Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone (born August 16, 1958) is an American pop singer, dancer and actress. Madonna emerged from the New York City club scene to become one of the most successful recording artists of the 1980s and 1990s. Her early work consisted mainly of dance pop music, which was often dismissed by critics despite its popularity. As her style evolved and matured, she earned respect and acclaim, culminating in her winning five Grammy Awards. Her reknown as a recording artist and performer led to a variety of acting roles and a film career, which has remained secondary to her music career. In 1992, Madonna also co-founded Maverick Records, which was sold to Warner Music Group in 2004.
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., reported in 2005 that she had achieved international sales in excess of 200 million albums. She is also the recipient of numerous awards for her music and videos and frequently referred to as 'the Queen of Pop' as well as one of the greatest pop icons.
Madonna Louise Veronica 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 Rochester Hills. Madonna's mother died of breast cancer at the age of 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." Her father later married the family housekeeper, Joan Gustafson, and had two children with her.
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 was a man named Christopher Flynn. In addition to mentoring Madonna in dance, Flynn provided Madonna with her first exposure to gay discotheques, 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 from 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 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. D.J. and record producer Mark Kamins was sufficiently impressed by her demo recordings to bring them to the attention of Sire Records founder Seymour Stein.
While filming the music video for her single "Material Girl," Madonna began dating actor Sean Penn, who was well known for his role in the popular film Fast Times at Ridgemont High. The two were married later that year on Madonna's twenty-seventh birthday; the marriage lasted less than four years, reportedly caused by Penn's aggressive behaviour and Madonna's secret relationship with John F. Kennedy, Jr. Of her marriage to Penn, Madonna told Tatler, "I was completely obssessed with my career and not ready to be generous in any shape or form."
After the divorce from Penn was made official in 1989, Madonna began a relationship with actor Warren Beatty, whom she had met on the set of the film Dick Tracy. The relationship did not last long and she was soon dating Tony Ward, a young model and porn star, who had previously starred in her music video for "Cherish" (1989). In 1992, Madonna briefly dated rapper Vanilla Ice, who appeared in her erotic book Sex. Madonna also dated Dennis Rodman during the mid nineties. In 1994, 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. After dating for nearly three years, Madonna and Leon ended their relationship, reportedly due to Leon's inability to cope with Madonna's fame.
On December 22, 2000, Madonna married British director Guy Ritchie, whom she had met through mutual friends Sting and his wife Trudie Styler. Five months prior to their marriage, Madonna gave birth to a son, Rocco, on August 11, 2000. She currently resides in an English estate in Los Angeles, CA with Ritchie and her children.