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    Singer/Actress

    Height:
    5' 4˝" (1.64 m)

    Random Fact:
    Her mother died of breast cancer on December 1st, 1963


    Biography

    Madonna (Madonna Louise Ciccone),
    b. Detroit, Michigan, 1958

    "People think being a star is about being fabulous, having your picture taken all the time, going to parties in limousines, having everyone worship and adore you, being rich, rich, rich ... having it all. And you know what? They're absolutely right." - Madonna

    Imagine that you are watching something that especially moves you—your two-year-old child eating profiteroles; Joe Montana moving down the field; dawn at the Canyon de Chelly; or the song that takes you back to a magical moment, whatever. Your commution with this spectacle is suddenly ruptured by what we will call a commercial break. This is all the more disturbing in that you did not know that what you were watching (the medium) was subject to such intrusions. You did not know the techology was yet available to come between you and the entire air and sky at Canyon de Chelly. But "they" have managed it, and the ad zips up every emotion. In that disaster, the ad—I suggest— would be the insolent, in-your-face "attitude" of Ms. Ciccone. There is no need for a product. There is nothing in Madonna to be advertised, except for her ironic, deflecting contempt. She is an ad for advertising; she is the famousness of mediocrity and a fit vehicle for an unusual kind of plot-killing movie—one in which photography and surface replace character and depth.

    You know the argument: guns, for example, are lifeless things that only serve those who use them—guns may dispose of would-be rapists and murderers; guns permit the animals that provide meat to be killed swiftly; guns allow the exercise and pleasure of hunting-, and armaments manufacturers build schools and hospitals. You may get a bullet in the head but hey, the thoughtful mr armament manufacturer has built you a hospital to recover in.

    Similarly, moving images have been a field for the dreams of of Ozu, Hawks, Ophuls, etc. Photography has brought into being Lartigue, Ansel Adams, etc. But in addition, movie and photography are advertising, fashion spreads, and Madonna and Truth or Dare (91, Alek Keshishian).

    There is no going back, and no way of not wondering whether somewhere along the way wrong paths have been taken. I am reminded of the image of Warren Beatty in Truth or Dare, in dark glasses, trying to edge away, trying to defy the camera with nothingness, and eventually marveling that anyone could suppose this Madonna has any life "off" camera. It is one of the great tragic images in modern film, not least because Mr. Beatty has evidently recognized the horrendous question, what is he doing there? And what are we doing watching?

    Perhaps a case can be made for Madonna as singer and dancer. But as an actress, she is the person who got out of the empty car—I speak as someone who saw her on stage in David Mamet's Speed-the-Plow (where it was possible to lose sight and thought of her even as she walked across stage). But she hardly needs talent, so great is her "artistic integrity," and there are those ready to call her satire and her indifference the most audacious strokes of Dada. She has her defenders, and I suspect she loathes them even more than she scorns her enemies. She is disappointed about something, and hugely driven by resentment.

    She appeared in A Certain Sacrifice (85, Stephen John Lewicki); Desperately Seeking Susan (85, Susan Seidelman); and Vision Quest (85, Howard Brookner). She did a song for At Close Range (86, James Foley), and she appeared in Shanghai Surprise (86, Jim Goddard)—both of which involved Sean Penn, to whom, briefly, she was married. She appeared in Who's That Girl? (87, Foley); Bloodhound of Broadway (89, Brookner); Dick Tracy (90, Beatty); Shadows and Fog (91, Woody Allen); and—seemingly furious that Sharon Stone has so effortlessly mocked and surpassed her in Basic Instinct—in Body of Evidence (93, Uli Edel); as an actress in Dangerous Game (93, Abel Ferrara).

    The burden did not lighten: she made appearances in Blue in the Face (95, Wayne Wang); Four Rooms (95, Allison Anders); Girl 6 (96, Spike Lee); and then all the ads said she was Evita (96, Alan Parker)—no matter that she managed hardly any emotional involvement, and again seemed incapable of understanding the nature of acting. Still, nothing before had been as fatuous as The Next Best Thing (00, John Schlesinger). Since then—as you may have heard—she has had a child with her new husband, the English director and public educated yet professional Cockney Guy Ritchie. Cross your fingers for the babe and ignore her siblings— Star (01, Ritchie) and Love, Sex, Drugs & Money (02, Ritchie).


    Music

    "I know I'm not the greatest singer or dancer, but that doesn't interest me, I'm interested in being provocative and pushing people's buttons." - Madonna

    One of the most popular teenage idols of the eighties, Madonna's mix of self-assertion and coquetry won her a following of millions of young women (the 'wanna-bes') and caused heated debate among their feminist elders. Having made her musical mark through the use of current disco styles, by the late eighties Madonna was seeking to develop a career in films, as a contemporary equivalent to Marilyn Monroe (which she didn't even come close to achieving).

    Originally intending to become a dancer, she won a scholarship to the University of Michigan, moving to New York in 1978 and appearing with the modern-dance companies of Alvin Alley and Pearl Lange. After a brief period in Paris performing in the stage musical Born to Be Alive, Madonna turned to music, playing drums and singing with New York rock bands Breakfast Club and Emmy with Steve Bray, who co-wrote some of her later recordings.

    Signing to Sire in 1982, she cut Everybody and the Reggie Lucas-produced Burning Up in the current disco mode before the John 'Jellybean' Benitez-produced Holiday was first a dance-floor hit and then entered the Top Twenty in 1983. It was taken from the eponymous first album which included further hits in Borderline and Lucky Star (1984).

    The title track of the Nile Rodgers-produced Like a Virgin (1985) introduced Madonna's sex-kitten image and went straight to No. 1, as did the next two singles, Material Girl and Crazy for You, from the soundtrack of Vision Quest. Into the Groove (1985) was the year's definitive party record but Madonna was also adding other dimensions to both her image and her music (Angel, Dress You Up, 1985), and becoming an international star. In 1985, she also had a critically acclaimed screen role in Desperately Seeking Susan.

    True Blue (1986) was a best-seller in twenty-five countries; it too produced several hit singles, including Open Your Heart, Live to Tell, the defiant Papa Don't Preach (whose tale of teenage pregnancy cause widespread controversy), and the determinedly romantic La Isia Bonita. In 1986, the year her every move made news in the world's sensationalist press, she starred in the poorly received Shanghai Surprise with her husband Sean Penn. The film was produced by George Harrison Madonna's progress continued into 1987 with a triumphant world tour, a zany comedy role in the film Who's That Girl, and hits with its title song, Causing a Commotion (written with Bray) and The Look of Love, co-written with producer Patrick Leonard. In 1989 she returned with Like a Prayer whose controversial video for the title track (accused of sacrilege) caused Coca-Cola to withdraw its advertising contract with the artist. Nevertheless that song, Express Yourself and Cherish were massive international hits.

    In 1990, she starred with Warren Beatty in the blockbuster movie Dick Tracy. Her Blond Ambition tour was documented in the movie, Truth Or Dare. Among her hits of the early 90s were Vogue, devoted to a short-lived dance craze, Hanky Panky, Justify My Love (co-written with Lenny Kravitz), Rescue Me, and This Used To Be My Playground.

    In 1992 Madonna released Sex, an expensive soft-core pornographic book that featured hundreds of erotic photographs of herself, several models, and other celebrities. Sex received scathing reviews and enormous negative publicity. The accompanying album, Erotica, was her first album since her debut not to generate a number 1 US, although the album did sell over two million copies. Bedtime Stories, released in 1994 contained her biggest hit, Take a Bow, which spent seven weeks at number one. A compilation of her slower material, Something To Remember was released the following year.

    Madonna portrayed Eva Peron in the 1996 film version of Evita. As the filming completed, Madonna announced she was pregnant and her daughter, Lourdes, was born late in 1996. The soundtrack for Evita, contained two hits, a dance remix of Don't Cry for Me Argentina and the newly written You Must Love Me.

    1998's Ray Of Light was a collaboration with producer William Orbit. The album generated a number of worldwide hits, including Frozen, Ray Of Light, Drowned World (Substitute For Love), The Power Of Good-bye, and Nothing Really Matters. Another Madonna starred movie, The Next Best Thing, co-written and co-produced by Madonna and Orbit, was released. It featured her new single, a reworking of Don McLean's classic American Pie. She worked with Orbit and French dance producer Mirwais on her next collection, Music.

    Shortly before the release of the album, Madonna gave birth to her second child, Rocco. On 22 December, she married the UK film director Guy Ritchie in Scotland.


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