Rags to Riches: The Madonna Story You Never Knew

By Sophia Maddox | May 29, 2023

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 Is Her Real Name!

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Born Madonna Louise Ciccone in 1978, Madonna was the third of six children to Madonna Louise and Silvio Anthony "Tony" Ciccone. She was nicknamed  "Little Nonnie" by family members. As a middle child, Madonna often found herself feeling overlooked and craving attention:

You want your parents' attention ... You don't want the hand-me-down clothes ... You want to stand out. You want to be treated special.