The Tragic Real-Life Story of Madonna, Hollywood’s Ever-Changing Material Girl

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A Deeper Look Into Madonna’s Tragic Life

Can you believe Madonna has been the Queen of Pop for over 40 years? The “Material Girl” constantly reinvents herself and keeps up with the latest music trends and fashion Vogues. So, join us as we “express ourselves,” “justify our love,” and “celebrate” the most iconic female recording artist of all time. Along the way, we’ll discover how Madonna overcame many tragedies.

Little Nonnie

Madonna’s real name is Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone. She was born in Bay City, Michigan, on August 16th, 1958. Her father was Silvio Anthony “Tony” Ciccone — an engineer designer for Chrysler and General Motors. Her mother was Madonna Louise. Since Madonna shared her mother’s name, her family called her “Little Nonnie.”

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Her mother was of French-Canadian descent, while her paternal grandparents — Gaetano Ciccone and Michelina Dijulio — came from one of Italy’s most beautiful villages, Pacentro. Little Nonnie (pictured, middle) had two older brothers, Anthony and Martin. She also had three younger siblings named Paula, Christopher, and Melanie.

Early Tragedy

Devastatingly, Madonna’s mother passed away from breast cancer on December 1st, 1963. She was just 30 years old. Poor Tony, Little Nonnie, and her siblings watched as their mom slowly wasted away over the last year of her life. Her mother’s passing had a massive impact on the five-year-old, and Madonna later said she’d be a different person if her mom had lived.

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Tony remarried just three years later. Feeling alone, empty, abandoned — and terrified her dad would also be taken from her — Madonna became close with her grandmother, Michelina.

High School Nerd

Surprisingly, Madonna described herself as being quiet and nerdy at school. She got straight A’s in high school and supposedly has an IQ of 140. However, the rebellious cheerleader (pictured, middle) performed cartwheels in the school hallways, dangled from the monkey bars during recess, and pulled up her skirt during class to show boys her underwear!

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A vegetarian since she was 15, Madonna explained that growing up in Northern Michigan, she studied hard as you had to “if you wanted to get out of the small town and be somebody.”

I Love New York

Madonna attended the University of Michigan on a dance scholarship but flunked out to pursue a career in music. In 1978, while Debbie Harry, Blondie, The Ramones, and Talking Heads were rocking CBGB’s and the New York music scene, Madonna arrived in the Big Apple with just $35 in her pocket. She said, “It was the bravest thing I’d ever done.”

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She worked as a waitress in Dunkin’ Donuts, but her low wage meant she posed for adult magazines, getting paid as little as $25 a session.