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“From Material Girl to Maternity Girl” : Biography

Madonna - Biography / May 1997

Will motherhood change Madonna?

Is it possible there’s anything left to know about Madonna? from the time she arrived in Manhattan with $35 in her pocket, a fresh-checked daughter of the Midwest, to her most recent reincarnation as Material Girl, we’ve seen the tramp and vamp, brassy and bossy, the naughty and nurturing. She’s exposed us – literally – to almost every inch of her body, giving new meaning to the phrase “naked ambition.” She singlehandedly made cone-shaped bras a fashion statement and accessorized with everything from dog collars to rosaries to nubile young men. She has very publicaly – and enthusiastically – done things with a water bottle that are surely banned in Boston, and asked David Letterman (on air) to smell her panties.

Then, in a totally different mood and appearance, she’s confided her most private, poignant history (“Losing my mother at a very young age was a devastating experience”) to another interviewer. And let’s not forget — as if we could — last year’s heavily chronicled pregnancy, culminating in the most publicized star delivery since Lucille Ball produced Little Ricky. We even know what she supposedly said as she was wheeled off to the delivery room (“Good-bye everyone. I’m going to get my nose job now”).

Then, after the birth on October 14 of little Lourdes Maria Ciccone Leon, Madonna became a serene, devoted mother, telling interviewers about her breast-feeding experiences and rhapsodizing about how, when her child looks at her with recognition, “It’s the most incredible thing in the world.” At the same time, her biggest motion picture to date, Evita, sailed into theaters nationwide, drawing a more traditional audience than might have lined up to see her in the past.

Serious mom. mainstream movie star — is there anything else left to discover about this woman described by Norman Mailer as “our greatest living female artist,” by her brother Martin as “very calculated,” and by herself as “my own work of art”?

How alma this? She often dreams about her teeth falling out (paging Dr. Freud). Or: While she may seem as in tune with Vatican teachings as, say, Henry VIII, she still goes to church and lights candles. She also plans to baptize her daughter. Lourdes (named after a village of religious miracles), as a Catholic. Or: This woman who has made sin and sex her personal calling card, who has been a conspicuous public collector of “boy toys,” who radiates cheekiness, has confessed to being just an “incurable romantic” at heart. Huh?

And there are at least a few things left to find out.

Beginning with her childhood. It seems, for instance, that Ms. Anything Goes was once Little Miss Homemaker, baking cakes in her tiny child’s oven and then selling her wares in front of the house. Although on second thought, maybe that just shows she was a shrewd businesswoman even then, back in Pontiac, Michigan.

Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone was born on August 16, 1958, the third child, after older brothers Anthony and Martin, of a conservative Catholic family. Her father, Silvio (known as Tony), was an automotive engineer who stressed church attendance, hard work at school, and no television. Her mother, a beauty from Bay City named Madonna Fortin, bestowed her own unusual name on her first daughter. (Later, talking about her name and her career, Madonna said, “How could I have been anything else but what I am, having been named Madonna? I would either have ended up a nun or this.”)

Madonna - Biography / May 1997

Madonna’s mother went on to produce three more children — Paula, Christopher. and Melanie — before dying of breast cancer at the age of 30. Madonna, then nicknamed Nonnie, was six, and it was the formative event in her life.