Madonna Louise Ciccone (born August 16, 1958), better known worldwide by only her first name, is an iconic American pop singer, songwriter, musician, record and film producer, dancer, actress, and author whose level of fame and success has earned her superstar status for over two decades. Her name is sometimes listed as "Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone," Veronica being her chosen confirmation name.

She is noted for her innovative music videos, elaborately mounted stage performances, and use of political, sexual, and religious themes and imagery in her work, and is often referred to as the "Queen of Pop" and a pop icon and living legend. Madonna is one of the most influential celebrities in the worlds of pop music and fashion.

In 2000, The Guinness Book of Records credited Madonna as the most successful female recording artist of all time, with estimated worldwide sales of 120 million albums. Her record label, Warner Bros. Records, reported in 2005 that she had achieved international sales in excess of 200 million albums. Madonna is the highest earning female singer of all time, according to the 2007 Guinness Book of Records. According to Billboard Magazine, Madonna's 2006 Confessions Tour was the most successful concert tour for a female artist in history.

Madonna Ciccone was born in Bay City, Michigan. She is the third of six children born to Silvio "Tony" P. Ciccone, a Chrysler engineer of Italian American extraction, whose parents originated from Pacentro, in the region of Abruzzo, Italy, and Madonna Louise Fortin, a French Canadian. She was raised in a Catholic family in the Detroit suburbs of Pontiac and Avon Township (now 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."

Madonna has become a breast cancer activist for Cancer Research UK and lent her name to their All Join Together campaign for breast cancer awareness month in October.

Her father later married the family housekeeper, Joan Gustafson, and they had two children.

Tony Ciccone required his children to take music lessons; however, after a few months of piano lessons, Madonna convinced him to allow her to take ballet classes instead. Madonna's ballet teacher, Christopher Flynn, mentored her in dance and provided Madonna with her first exposure to gay discotheques (especially Menjo's and The Escape/Backstreet, both in Detroit), a scene that would later have an impact on her music and style. 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, with Flynn's encouragement, Madonna left college at the end of her second year and moved to New York City in July 1978 to pursue a dance career. Looking back at her arrival in New York, Madonna has said: "When I came to New York it was the first time I'd ever taken a plane, the first time I'd ever gotten a taxi-cab, the first time for everything. And I came here with 35 dollars in my pocket. It was the bravest thing I'd ever done."

Madonna experienced financial difficulties, and for some time lived in squalor and worked a series of low-paying jobs, including a stint at Dunkin' Donuts. She also worked as a nude model on occasion. She studied with Martha Graham and Pearl Lang, and later performed with several modern dance companies, including Alvin Ailey and the Walter Nicks dancers. While performing as a dancer for the French disco artist, Patrick Hernandez, on his 1979 world tour, Madonna met and became romantically involved with the musician Dan Gilroy, with whom she later formed her first rock band, the Breakfast Club, in New York. In addition to providing vocals, she played drums and guitar before forming the band Emmy in 1980 with drummer and former boyfriend Stephen Bray. She and Bray wrote and produced a number of solo disco and dance songs that brought her local attention in New York dance clubs. DJ and record producer Mark Kamins was sufficiently impressed by her demo recordings to bring them to the attention of Sire Records' founder Seymour Stein.

In 1980, Madonna signed a singles deal with Sire Records in the United States that paid her $5,000 per song. Her first release, "Everybody," a self-written song produced by Mark Kamins, became a dance hit in the U.S. on the Billboard Hot Dance/Club Chart but failed to make an impact on the Billboard Hot 100. It also gained airplay on U.S. R&B radio stations, leading many to assume that Madonna was a black artist. The double-sided 12" vinyl single featuring "Burning Up" and "Physical Attraction" followed in 1983, and was a success on the U.S. dance charts. These results convinced Sire Records' executives to finance an album.
Audio samples:

* "Borderline" (1983) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
o A mid-tempo song about complaints lovers have about their partners. It became Madonna's first top-ten hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S.
* "Like A Virgin" (1984) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
o Madonna's most recognizable and popular song. It became her first number-one hit in the U.S., but has been criticized for its sexual subject matter.
* "Material Girl" (1984) (file info) — play in browser (beta)
o The second top-ten single from Madonna's album Like a Virgin. The song's title would later earn her the nickname "The Material Girl" in the worldwide press.
* Problems playing the files? See media help.

Her debut album, Madonna (1983), a collection of dance songs, was primarily produced by Reggie Lucas, but early in the recording process both realized that they could not work well together. After initial production on the album was completed, Madonna took the finished but unsatisfactory album to her then boyfriend, John "Jellybean" Benitez, who remixed and rearranged it. It reached number eight on the U.S. albums chart and contained five successful singles, including her first world-wide hit, "Holiday", and has since been certified 5x platinum with world sales in excess of twelve million copies. According to Australian music guru Ian "Molly" Meldrum, it was Australia that gave Madonna her first hit for the song "Holiday" on Meldrum's hugely popular show "Countdown."

Madonna became popular with teenagers due to her sexy appearance, and it wasn't long before teenage girls, who were known as "wannabes", were dressing up as her.

Her follow up album, Like a Virgin (1984), was an international success, and became her first number one album on the U.S. albums chart. Buoyed by the success of its title track, which reached number one across the world, including a six week stay at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 Singles Chart, the album has sold twenty one million copies worldwide and produced four top-five singles in the U.S. and the U.K. Her performance of the song at the first MTV Video Music Awards, during which she writhed on the stage (on top of a wedding cake) wearing a combination bustier/wedding gown, lacy stockings, garters, and her then-trademark "Boy Toy" belt, was the first of several public displays that boosted Madonna's fan base as much as they incensed some critics, who felt that her provocative style attempted to disguise an absence of talent.

In 1985, Madonna entered mainstream films, beginning with a brief appearance as a club singer in the film Vision Quest. The soundtrack to the film contained her second number one pop hit, the Grammy-nominated ballad "Crazy for You." Later that year she appeared in the commercially and critically successful film Desperately Seeking Susan, with her comedic performance winning her positive reviews. The film introduced the dance song "Into the Groove", which was released as a B-side to her single "Angel", peaking at number five in the U.S. In Europe, "Into the Groove" became a major hit, her first U.K. number one and her first French gold single (600,000 copies sold).

Madonna embarked on her first concert tour in the U.S. in 1985 titled The Virgin Tour, supported by The Beastie Boys.

In July 1985, Penthouse and Playboy magazines published a number of black and white nude photos of Madonna taken in the late 1970s. The publications caused a swell of publicity and public discussion of Madonna, who remained unapologetic and defiant. Speaking to a global audience at the Live Aid charity concert at the height of the controversy, Madonna made a critical reference to the media and vowed that, for her performance, she would not give her critics the satisfaction of taking off her jacket, despite the sweltering heat.

Madonna's 1986 album True Blue presented a more musically and thematically mature album than its predecessors, prompting Rolling Stone to declare, 'singing better than ever, Madonna stakes her claim as the pop poet of lower-middle-class America.' The album included the soulful ballad "Live to Tell", which she wrote for the film At Close Range, starring then-husband Sean Penn. The album was also the first to credit her as producer. She collaborated with composer Patrick Leonard, who would become a long-time collaborator and friend. True Blue reached #1 in thirty-eight countries, and sold over 24 million copies worldwide, becoming her most successful studio album internationally, and produced five successful singles, including three #1 entries in the United States.

The music videos for the album True Blue displayed Madonna's continued interest in pushing the boundaries of the video medium to a cinematic level, including elaborate art direction, cinematography, and film devices such as character and plot. Though Madonna had already made videos expressing her sexuality, she added religious iconography, gender archetypes, and social issues to her oeuvre, and these concepts would carry through her work for years to come. One notable example was the "Open Your Heart" video, her first collaboration with French photographer Jean-Baptiste Mondino.

In 1987, Madonna starred in the box office failureWho's That Girl?, and contributed four songs to its soundtrack, including the film's title track, which became an international hit and Madonna's sixth #1 single in the US.

In 1987, the star embarked on the successful Who's That Girl World Tour, beginning her long association with backing vocalists and dancers Donna DeLory and Niki Haris, and moving closer to the more elaborately staged theater-inspired concert tour. It also marked her first run-in with the Vatican, with the Pope urging fans not to attend her performances in Italy. The Vatican later expressed outrage at the unveiling of a racy 13-foot tall statue of Madonna in the Italian town of Pacentro, from where her father's family hailed.

Later that year, Madonna released a remix album, You Can Dance, which included one new track, "Spotlight". Although the album did not reach the Top 10, it was certified platinum in the US. Its U.S. sales of nearly 2 million copies grant its status as the most successful remix album ever.

Madonna's fourth album, 1989's Like a Prayer, presented more reflective and personal lyrics and a more mature vocal style. Co-written and co-produced with Patrick Leonard and Stephen Bray, it settled her as a serious pop artist. Most of the songs were recorded with all the musicians playing in the same room, which gave the album the straightforwardness and sincerity of a live recording. She teamed up with Prince on a duet, who also lent his talent as a guitarist on two songs. Like a Prayer garnered Madonna the strongest reviews of her career and attracted a more mature audience. All Music Guide described the album as "her best and most consistent", while Rolling Stone hailed the album as " close to art as pop music gets". Like a Prayer produced five singles, including the #1 title track and #2 "Express Yourself".

In early 1989, Madonna signed an endorsement deal with soft drink manufacturer Pepsi, which would debut her new song, "Like a Prayer", in a Pepsi commercial that Madonna herself would also appear in. The commercial used a child's birthday party as a plot device, and was not controversial in itself; however, the following day, the music video for the song premiered on MTV. It featured many Catholic symbols, including stigmata, and was condemned by the Vatican for its "blasphemous" mixture of Catholic symbolism and eroticism. It depicted a black man, who comes to the aid of woman being murdered, arrested for the crime and jailed, until Madonna, who has witnessed the crime, secures his release. Although the video denounced racism, Madonna was criticized for her use of symbols such as burning crosses. The public linked the commercial with the music video, and although they were different, Pepsi was subsequently bombarded with complaints and threats of boycotts; Pepsi withdrew the commercial from broadcasting, but Madonna was allowed to keep her five million dollar fee, as Pepsi had voided their contract. Sales for the album increased during the ensuing publicity, and it reached #1 on the US albums chart, ultimately being certified 4x platinum.

In 1990, Madonna starred as Breathless Mahoney in a film adaptation of the popular comic book series Dick Tracy. To accompany the launching of the film, as well as to provide more material for her upcoming Blonde Ambition Tour, she released I'm Breathless, a novelty album, with songs inspired by the film's 1930s setting. It featured the #1 dance-floor anthem "Vogue" (which was a hommage to the Hollywood stars), the Gershwin-esque "Something to Remember", and three songs by Stephen Sondheim (among them, "Sooner or Later (I Always Get My Man)", which won an Academy Award for 'Best Original Song'). I'm Breathless was a success in Europe, Australia and the United States, where it was certified 2x platinum.

In addition, that year, Madonna released her first greatest hits album, The Immaculate Collection, which included two new songs, "Justify My Love" and "Rescue Me". The music video for "Justify My Love", again directed by Mondino, showed Madonna in a Parisian hotel, in suggestive scenes with her then-lover, gay icon and indie actor Tony Ward, as well as scenes of S&M, bondage with gay and lesbian characters, and brief nudity. It was deemed too sexually explicit for MTV, and was subsequently banned from the station. Warner Bros. Records released the video as a video single - the first of its kind - and it remains the highest-selling video single of all time. "Justify My Love" itself reached #1 in the US singles chart.

In 1991, Madonna starred in her first documentary film, Truth or Dare (also known as In Bed with Madonna outside North America), which chronicled her successful 1990 Blond Ambition Tour, as well as her personal life. The following year, she appeared in the baseball film A League of Their Own, and recorded the film's theme song, "This Used to Be My Playground", which became her tenth #1 single in the United States.

In 1992, Madonna released the erotic book Sex, photographed by long time collaborator Steven Meisel. Adult in nature, it featured strong sexual content and graphic photographs featuring Madonna depicting simulations of sexual acts and BDSM. The book caused huge publicity at the time of its release, primarily leading to bad press and negative attitudes towards Madonna. Many critics considered it another calculated controversy timed to boost sales of her new album, which the public linked together because of their generally close release dates and overt sexual content.

Erotica (1992), produced primarily with Shep Pettibone, was disregarded as simply being a "porn" album, with most believing that all the album tracks were about sex; but in truth the album only featured three (out of fourteen) overtly sexual songs: "Erotica", "Where Life Begins", and "Did You Do It?". The album peaked at number two in the U.S. and produced six singles, with its most successful being its title track "Erotica," which became the highest-debuting (number two) single in the history of the U.S. Hot 100 Airplay chart. The controversial music video that accompanied the song only aired three times on MTV due to its highly charged sexual content.

The Girlie Show Tour in 1993 was Madonna's most explicit and controversial concert tour to date and featured Madonna dressed as a whip-cracking dominatrix, surrounded by topless dancers including Luca Tommassini and Carrie Ann Inaba. The controversy caused by the tour followed Madonna when she caused uproar in Puerto Rico by rubbing the island's flag between her legs on stage, while Orthodox Jews protested against her first-ever show in Israel. Madonna would later comment that this period of her life was designed to give the world every single morsel of what they seemed to be demanding in their invasion of her private life. She hoped that once it was all out in the open, people could settle down and focus on her work.

After the raunchy sex period, Madonna released her sixth studio album, Bedtime Stories (1994), co-produced by Nellee Hooper and Dallas Austin. Madonna at the time was inspired by R&B/Rock Singer Joi's debut album Pendulum Vibe (1993), and was so in love with it that she recruited producer Dallas Austin to help with her project. She was also responsible for making the call that landed Joi becoming the first black model in a major Calvin Klein print ad campaign[citation needed]. The album features Madonna turning to a more R&B-flavoured sound. It was a success in Europe, Australia, and the United States, where it peaked at number three and was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Pop Vocal Album category. With its title track partially written by Björk, the album gave a hint of what would come musically a few years later. It produced four singles, including "Take a Bow," co-written and produced with Babyface. The song was a success on the Billboard Hot 100, reaching number one for seven consecutive weeks, but it was a commercial failure elsewhere in the world, becoming the first Madonna song not to chart in the UK Top 10, charting at number 16. The Michael Haussman Spanish-themed video, meanwhile, would later help her win the lead role in Evita. In late 1995, Madonna released Something to Remember, a collection of her best ballads, which featured three new tracks, including a cover of Marvin Gaye's classic "I Want You", which she recorded with British band Massive Attack, and the top ten hit "You'll See." The album just missed the top five on the U.S. charts; it has since been certified triple platinum.

In 1996, Madonna's most critically successful film, Evita, was released. The film's soundtrack became her twelfth platinum album and produced two popular singles, "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" and "You Must Love Me", the latter of which was written specifically for the film. "You Must Love Me" won an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for Best Original Song From a Motion Picture the following year. Madonna herself also won a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Musical or Comedybut failed to receive an Academy Award nomination.

Madonna's seventh album, Ray of Light (1998), blended personal and introspective lyrics with Eastern sounds, down-tempo, electronic instrumentation, strings by Craig Armstrong and a strong rave flavor. The album reached number two on the U.S. albums chart and since its release has been certified 4x platinum. It earned Madonna the strongest reviews of her career since Like a Prayer and has been widely considered by critics to be one of her greatest artistic achievements. described the album as "her richest, most accomplished record yet", while Rolling Stone credited Madonna and her co-producer William Orbit for "creating the first mainstream pop album that successfully embraces techno," stating that musically Ray of Light is her "most adventurous record" yet.[14] Ray of Light produced five singles, including the European number one "Frozen". The album won four awards at the 1999 Grammy Awards and has been ranked #363 on Rolling Stone's list of 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. 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. Music (2000), her eighth studio album, 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. However, she retained the introspective poignancy of Ray of Light in songs such as "Paradise (Not for Me)" and introduced guitars for a more folky note, notably in "Don't Tell Me" or ballads such as "Gone". Music debuted at number one on the U.S. albums chart and became her first number one album release since Like a Prayer (1989). Mainly co-written and produced with French house musician Mirwais Ahmadzai, the album produced three singles, including the worldwide number one "Music." The album's third single "What It Feels Like for a Girl" featured a controversial music video, directed by Madonna's husband Guy Ritchie, and was banned by MTV and VH1 after just one airing due to its graphic violence. Not to be deterred, Madonna released the video as a video single and it became the best-selling video single of all time. To promote the album, Madonna staged a much-publicised visit to the Late Show with David Letterman, her first full appearance on the show since her infamous 1994 visit. This time she surprised viewers by playing an acoustic version of "Don't Tell Me" on guitar, the first time she had played the instrument publicly since fronting the Breakfast Club and Emmy in the early 1980's. She would continue to incorporate her guitar-playing into each of her future tours. After staging small one-off club shows in both New York City and London (the later providing for her first-ever performance streamed live on the internet), Madonna opened the 2001 Grammy Awards with an energetic performance of "Music".

In 2001, Madonna embarked on the Drowned World Tour, her first tour in eight years. The concert tour was successful, was the subject of a television special in the US, and was released on DVD in November 2001 to coincide with the release of her second greatest hits album, GHV2. Unlike her previous compilation, GHV2 did not include any new songs, although clubs did receive multiple mega mixes for promotional play only. 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. Once again, she teamed up with Mirwais with string arrangement contributed by French musician, Michel Colombier, who had already collaborated on Music, a gospel choir, and prominent acoustic guitars. The music video for the first single, "American Life", caused controversy in the US, as it contained visceral scenes depicting war, explosions, and blood. The day before the video was to air on European television, Madonna pulled it and released instead an edited and much tamer version, which showed her singing in front of flags from around the world. The song 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. American Life produced three more singles, which all failed to chart in the U.S., although they became moderate hits around the world.

Later that year, Madonna performed a re-mixed version of her song "Hollywood", which was arranged by Stuart Price aka "Thin White Duke" (whom she later would work with again for her Confessions album) with Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, and Missy Elliot at the MTV Video Music Awards. The performance caused controversy as Madonna kissed both Spears and Aguilera during the performance, and resulted in tabloid press frenzy. That fall, Madonna provided guest vocals on Spears' single "Me Against the Music", which became a dance hit in the U.S. In an effort to boost sales of American Life, Madonna released Remixed & Revisited, a remix EP that included remixes and rock versions of songs from American Life as well as "Your Honesty", a previously unreleased song from the Bedtime Stories era. The EP did not perform well on the charts and peaked outside the top 100 on the US albums chart. During the American Life´, Madonna worked with fashion photographer Steven Klein in what was to become a photo and video installation entitled X-static Process that would tour in major art galleries around the world. These images were to be used for her Re-Invention Tour.

In 2004, Madonna embarked on The Re-Invention Tour, which featured fifty-six dates in the US, Canada, and Europe and became the highest-grossing tour of 2004, earning $125 million. Also in 2004, Madonna was involved in a brief legal battle with Warner Music Group, with whom she co-owned record label Maverick. The legal dispute ended with Warner Music Group buying Madonna's shares in the record label. In January 2005, Madonna performed a cover version of the John Lennon song "Imagine" on the televised U.S. aid concert "Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope", which raised money for the tsunami victims in Asia.

On July 2, 2005, Madonna took part in the historic, Live8 concerts. She performed three songs which were broadcast all over the world.

On August 16, 2005, her 47th birthday, Madonna was seriously injured after falling off a horse at Ashcombe House, her Wiltshire home. She suffered three cracked ribs, a broken collarbone, and a broken hand from her fall. Following her accident she filmed the video to her first single, "Hung Up," from her upcoming album "Confessions on a Dance Floor." At the time of filming the high-energy dance video, none of the broken bones had fully healed yet, and she relied heavily on painkillers to complete the video shoot.

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. Produced by Stuart Price, it reached number one in 41 countries and (according to Billboard, July 2006) has sold more than 9 million copies since its November 2005 release (over 1.5 million in the US). The album received the most positive reviews since 1998's Ray of Light, and was considered a return to form after the negative reception to American Life. It has produced two successful singles, "Hung Up", which featured a sample of the ABBA song "Gimme! Gimme! Gimme! (A Man After Midnight)", and "Sorry". "Hung Up" became Madonna's first single to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 since American Life and Me Against the Music in 2003. Worldwide, it surpassed "Music" and "Vogue" as the most successful single of her career. The follow-up single, "Sorry," became Madonna's twelfth number one in the UK. Madonna was thrilled to have the Pet Shop Boys remix "Sorry", even using elements from their version on the Confessions Tour later that year. A third single, "Get Together", reached the UK Top 10 and became her thirty-sixth number one dance hit in the U.S. (the most for any artist in Billboard history), but failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The fourth, and final single release from Confessions on a Dance Floor, is "Jump", due in October 2006.

Madonna's Confessions Tour, kicked off in late May 2006, with her having to create additional dates to keep up with demand. The tour became the highest grossing tour for a female artist of all time, grossing a reported $194.8 million. The record was previously held by Cher, whose nearly three year long Farewell tour grossed $192.5 million with 273 shows. Madonna's Confessions... grossed more than that amount in only 60 shows. However it should be noted that criticisms were made against this fact, due to the amount that was charged per ticket for the Confessions Tour. The higher ticket prices (ranging from £80 - £160 in the UK)gave Madonna a greater overall total in a smaller number of performances. The tour also had a global audience of 1.2 million. However, it also sparked controversy when she used religious symbols such as the crucifix and crown of thorns in her performance of "Live to Tell". The tour ended its 60-date run on September 21st 2006 in Tokyo. The show is to air on NBC, November 22, 2006. However, NBC announced that it has decided that they will not show the pictures of Madonna mounting a Crucifix.

In October 2006, Madonna flew to Malawi to help build an orphanage, which she also funded, as part of the Raising Malawi inititive. Upon media speculation of an impending adoption, Madonna's publicist denied the reports, only to confirm that Madonna was indeed adopting a one-year old Malawian orphan named, David. David's mother died in childbirth. David's father, unable to provide for his child, put the infant in an orphanage. Madonna spoke to David's father and promised to have the child return to Africa as he grew. Madonna also vowed that David would be made strongly aware of his roots. Madonna became the target of much scrutiny and criticism due to the adoption with some groups filing lawsuits to keep the child in Africa

Madonna's success in acting has been varied, but mostly heavily panned by critics. She was presented with a special Razzie award in the year 2000 as "Worst Actress of the Century".

In 1979, Madonna starred in A Certain Sacrifice, a low-budget film filmed long before she achieved widespread popularity as a successful recording artist. Its release in 1985 coincided in with the success of her second album Like a Virgin, and did not please Madonna who tried to prevent its release. A representative from Madonna offered to buy the rights of the film for $5000, which director Stephen Jon Lewicki refused. That same year Madonna appeared in two separate films. She made a cameo as a club singer in the film Vision Quest and garnered commercial and critical success in her first starring role in Susan Seidelman's film, Desperately Seeking Susan, which told the story of a housewife who is fascinated with a woman she only knows about by reading messages to and from her in the personals section of a New York City tabloid. It was a commercial success and grossed $27 million in the United States alone.[18] She appeared as Gloria Tatlock in the adventure drama film Shanghai Surprise (1986) with her ex-husband Sean Penn. The film did nothing to further her acting career, was dismissed by moviegoers, and received poor reviews by critics, with many criticizing her acting, calling it wooden and unbelievable. Subsequent films such as Who's That Girl? (1987) and Bloodhounds of Broadway (1989), based on short stories by Damon Runyon, failed to attract commercial and critical success.

In 1990, after a string of unsuccessful films, Madonna starred as Breathless Mahoney in the action film Dick Tracy, directed by Warren Beatty based on the popular Chester Gould's comic strip. She sang three Stephen Sondheim songs and played opposite histrionic Al Pacino as well as Warren Beatty. Although she received mostly positive reviews for her role, critics were quick to point out that her best-reviewed roles were ones where Madonna had played someone who is not unlike herself. In 1991, Woody Allen offered her a small role in Shadows and Fog as a trapeze artist opposite John Malkovich. The film was shot in black and white and was an hommage to German Expressionist cinema, backed by the music of Kurt Weill. The following year, Penny Marshall cast her in A League of Their Own opposite Tom Hanks, Geena Davis and Rosie O'Donnell. The film, which centered on a women's baseball team during World War II, earned Madonna good reviews from critics for her lightweight and comedic performance. Following the backlash of her sexual provocative book Sex and its companion album Erotica, Madonna starred in the 1993 erotic-thriller Body of Evidence with Willem Dafoe. The film was overwhelmingly panned by critics and performed poorly at the box office. Later that year she starred in Dangerous Game (aka Snake Eyes) by Abel Ferrara opposite Harvey Keitel and James Russo. The film revealed her as a more than able actress and was very well received in France, where French newspaper Libération dubbed her the fucked up Marilyn of the 90's. However, Dangerous Game was considered much too nihilistic and violent, and was released straight to home video in North America. In an attempt to improve her acting credentials, Madonna chose to take roles in independent films, first playing a singing telegram girl (again opposite Harvey Keitel) in Wayne Wang's Blue in the Face (1995) and as a witch in Four Rooms (1995). She also had a cameo as phone sex company owner in Spike Lee's film Girl 6 in 1996.

In 1996, Madonna starred as Eva Perón in the film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical Evita. The film marked the first time in America since her appearance in Desperately Seeking Susan that Madonna was critically praised for her acting skills in a starring role, even though some critics compared the film to a long music video, which required no further acting skills of Madonna than what she had already exhibited in her own videos[citation needed]. Madonna had campaigned for the role for nearly ten years and in December 1994, she wrote a four page, handwritten letter to director Alan Parker explaining that she would be perfect to play the role. Parker agreed and to prepare for the film Madonna took voice lessons to extend her range and researched the life of her character. In January 1997, she won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, but failed to receive a nomination at the Academy Awards, though the song "You Must Love Me" won the Oscar for Best Song. Both "You Must love Me" and "Don't Cry For Me Argentina" were hit singles.

Madonna's follow-up to Evita was yet another critically panned role as Abbie, a woman who decides to have a baby with her gay best friend, in the film The Next Best Thing (2000) directed by John Schlesinger. Some critics however were kinder: French magazine Telerama pointed out that the script was much too weak, and neither she or the other two male leads, Rupert Everett and Benjamin Bratt could save the film or a director who's been running out of inspiration for some time already.[citation needed] Swept Away followed in 2002, which was also critically panned. The film, a remake of an Italian film bearing the same name by Lina Wertmüller in 1975, was the first big screen collaboration between Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie. The film was mercilessly dished by everyone (It received seven Razzie Award nominations, winning five including Worst Actress for Madonna).

After 2002's James Bond film "Die Another Day" theme song, in late 2004, she provided the voice of Princess Selenia in the animated film Arthur and the Invisibles, set for release in January 2007.

In March 2006, Madonna stated in an interview that she had given up acting because she fears her acting reputation will condemn any film she is a part of. She has also expressed her frustration with the process of filmmaking, with the comment "I've been unlucky with some of my films because it's difficult for me to be a brushstroke in someone else's painting."

In 1991, Madonna released her first documentary, Truth or Dare (known as In Bed with Madonna outside the U.S.). The film, directed by Alek Keshishian, followed Madonna on her Blond Ambition world tour in support of her successful 1989 album Like a Prayer. The film featured black and white backstage scenes and live performances filmed in color. Truth or Dare was released in theatres worldwide, and became a box office hit, grossing more than $15 million in the U.S. alone.

Her second documentary, I'm Going to Tell You a Secret (2005), followed Madonna and her family on the Re-Invention World Tour in 2004. Directed by long-time collaborator Jonas Åkerlund, it premiered commercial free on MTV in the U.S. on October 21, 2005. Like her previous effort, the film includes behind the scenes footage as well as live performances, and was released on DVD June 20, 2006 with a bonus audio CD.

In 2001, Madonna starred in BMW's short film The Hire: Star from the series The Hire as part of a BMW marketing campaign. The short film, directed by husband Guy Ritchie, featured Madonna as an arrogant rock star. Madonna starred opposite Clive Owen, Michael Beattie, and Toru Tanaka Jr.

Madonna's background as a Catholic has had great significance in her life and career. She has cited her parents and upbringing as the major influences in her life and career. Her mother's death profoundly affected her, and she later stated that, had her mother lived, she might not have felt such a strong need to prove herself. Madonna's father, Tony, is a strict Italian Catholic who raised his family in an atmosphere of religious observance.

The name "Madonna" is very Catholic as it references The Virgin Mary, who, in Italy and in the Roman Catholic Church, is often referred to as "The Madonna". Given Madonna's rebellion against Catholic-based ideals of womanhood, some have found it ironic that she shares the same name as the ultimate symbol of the Catholic ideal of womanhood. Early in her career, many assumed that "Madonna" was a stage name that the singer had chosen for shock value.

In her music career, Madonna's Catholic background and relationship with her parents has been most strongly reflected in her 1989 album Like a Prayer. In Like a Prayer, Madonna moved away from the dance pop of her previous albums and toward more personal and reflective lyrics, featured songs directly related to her parents and her Catholic upbringing. The video for the title track contained overt Catholic symbolism, such as the stigmata. "Promise to Try" told of her sadness at the faded memory of her mother and her struggle to recall her, while "Oh Father" told of a strict and distant father who elicited fear in the singer as a child and defiance as she grew older. The video for "Oh Father" depicts Madonna in a confessional and her father kneeling and praying before a picture of his dead wife. The album ends with the track "Act of Contrition", which contains verses from the Catholic prayer of the same name.

Madonna has used the Catholic symbol of the crucifix throughout her career: as a fashion accessory in her early videos, in the church setting of her "Like a Prayer" video, and in the stage design of her "Confessions" tour. The rosary has also often been used in Madonna's career. In the early 1980s, she wore it around her neck as part of her performance costume. Later, in the music video for the song La Isla Bonita Madonna portrays a character who is praying the rosary.

Madonna's Italian heritage has occasionally been referenced in her work. The video to her first number one single, "Like a Virgin," was filmed in Venice, Italy, and features Madonna in iconic Venetian settings. The "Open Your Heart" video ends with Madonna dancing into the sunset with a young boy, while her elderly boss chases after her, yelling at her in Italian. In the "Papa Don't Preach" video, often described as partly autobiographical in content, her father is played by Italian American actor Danny Aiello, and Madonna wears a shirt with the slogan, "Italians Do It Better". The video for her Who's That Girl? Tour, titled Ciao Italia: Madonna Live from Italy, was filmed mainly in Turin, Italy. (In the Ciao Italia: Madonna Live from Italy video, Madonna performs the song Papa Don't Preach while a large portrait of the Pope appears on the screen behind her. Coincidentally, "Papa" is the Italian word for "Pope".) In her 2005 documentary I'm Going To Tell You a Secret, she jokingly states that she has "big, fat, Italian thighs." In film, she achieved a rare good review for her portrayal of the Italian American character Mae Mordabato in A League of Their Own.

While much of her career has seen rebellion against the Roman Catholic Church, Madonna had both of her children baptised in a Roman Catholic Church. As a result, Madonna has often offended many Catholics, including the head of the Catholic Church himself. In 1990, when Madonna toured Italy with the Blond Ambition Tour concert tour, the Pope encouraged citizens not to attend the concert, and as a result, Madonna was forced to cancel two shows due to poor ticket sales. The Pope accused Madonna of blasphemy against the Catholic Church (a crime in Italy), and attempted to have Madonna banned from stepping foot on Italian soil. In response, in a 1990 press conference in Italy, Madonna declared, "I am Italian American and proud of it." In an interview with Rolling Stone magazine, Madonna said that the Pope's reaction hurt, "because I'm Italian, you know", but in another Rolling Stone interview the same year stated that she had ceased to practice Catholicism because the Church "completely frowns on sex... except for procreation". In the summer of 2006, Madonna drew criticism from Vatican officials when she took her Confessions Tour to Rome. Vatican officials claimed that Madonna's performance while hanging off of a cross while wearing a crown of thorns was an open attack on Catholicism and should not be performed in the same city as the pope's residence. In the documentary Italians in America - Our Contribution, author Gay Talese relates Madonna's rebellion against the Catholic Church to her Italian ancestry. Talese claims that Madonna's paternal ancestors come from a region of Southern Italy with a long tradition of rebellion against the Catholic Church.

In 1988, city officials in the town of Pacentro, Italy, planned to construct a 13-foot statue of Madonna in a bustier. The statue was intended to commemorate the fact that some of Madonna's ancestors had lived in Pacentro. The mayor of the city and the Pope intervened and prevented the project from coming to fruition, citing concerns that a statue of Madonna in their city would corrupt the morals of their youth.

In 1985, Madonna commented that the first song to ever make a strong impression on her was "These Boots Are Made For Walkin'" by Nancy Sinatra and that it summed up her take-charge attitude. As a young woman, she attempted to broaden her taste in literature, art and music and during this time became interested in classical music. She noted that her favorite style was baroque, and loved Chopin because she liked his "feminine quality".

During her childhood, Madonna became fascinated by films and film stars, later saying, "I loved Carole Lombard and Judy Holliday and Marilyn Monroe. They were all incredibly funny...and I saw myself in girlishness, my knowingness and my innocence". Her "Material Girl" music video recreated Monroe's "Diamonds Are A Girl's Best Friend" number from the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, and she later studied the screwball comedies of the 1930s, particularly those of Lombard, in preparation for the Who's That Girl? film. The video for "Express Yourself" placed a femme fatale character alongside an androgynous figure in male attire, which was compared to Marlene Dietrich. The video for "Vogue" recreated the style of Hollywood glamour photographers, in particular Horst P. Horst, and imitated the poses of Marlene Dietrich, Carole Lombard and Rita Hayworth, while the lyrics referenced many of the stars who had inspired her. Among those mentioned was Bette Davis, described by Madonna in a Rolling Stone interview as an idol, along with Louise Brooks and Dita Parlo.

In late 1970s and early 1980s, Madonna had a relationship with Dan Gilroy who formed Breakfast Club with her. During the first half of the '80s; she also dated musician Stephen Bray, painter and graffiti artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, DJ and record producer Mark Kamins and musician Jellybean Benitez.

While filming the music video for her single "Material Girl" in 1985, Madonna began dating actor Sean Penn. The two were married later that year on Madonna's twenty-seventh birthday; the marriage lasted less than four years. Of her marriage to Penn, Madonna told Tatler, "I was completely obsessed with my career and not ready to be generous in any shape or form."

Madonna had a relationship with John F. Kennedy Jr. in 1988.[citation needed] After the divorce from Penn was made "official" in 1989, she began a relationship with Warren Beatty; whom she had met on the set of the film Dick Tracy. In late 1990, she dated briefly Lenny Kravitz. In 1990 she dated Tony Ward, a young model and porn star, who had previously starred in her music video for "Cherish" (1989) and "Justify My Love" (1990). In 1992, she had an eight-month relationship with rapper Vanilla Ice, who appeared later in her erotic book Sex. In 1992-1994 Madonna dated her bodyguard James Albright. In 1994, she had a relationship with Dennis Rodman for four months.

While walking in Central Park, Madonna met Carlos Leon, who became her personal trainer and lover. On October 14, 1996 she gave birth to the couple's child, a daughter, Lourdes Maria (Lola) Ciccone Leon.

In the late 1990s, Madonna began a relationship with English actor and filmmaker Andy Bird, and she briefly dated magician David Blaine.

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 John Ritchie, on August 11, 2000. As of October 2006, she was residing in Wiltshire, England with Ritchie and her children. Madonna, who refers to herself simply as "Mrs. Ritchie" on her personal letterhead, has undergone a transformation from Material Girl to family woman, as she told '"Tatler": "I don't need to drive around in flashy cars and I don't need to show off. I'm perfectly happy to go for walks every day for a month at my house in the countryside. That doesn't mean I can't have expensive tastes, like nice sheets on my bed, or enjoy architecture and pictures. But I do know what makes a healthy balance in life... a good marriage is a contest of generosity... Everyone needs to be stopped in their tracks by parenthood and marriage, otherwise you are just selfish satellites spinning in space."

On October 10, 2006, Madonna filed adoption papers for a Malawian baby boy named David Banda (renamed David Banda Mwale Ciccone Ritchie), born September 24, 2005, during her trip to an orphanage in Malawi. After visas were obtained for the child, Banda was flown out of Malawi on October 16. The adoption has raised public controversy about whether special treatment was given to Madonna because of her celebrity status, considering Malawian law normally requires one year of residence for adopting parents. Other adoption rights groups have noted that Madonna did not cut in line to adopt Banda, pointing out that only three visas were issued in 2005 for adopted children to leave Malawi.

Madonna has long been a gay icon. Many of her performances have incorporated aspects of "gay culture," perhaps the most famous example being her hit song "Vogue." In the 1980s, a time before most celebrities felt comfortable lending their support to AIDS charities, Madonna was one of the first major artists to speak out about the need for money for AIDS research. In 2003, Madonna received much publicity for her onstage kiss with Spears and Aguilera at the MTV Video Music Awards.

Since the late-1990s, Madonna has become a devotee of the Kabbalah Centre and a disciple of its controversial head Rabbi Philip Berg and his wife Karen. Madonna and husband Guy Ritchie attend Kabbalah classes and have been reported to have adopted a number of aspects of the movement associated with Judaism. The media has reported that Madonna has taken on the Biblical name of Esther, and has donated millions of dollars to Kabbalah Centres in London, New York, and Los Angeles. She no longer performs on Friday nights because it's the time when the Jewish Sabbath begins; wears a red string, and has visited Israel with members of the Kabbalah Centre to celebrate some of the Jewish holidays. She also studies personally with her own private-tutor, Rabbi Eitan Yardeni, whose wife Sarah Yardeni runs Madonna's favorite charitable project, "Spirituality for Kids," a subsidiary of the Kabbalah Centre. Madonna reportedly donated 21 million dollars towards a new Kabbalah school for children.

Controversy erupted again well before the release of her most recent album Confessions on a Dance Floor. Many Israeli rabbis condemned Madonna and the forthcoming song "Isaac" (tenth on its track listing) because they believed the song to be a tribute to Rabbi Isaac Luria, also known as Yitzhak Luria (1534-1572), one of the greatest Kabbalists of all time, and claimed that Jewish law forbids using a holy rabbi's name for profit. (Whether Jewish law actually forbids this, or the rabbis were simply uncomfortable with Madonna's song, is disputed). In interviews, Madonna had called this song: "The Binding of Isaac" and rumors spread that it was based on the major episode in the life of the Hebrew patriarch Isaac. Despite continued accusations that the song is about Isaac Luria, Madonna has repeatedly denied such accusations, claiming she could not think of a title for the song and, therefore, named it after Yitzhak (Isaac) Sinwani. In the song, Madonna sings with Sinwani, an Israeli singer, who is chanting a Yemenite Jewish song. Said Madonna: "The album isn't even out, so how could Jewish scholars in Israel know what my song is about? I don't know enough about Isaac Luria to write a song, though I've learned a bit in my studies."

Madonna has openly defended her Kabbalah studies by stating, for example:

I wouldn't say studying Kabbalah for eight years goes under the category or falls under the category of being a fad or a trend. Now there might be people who are interested in it because they think it's trendy, but I can assure you that studying Kabbalah is actually a very challenging thing to do. It requires a lot of work, a lot of reading, a lot of time, a lot of commitment and a lot of discipline.

Furthermore, Madonna said in a BBC interview that she believes Christianity is intolerant of questioning, whereas Kabbalah is not.

Madonna openly opposes United States President George W. Bush. She endorsed Wesley Clark's Democratic nomination for the 2004 United States presidential election in an impassioned letter to her fans, saying at the time that "the future I wish for my children is at risk." She also urged fans to see Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11.Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, with no Front-Cover Texts, and with no Back-Cover Texts.
Virtual Magic is a human knowledge database blog. Text Based On Information From Wikipedia, Under The GNU Free Documentation License. Copyright (c) 2007 Virtual Magic. Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.1 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation; with no Invariant Sections, no Front-Cover Texts and no Back-Cover Texts. A copy of the license is included in the section entitled "GNU Free Documentation License".

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home