Madonna is a living legend. Love her or hate her, she has definitely made her mark on the music scene, and has continued to take Hollywood by storm with the release of each album, and with every red carpet appearance she makes. She dominates every stage, not only with her incredible talent, but with the confidence that she exudes. Madonna is not afraid to make any statement, whether it be through her lyrics, body gestures, or through the clothes that she wears.
Her level of incredible confident talent doesn’t manifest without drawing inspiration from somewhere, and it’s easy to argue that Madonna was motivated and inspired to do great things as a result of coming from a troubled childhood. Let’s take a look at 20 surprising facts about Madonna’s childhood that everyone forgets.
20 She Has Five Siblings
Madonna came from a large family. Born to two parents that were deep rooted in acting careers, she was one of 5 children born to Silvio Ciccone and Madonna Fortin on the 16th of August in 1958. Coming from a large family meant that she was able to experience life both as a big sister, and as a younger sister, giving her perspective of all angles of family life.
19 She Lost Her Mother At A Young Age
She had her mother’s name, and that’s just the initial indication of how close Madonna and her mother would become in the 5 short years that they shared together. Her mother died of breast cancer and she still remembers watching the illness take over and her mother slowly fading away. This has haunted Madonna to this day and the pain of this loss is reflected in much of her music.
18 She Performed In Various Rock Bands
When Madonna moved to New York as a young girl, she barely had any money to her name. She explored various odd jobs, dedicated her time to her dancing, and began performing as a drummer, vocalist, and guitarist in multiple rock bands. She was part of the band “Breakfast Club”, as well as “Emmy”. She penned her first contract with Sire Records in 1982 which immediately launched her musical career. The rest, as they say, is history!
17 She Had A Scholarship With Alvin Ailey
According to Biography, it was during the year 1977 that Madonna received a six-week-scholarship to study with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. Considered to be one of the most recognized and highly esteemed modern-art studios across the nation, this was a true indication of Madonna’s dance abilities. It was during this time that she was introduced to Pearl Lang.
16 Her Father Married Their Housekeeper
Losing a mother at the age of 5 clearly had a massive impact on 5-year old Madonna. However, it became even more difficult for her to grasp the reality of this situation when just 2 years after her mother’s death, her father married the family’s housekeeper. Clearly not the most simple situation, this caused a lot of angst within Madonna and she began to rebel against her dad. She left the house shortly after he re- married, and her relationship with her father remains damaged to this day.
15 She Did Not Accept Her Father’s Remarriage
It’s not uncommon for anyone to push-back against the re-marriage of one their parents. It’s certainly a lot to take in at the tender age of 5. Many speculate that Madonna’s extreme difficulties stemmed from the fact that her housekeeper was the lover of choice. She refused to accept her father’s wife as a “family member”, and questions began to arise as to exactly when their relationship began…
14 She Was A Nude Model
Somehow this doesn’t seem shocking. Madonna has always maintained a positive body image and has frequently shown a lot of skin both on and off-stage. This all began back in 1977 when she had moved to New York and was trying to make ends meet. Among other side jobs, Madonna paid her rent by doing some nude art modeling, and those images are available for purchase today.
13 Religion Was Heavily Imposed On Her
Madonna’s parents were both devout Christians, and during an interview with People, she went so far as to call her mother a “religious zealot”. She declared that her parents took religion so seriously that it truly became their mandatory lifestyle and not just a belief system to aim towards. Religion was forced upon her, and living a life that was right by the rules of the church was insisted upon.
12 She Was Visited By Priests And Nuns
During her interview with People she went on to say that her “home was frequented by nuns and priests”, all of which were close family friends of her parents. Imagine how hard it would be to be growing up as a child in a home that was so rigidly enforcing religion that prominent religious figures regularly attended family dinners. It must have been strange for her to have priests and nuns casually spending time in her home, and essentially watching her every move.
11 She Turned Into A Rebel After Her Mother’s Death
Not shockingly, Madonna turned to rebellion as a form of expression shortly after her mother’s death. She immediately turned her back on her Christian upbringing, began to express her disapproval over her father’s new relationship, and began to skip school, make unfavorable clothing choices, and attended more parties regularly.
10 She Frequented Nightclubs
Madonna frequented night clubs – and not just the regular ones, either. She began to embrace everything that the church would abhor and frequently opted to attend nightclubs that targeted communities that were shunned by Catholicism. Her flare for rebellion lasted for quite some time, as she went from one party to another, spending much of her time in the club scene.
9 She Rejected Religion
Without her mother to impose religion upon her, and feeling betrayed by her father for his new relationship, there was nobody that was able to keep Madonna aligned with her religion. She stopped going to church and was quick to publicly make blasphemous comments. Anything to do with the church was rejected, and she remained dedicated to her newfound rebellious attitude.
8 She Was A Straight-A Student
Contrary to her rebellious ways at home, and on the social scene, Madonna was a straight-A student as a youngster. She was very studious, and dedicated much of her spare time to her studies, always aspiring to be at the top of her class. Clash Music reports that Madonna’s “first aspiration was to be a nun”, and although that didn’t quite work out, her perfect grades remained intact.
7 University Of Michigan Gave Her A Scholarship
With straight-A grades and signs of her ferocious tenacity already beginning to shine through, it’s not a surprise to hear that the University of Michigan offered Madonna a scholarship. It wasn’t just her grades that got her in though….Madonna received a dance scholarship, proving that even at a young age, her stage presence was already defined.
6 She Dropped Out Of College
Madonna attended the University of Michigan for two full years, during the period of 1975-1977. She successfully met the demands of the dance program and maintained her straight-A academic standing, but was left feeling like she wanted more. She dropped out of school and decided to put some miles between herself and her family by pursuing her dancing dreams in New York City.
5 She Was A Waitress
Aside from a bit of nude modeling, Madonna also took on some other part-time jobs that would have been much more widely accepted by her religious family. One of her odd-jobs included being a waitress at the Russian Tea Room. It’s hard to imagine that Madonna has ever had a hospitality – based job, given her current celebrity status.
4 She Moved To NY To Pursue Dancing
Madonna’s deep family issues were not the only reason she left Michigan for New York City. In fact, she moved to pursue dancing. Her love for this expressive form of art was a strong one, and she found solace in throwing herself into the dedicated and structured life of a dancer.
3 She Performed With Pearl Lang
Madonna performed with Pearl Lang, and anyone that knows anything about Modern Dance can testify to the fact that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Truly a visionary, Pearl Lang was a choreographer, teacher, and motivational inspiration to everyone in the world of dance. Madonna was taught by and subsequently performed with Pearl Lang, further demonstrating her skill-set in this area.
2 She Was Born In Michigan
Bay City, Michigan is the place that Madonna called home from birth until her early teenage years. According to an article featured in Famous People, Madonna attended St. Andrews School, followed by West Junior High, and Rochester Adams High School. She went on to enroll in the University of Michigan. Her entire childhood unfolded in this small urban area, before she abandoned her childhood home to pursue her dreams.
1 She Was A Tricky Child
We’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that would consider Madonna to be “innocent” in any way, and she herself has commented on the fact that she was always a pretty sophisticated child when it came to getting what she wants. Being the middle child in a large family, she described herself to People Magazine as being “the sissy of the family” who would often use her feminine charms to get whatever it is that she wanted.
Sources: The Famous People, Clash Music, E!News, TMZ, Biography