Madonna is one of the most studied and beloved musical artists of all time. This pop queen and cultural icon built a legacy in entertainment that is sure to stand the test of time. Madonna is only 5′ 5″ tall, but her alter ego is larger than life.
Although most fans are well acquainted with her hit songs, such as “Like a Virgin,” “Like a Prayer,” and “Material Girl,” an impressive career in films such as Evita and Desperately Seeking Susan, and status as a fashion legend and ultimate material girl, there are still more things than you can learn about Madonna if you dig a little deeper into her life.
Here are 41 of the most interesting facts about this global entertainment stalwart sometimes referred to as “the material girl”.
Madonna’s Early Life
Madonna Louise Ciccone, the singer, songwriter, recording artist, and sometimes-actress was born to Tony and Madonna Louise Ciccone on August 16, 1958, in Bay City, Michigan. From humble beginnings, she is now known to many as the greatest pop artist of all time.
Madonna Was a Cheerleader
Madonna most likely learned a lot of her patented dance moves performing on the cheer team at Rochester Adams High School.
Fired from Dunkin’ Donuts
Madonna worked at Dunkin’ Donuts while trying to make ends meet as a dancer in New York City, however, she reportedly lost her job after she squirted jelly at a customer.
Children’s Book Author
Madonna has stretched her creativity beyond entertainment, writing over 20 children’s books since her first publication, The English Roses, in 2003.
Fear of Thunder
Madonna said that she suffers from brontophobia, the fear of thunder and lightning.
Famous Distant Relatives
According to a recent ancestry study, Madonna’s list of famous distant relatives includes Celine Dion, Mark Wahlberg, and Gwen Stefani.
Missed Role on Bodyguard
While it is hard to imagine anyone but Whitney Houston starring opposite Kevin Costner in The Bodyguard, Madonna actually had a failed bid to win the role.
Close Relationship with Gwyneth Paltrow
While the relationship between Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow has been well documented, most people do not know that Paltrow was actually the Maid of Honor at Madonna’s 2000 wedding to Guy Ritchie.
Madonna has had a famously wide array of romantic relationships, including an eight-month stint with rapper Vanilla Ice.
It was rumored that the pop star had a romantic relationship with Michael Jackson as well, however, the couple insisted that they just had a great friendship even though they did not always get along.
She has been married two times, first to Sean Penn from 1985-1989, then to director Guy Ritchie from 2000-2008.
Madonna’s childhood nickname was Little Nonnie, to differentiate her from her mother, bearing the same name of Madonna Louise Ciccone, formerly Fortin. Her mother passed away when Madonna was only 5 years old from a battle with breast cancer.
Madonna claims to stay in shape thanks to her strict vegetarian diet and her commitment to working out every day.
No Star for Her
Madonna turned down her chance to have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame after receiving a nomination in 1990.
Madonna Songs and Albums that Made Her Famous
Everyone from across many decades and around the world knows many of Madonna’s hit songs that were responsible for skyrocketing her to the tops of many charts. After signing with Sire Records, she soon released “Holiday” in 1983.
Many of her songs were considered risque during the time, though other songs showed the innocence of a versatile artist, such as “True Blue,” “Justify My Love,” and “Ray of Light.”
Madonna’s hit albums include Like a Virgin, Confessions on a Dance Floor, True Blue, Ray of Light, MDNA, Hard Candy, and many more.
Madonna’s top songs, including some of Madonna’s number one songs on the Billboard Hot 100, include “Like a Virgin,” “Like a Prayer,” “Vogue,” “Justify My Love,” and “Who’s That Girl.”
Although she has aged over the years, Madonna continues to release music. In 2015 she released her album Rebel Heart, which contained collaborations with several other popular artists like the song “Bitch I am Madonna” with pop sensation Nicki Minaj. This album was released under her own entertainment label, Maverick, which she started in 1992.
Madonna’s Awards and Honors
Madonna’s pop star status has granted her many honors as she set the stages everywhere on fire, such as when she performed “Like a Virgin” for the MTV Video Music Awards in 1984.
She also hit the Billboard Hot 100 chart as the recording artist with the most Top 10 Singles until 2020, when Drake took her place.
She is known to have set records right and left, even breaking her own record as the highest-grossing concert tour for a female artist for her Confessions Tour in 2006, then breaking it two years later with the Sticky and Sweet tour in 2008.
She won a Golden Globe for her work on the movie Evita as Best Actress in a Musical or Comedy.
Has Madonna won a grammy? She has in fact won several. Madonna has received 28 Grammy Awards nominations and has won seven of them. The pop star was also inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008.
Founded Two Bands
When trying to make her name as a musical artist, Madonna founded two separate bands while living in New York City.
She left the band Breakfast Club with her new boyfriend Stephen Bray and formed another band, Emmy.
It was during the time that she left the band that was signed with Sire Records as a solo artist.
Madonna has been a follower of the Kabbalah way of life since 2004 when she dedicated herself to the ancient Jewish tradition.
Opened a Children’s Hospital
The philanthropist opened the Mercy James Institute for Pediatric Surgery and Intensive Care in Blantyre, Malawi in 2017, naming the center after her daughter.
Despite earning a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan, Madonna dropped out of school in 1977, moving from Ann Arbor to New York City to pursue her career goals in the entertainment industry.
Wine in Her Honor
Madonna’s father, Tony Ciccone, launched a winery in Suttons Bay, Michigan, selling a line of vintages named after his famous daughter.
Daughter’s Name Origins
Madonna’s eldest daughter Lourdes is named after the city in France, a location in which the Virgin Mary once appeared.
Madonna has often said that she has OCD tendencies, preferring things to be a certain way, particularly while on tour.
Madonna appointed musical artist Sting to be the godfather of her son Rocco, a child she shares with her ex-husband Guy Ritchie.
Love Affair with Malawi
Madonna has a love affair with the African country Malawi, adopting four children from there: David, Mercy, Stelle, and Estere.
While everyone knows that Madonna is a true fashionista, she took this love for style another step further, designing her own clothing line for British retailer H&M.
Child of Immigrants
Madonna is the child of immigrants from Pacentro, Italy, with her mother also boasting a diverse French-Canadian ancestry.
Veronica Confirmation Name
Upon being confirmed in the Catholic Church in 1966, Madonna adopted Veronica as her confirmation name.
Making it in New York City
After moving to New York City as a young adult, Madonna took classes at the famous Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater before landing a gig at the Pearl Lang Dance Theater.
Lived in a Synagogue
Madonna has had some interesting living arrangements over the years, including camping out with her boyfriend Dan Gilroy in an abandoned synagogue in Corona, Queens. It was with Gilroy that she performed in one of her first bands, Breakfast Club, along with a few other members.
Beauty and Brains
Madonna is more than just a beautiful face, reportedly boasting an IQ of 140.
Said No to Catwoman
Madonna was offered the role of Catwoman in the 1992 hit film Batman Returns, making way for Michelle Pfeiffer to star in the movie instead.
Halftime Super Power
Madonna’s legendary Super Bowl halftime performance in 2012 garnered 114 million total viewers, more than the actual game between the New York Giants and the New England Patriots.
Not Known for Culinary Skills
Madonna’s brother Christopher jokes that the only thing that his sister can cook up in the kitchen is Rice Krispie treats.
Feud with Kevin Costner
After calling one of her performances “neat,” Madonna publicly criticized Kevin Costner for his choice of words.
Guinness World Records Holder
One of Madonna’s most interesting achievements is her Guinness World Records for the most costume changes in a movie for her role as Eva Perón in Evita, clocking in at 85 changes.
Not Stopping Anytime Soon
Even after hitting age 60, Madonna has no plans of slowing down, saying that she will only retire when she runs out of ideas to stay creative.
Madonna suffered from the dangerous prenatal condition of placenta previa when pregnant with her son Rocco.
Species Named After Her
The Echiniscus Madonna species, commonly known as the Water Bear, is named in honor of Madonna.
$5 Million Pepsi Endorsement Deal…Almost
Madonna once signed a deal with Pepsi after the release of her “Like a Prayer” music video aired in 1989, however, because of a protest about the controversy over the video, the deal was eventually canceled and the commercial never aired.
Madonna as an Actress
Although most known for her number one hit songs and albums, Madonna has also been a successful actress in many popular films such as, Desperately Seeking Susan, Evita, Shanghai Surprise, Dick Tracy, and more.
She also reportedly made her debut on Broadway in 1998 in David Mamet’s play Speed-the-Plow where she played Karen.
The Pope Once Campaigned for Individuals Not to Attend Her Concerts
During her Blond Ambition World Tour in 1990, Pope John Paul II pleaded with other Christians not to attend her concerts due to her risqué behavior on stage.