Rags to Riches: The Madonna Story You Never Knew

By Jack Ripley | October 25, 2023

Like A Virgin was #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 For Six Weeks Straight, 1984

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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In 1984, a young and ambitious Madonna set the world ablaze with her second studio album, Like a Virgin, with the album's title track quickly became a pop culture phenomenon. The tune's bouncy melody and Madonna's playful vocals turned "Like a Virgin" into an instant earworm, making it a defining moment in the Queen of Pop's illustrious career. As the song climbed the charts, it became clear that the world was ready to embrace Madonna's provocative and flirtatious persona.

Madonna Moved to New York To Become A Dancer, 1978

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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.