Born in 1958 in Bay City, Michigan with the official name of Madonna Louise Ciccone, Madonna was the first daughter of Madonna and Silvio Anthony “Tony” Ciccone. She was nicknamed Nonno to avoid confusion with the elder Madonna, who was of French Canadian descent. Tony was a first-generation Italian American whose parents immigrated from Pacentro, Italy.
Her mother’s early and sudden death affected the young Madonna deeply. She has stated that is because of her mother’s death that she is how she is today. Specifically, she feels that she must have control over everything and can’t loosen up because of her sense of powerlessness over her mother’s death.
Madonna’s father put her in classical piano lessons, but she later convinced him to allow her to take ballet lessons. She later attended Rochester Adams High School, where she became a straight-A student and a member of the cheerleading squad. After graduating, she received a dance scholarship to the University of Michigan
In 1978, Madonna dropped out of college and relocated to New York City to pursue stardom. For years, she struggled to make it big while doing odd jobs and living in small apartments. She did nude art modeling and waitressing.
She even worked at a Dunkin’ Donuts to support herself. She danced for dance companies, formed the punk band Breakfast Club with one boyfriend and the rock group Emmy with another boyfriend, and spent a brief amount of time in France working as a showgirl.
At the time of the snaps collected here, she wasn’t famous yet. The pictures were taken by fashion photographer Michael McDonnell who randomly spotted a 20-year-old Madonna sitting on a stool in the hallway of his building and, well, he was mesmerized by her.
Together they worked on a number of photoshoots for the next 8 months. As you’ll see in these pictures, during that time Madonna switched her style by cutting her hair short and dying it black.
In 1982, Madonna had her first big break with “Everybody,” which lit up New York City’s dance floors. She then met John “Jellybean” Benitiez, a deejay who she dated for two years and who would help her produce “Holiday,” which became her first big national hit and lead to her 1984 appearance on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand.
It was her exuberant and confident yet playful appearance on American Bandstand that finally gave Madonna what she wanted: the road to being a worldwide pop superstar.
At MTV’s very first Video Music Awards, she performed her new song “Like a Virgin” to promote her upcoming album of the same name. Performing on top of a giant wedding cake and writhing around on the floor while dressed in a wedding dress fitted with a buster, she became a national sensation. She also caused parental and religious outrage, who thought her blatant displays of sexuality rather offensive. Either way, she would soon become the star that he had always dreamed of.
(Photo credit: Michael McDonnell / Archive Photos / Getty Images / Madonna: Biography of the World’s Greatest Pop Singer by Karen Lac).