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Thursday, 28 February, 2002, 16:48 GMT
Madonna, queen of reinvention
Madonna with daughter Lourdes
The material girl is now maternal woman
Pop star Madonna, who is to star in London's West End , had her first UK hit record 18 years ago with Holiday. BBC News Online takes a look back at her career, both as a singer and actress.

That the 42-year old star can still sell-out six shows at London's Earls Court within a day is a sign of the hold she has on her British fans.

Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone, was born in Bay City, Michigan, US, on 16 August 1958.

The world-famous blonde was a dark-haired child.

Catholic

After her mother died of breast cancer, Madonna's car engineer father raised his six children himself - the hard way.

A strict Catholic disciplinarian, he reportedly refused even to let his kids watch TV.

Madonna 1984
Bras and bangles did once seem hip
Mr Ciccone famously disapproved of Madonna's later reinventions, particularly when her 1989 Like a Prayer video, with its burning crosses, brought condemnation from the Vatican.

Dance was her first love and she went to New York to study with choreographer Alvin Ailey in 1978, taking dubious modelling jobs to pay the bills.

After a spell in France with disco star Patrick Hernandez, she played drums and sang with the Breakfast Club and Emmy.

Already on her way to becoming a sex goddess she bleached her dark hair and modelled herself on sirens like Marilyn Monroe and Marlene Dietrich at their most provocative.

The material girl was born and she had her first mainstream pop success with Holiday in 1984.

Thanks to Madonna, the 80s became a time when a huge diamante cross could be worn with a bra and bangles.

Madonna
Remember when? Madonna 1986

A stream of catchy hits like Crazy For You, Into The Groove and Dress You Up, all coupled with headline grabbing videos marked her out as not just a star but one with a brilliant knack for publicity.

Her screen career on the other hand was less meteoric.

The forgettable thriller A Certain Sacrifice was released in 1979 and sank without a trace.

Divorce

Desperately Seeking Susan came out in 1985 and was very successful, but Shanghai Surprise, which she made with her now former husband, actor Sean Penn, did not do as well.

The couple divorced in 1989.

Madonna
Madonna really lives her Evita role
Her unmistakable genius for reinvention made for perfect casting to portray the changing faces of Argentine heroine Eva Peron.

Madonna won a Golden Globe for her performance in Evita, but missed out on an Oscar nomination.

By the 90s Madonna's reputation as a strong businesswoman, in control of her own career, was firmly established.

She deftly managed the release of yet more hits like Vogue and Justify My Love, but also produced books like the graphically erotic photobook Sex and documentaries about her life like In Bed With Madonna.

But she turned a corner in 1994 with Bedtime Stories, a song co-written with Björk.

Madonna
Madonna's 1996 incarnation
By 1997 she had the critics eating out of her hand with the William Orbit-produced spirituality-with-beats fest Ray of Light.

Her album Music confirms that the days when Madonna was dismissed as pop fluff are well and truly over.

Her most publicised friendship is with the British actor Rupert Everett, who co-stared with Madonna in her film The Next Best Thing, which was released to pretty poor reviews in 2000.

She also knows pop singer Sting's wife, Trudie Styler, who is said to have introduced her to husband Guy Ritchie.

Madonna had her first child, Lourdes, with fitness trainer Carlos Leon in 1996.

And British director Ritchie - famous for Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, is the father to Rocco, born in August 2000.

Baptism

Madonna and Ritchie set up home in London and in December 2000 had a country wedding in Scotland, managing to avoid press intrusion on their private ceremony.

Shortly before there had been a private baptism for their son Rocco at Dornoch Cathedral.

Madonna 2001
Madonna sports a kilt on her Drowned World tour
But anyone who thought that Madonna would now reinvent herself as a stay-at-home wife was soon confounded.

On 9 June 2001 Madonna started her Drowned World tour in Barcelona.

Critics called it the most spectacular stage show of her career, featuring giant screens, dancers, highwire stunts, an oversized bed and a mechanical bull.

Her greatest hits album was bought by thousands of fans after its release last last year, and at 43, there is every sign that the Queen of Pop will not relinquish her crown without a fight.

Ever the self-publicist, Madonna presented the controversial Turner Art Prize last December to Martin Creed, for The Lights Going On and Off.

And it seems she is still keen to prove herself as an actress.

No doubt the critics will be out in force to see if she can manage it.

See also:

28 Feb 02 | Arts
Madonna to star in West End
30 Jan 02 | Showbiz
Madonna toasts star photographer
04 Mar 00 | Tom Brook
Madonna battles the critics
23 Nov 01 | Showbiz
Madonna 'angry' over Morton book
10 Dec 01 | Arts
Creed lights up Turner prize
27 Aug 00 | Entertainment
Madonna's chart-topping Music
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