Rags to Riches: The Madonna Story You Never Knew

By Jack Ripley | February 14, 2024

Madonna Moved to New York To Become a Dancer, 1978

Welcome to a visual journey of the Material Girl! From her religious start in Michigan, to the gritty streets of New York City, to the dazzling heights of pop royalty, this electrifying photo gallery charts the meteoric rise and lasting legacy of the one and only Madonna. Prepare to be mesmerized as you witness the evolution of an icon who defied convention, broke boundaries, and redefined the world of music and fashion. Get ready to strike a pose and join us in celebrating the Queen of Pop's extraordinary journey.

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(Getty Images)

At age 20, after dropping out of college, Madonna left Michigan and moved to New York City all on her own. She had been attending University Of Michigan on a dance scholarship, and intended to continue to pursue her career in modern dance, on her own terms. Although the move was scary, she soon found work as a background dancer. 
 

It was the first time I'd ever taken a plane, the first time I'd ever gotten a taxi cab. I came here with $35 in my pocket. It was the bravest thing I'd ever done.

Madonna Was A Straight-A Student, 1970's

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(Facebook)

Throughout her school years, Madonna always got great grades! She attended St. Frederick's and St. Andrew's Catholic Elementary Schools, then West Middle School, and Rochester Adams High School, with straight A's all the way through. She said:
 

I wasn't rebellious in a certain way. I cared about being good at something. I didn't shave my underarms and I didn't wear make-up like normal girls do. But I studied and I got good grades... I wanted to be somebody.