Name at birth: Madonna Louise CicconeMadonna used a mixture of talent, pulchritude and relentless self-promotion to become one of the most popular recording artists of the late 20th century. Born Madonna Ciccone and raised in a Catholic family in Michigan, she went to the University of Michigan before dropping out to move to New York City in 1978. She released her self-titled first album in 1983 in the guise of a streetwise pop ragamuffin, and over time she kept one step ahead of the game by jumping from persona to persona: dance club queen, balladeer, cowgirl, channeler of the Mysterious East, and aging Dietrich-style vamp. Over the years she released a string of hit albums, including Like a Virgin (1984, with the hit single "Material Girl" giving her a new nickname), Ray of Light (1998), Music (2000), American Life (2003), Confessions on a Dance Floor (2005) and Hard Candy (released in 2008, the year she turned 50). She has also acted in over a dozen movies, including Dick Tracy (1990, with Warren Beatty) and A League of Their Own (1992, with Rosie O'Donnell). No stranger to controversy, Madonna has long been a favorite of the tabloids on topics ranging from her racy videos and TV appearances to her sometimes-mystical religious beliefs to her marriages to actor Sean Penn (1985-89) and filmmaker Guy Ritchie (they married in 2000, and divorced in 2008). Her daughter Lourdes was born in October of 1996, fathered by Madonna's personal trainer, Carlos Leon. In August of 2000 Madonna and Ritchie had a son, Rocco. In October of 2006 they adopted a a motherless 13-month-old child, David Banda, from the African country of Malawi. She adopted a second child from Malawi, Chifundo "Mercy" James, in 2009. In 2014, the Guinness Book of World Records named Madonna the "best-selling female recording artist of all time," saying that she had sold more than 300 million albums in her career. Guinness also noted that "Madonna's earnings of $125 m (82 m) for the period from June 2012 to June 2013 were the highest annual earnings ever for a female pop star."
Madonna performed at halftime of the 2012 Super Bowl? She attended the University of Michigan on a dance scholarship? Her daughter Lourdes is named for the site where Bernadette Soubirous saw visions of the Virgin Mary? A fall from a horse in 2005 left Madonna with a broken collarbone and three cracked ribs.
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