographs and they were sold for $100,000. “Slowly Madonna’s look and manner of dress, her performances and music videos became influential among young girls and women. Largely created by stylist and jewelry designer Maripol, Madonna’s style of dress; defined by lace tops, skirts over Capri pants, fishnet stockings, jewelry bearing the Christian cross, multiple bracelets, and bleached hair, became a female fashion trend in the 1980s” says Carol Clerk. Madonna made film appearances such as “Vision Quest” (soundtrack, “Crazy For You”), “Desperately Seeking Susan” (soundtrack, “Into the Groove”), and “Who’s That Girl” (soundtrack, (Who’s That Girl”) remarked as one of the best films of the 1980’s. While filming the music video “Material Girl” she began to start dating actor Sean Penn and then they filed for divorce in 1989.

“By the end of the 1980’s, Madonna had become the most successful female artist of the decade, with three number one albums and seven number one singles; surpassed only by Michael Jackson” says Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Madonna signed an endorsement deal with Pepsi debuting her song “Like a Prayer” in a Pepsi commercial. The video featured catholic symbols such as stigmata and burning crosses. Pepsi revoked the commercial and cancelled their sponsorship contract with Madonna and of course this disturbed the Vatican. In the music video, “Like a Prayer” included racial symbolism of an African American church choir, a statue of a black saint, and a burning cross in the back. It has been reported that Madonna’s use of religious symbols have offended the Russian Orthodox Church and The Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia advocating boycotting her concert, just like the Blonde Ambition World Tour. As Madonna stated “My performance is neither anti-Christian sacrilegious or blasphemous. Rather it is my plea to the audience to encourage mankind to help one another to see the world as a unified whole.”

During the 1990’s, Madonna appeared in major films such as playing Breathless Mahoney from the comic to movie adaptation “Dick Tracy” where she also had began an relationship with actor Warren Beatty that didn’t last. She starred in the erotic thriller “Body of Evidence” and then starred in an all girl’s baseball team in “A League of Their Own.” She would mostly shine like a star in the musical film “Evita” along with Antonio Banderas. She also appeared in the music soundtrack video “Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.” Madonna becoming the greatest commercial success had also gotten the opportunity to start her own entertainment company called Maverick. Then the release of “The Immaculate Collection” a compilation of Madonna’s greatest hits album.

When “Truth or Dare” was released, a documentary that showed sexually explicit footage of Madonna .Over the years, Madonna has received criticism for her dominatrix bondage antics. “She faced strong negative publicity, with critics and fans commenting that she had gone too far and that her career was over” says Randy Taraborrelli. In her book “Sex” consisted of sexually provocative and explicit images, the copies sold 1.5 million copies. Then later, she published one of her first books titled “The English Roses” that peaked at the top of New York Times Bester list. In 1999, she becomes involved in a relationship with Guy Ritchie, they married and gave birth to son Rocco Ritchie. Madonna starred in the film “Swept Away” directed by her husband Guy Ritchie that wasn’t a commercial success. At the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards, Madonna’s infamous kiss with Britney Spears sparked controversy.

Madonna has slightly changed her image and reputation by becoming a mother and a activist. She traveled to Malawi to help fund an orphanage. She would file adoption papers for David Banda Mwale and was later renamed David Banda Mwale Ciccone Ritchie. This raised a public reaction because both adoptive parents must have reside in the country for one year. Madonna made an appearance on the Oprah Winfrey Show and talked about that there was no written adoption laws in Malawi that regulated foreign adoption. The adoption was finalized on May 28, 2008. Madonna then adopted child Chi undo “Mercy” James from Malawi but the court refused the registrar because Madonna was not a resident of Malawi, however, on June 12, 2009, the Supreme Court of Malawi granted Madonna the rights to adopt Mercy James. Madonna produced and wrote the documentary “I Am Because We Are” about the problems that the Malawian people face.

In April of 2008, Madonna released her eleventh album, “Hard Candy.” The album debuted at one in 37 countries worldwide with over 280,000 copies sold and positive reviews, also along with “4 Minutes” with Justin Timberlake. “According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, Madonna has sold more than 200 million albums worldwide” says IFPI Platinum Europe Awards. Also to be known as the best-selling female rock star of the 20th century. In 2008, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

In 2008, Madonna’s brother Christopher Ciccone book was released called “Life with My Sister Madonna” that caused a fallen out between the two. Three months later, her and husband Guy Ritchie file a divorce. In 2009, Madonna released her third greatest hit album “Celebration”. On January 22, 2010, Madonna performed in concert for In the Hope for Haiti Now: A Global Benefit for Earthquake Relief.

Madonna’s influences of her own comes from famous blonde Hollywood starlets like Carole Lombard, Judy Holiday, and Marilyn Monroe. This is how the “Material Girl” music video recreated Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend from the film “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. “Madonna has used MTV and music videos to establish her popularity and enhance her recorder work” says biographer Andrew Metz, The Madonna Companion. The 1990’s was a time of Madonna’s sexual explicit image that has benefited her career and has made an impact on sexuality and feminism. The Times has stated, “Madonna, whether you like it or not, you started a revolution amongst women in music.” However, some people don’t share Madonna’s sexual point of view, “Madonna has been largely responsible for erasing the line between music and pornography. Before Madonna, it was possible for women more famous for their voices than their cleavage to emerge as music superstars. But in the post-Madonna universe, even highly original performers such as Janet Jackson now feel the pressure to expose their bodies on national television to sell albums” says Shmuel Boteach, author of Hating women: America’s hostile campaign against the fairer sex. If there’s anyone that could teach you about sex, you can watch Madonna music videos and also learn about sexual orientation. There was even controversy that Madonna had bisexual relationships with supermodel Naomi Campbell and comedian Sandra Bernhard. Her sexy female power in her music and image has influenced other female pop singers like Brittany Spears, “ I think we have the same drive. When we want something, we get it.” Also, Spice Girls and Beyonce Knowles. Madonna has become a businesswoman in her own right by making herself a commercial success. “Like a Prayer” made number one on the Billboard 200 chart, selling a total of 11 million copies. The album produced three top five singles “Express Yourself” and “Cherish.” Her own clothing line M by Madonna. A 13-foot statue of Madonna in a bustier.


Boteach, Shmuel. Hating Women: America’s hostile campaign against the fairer sex. (2005). HarperCollins, p.110, ISBN 9780060781224.

Clerk, Carol. Madonnastyle. (2002). Omnibus Press, ISBN 0-7119-8874-9.

IFPI Platinum Europe Awards. September 9, 2006. Keane, Shakira, Coldplay and Madonna scoop summer Platinum Awards. IFPI.

Metz, Allen; Benson, Carol. The Madonna Companion: Two Decades of Commentary. (1999). Music Sales Group, ISBN 0825671949.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Madonna: Introduction 2008. October 11, 2009.

Taraborrelli, Randy J. (2002), Madonna: An Intimate Biography, Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0743228804.



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