Madonna! OMG! (That’s Original Material Girl). She’s arguably the biggest female music star ever (selling an estimated 300m records and CDs) and she’s has spent her entire career churning out mega-hit after mega-hit. Notwithstanding the periodic reinvention of her musical persona, she’s an actress (Truth or Dare, Desperately Seeking Susan, Dick Tracey, Evita), businesswoman, author, director and philanthropist.

After bursting onto the scene in 1983 with Holiday, she hit instant superstardom with the deeply controversial Like a Virgin. She was censored, branded blasphemous and pornographic by the Church and both glorified and vilified by a fickle media for her materialism and narcissism. Er, it was the 80s. Everyone was neck-deep in materialism and narcissism. Following hot on the heels of Like a Virgin were two more iconic studio albums True Blue and Like a Prayer.

More than just an outrageous artist, her style and ‘cojones’ influenced a generation of young girls and for almost two decades she was rarely out of transatlantic Top 10s. Her music, look and attitude are instantly recognisable and she is a symbol of empowerment as well as a cultural icon.

In 1990 her Blond Ambition World Tour was described by Rolling Stone as an ‘elaborately choreographed, sexually provocative extravaganza’ and she played to sell-out crowds the world over despite The Pope asking the public and the Christian community to boycott the shows.

It didn’t work.

She’s been married to Hollywood star Sean Penn and to Brit-flick director Guy Ritchie. She’s had dalliances with some of the world’s leading men including Warren ‘You’re So Vain’ Beatty and she’s adopted children from Africa. She has lived her life in the public eye, almost as a piece of voyeuristic performance art.

She’s the best-selling female artist of all time. Time magazine included Madonna in their list of the 25 Most Powerful Women of the Past Century. She was ranked at #2 (behind The Beatles) on the Billboard Hot 100 All-Time Artists. She’s in the Rock ‘n’ Roll hall of Fame. VH1 proclaimed her as the Greatest Woman in Music. Her net worth is north of a billion dollars. Without Madonna at the helm, pop music may not have flourished as it did.

Not too shabby for a second generation Italian-America girl who grew up showing the boys her knickers in elementary school.

Madonna Trivia

She has five brothers and sisters – Martin, Anthony, Paula, Christopher and Melanie and two half-siblings – Jennifer and Mario.

While she was a struggling dancer in New York, she worked in Dunkin’ Donuts but was fired for squirting jam into the face of a customer!

The godfather of Madonna and Guy Ritchie’s son Rocco is Sting.

She suffers from brontophobia – a fear of thunder.

Madonna was paid $5m by Pepsi to endorse their products and she chose to debut Like a Prayer in a commercial. It was full of religious iconography, stigmata, burning crosses and sexual dream sequences involving saints so Pepsi pulled the ad, it was condemned by the Vatican and it was never aired.

She’s been a vegetarian since she was 15 and hates the colour orange.

Madonna topped the Forbes ‘Highest Earning Celebrities list in 2013 with estimated earnings of $125m, or around £77.5m.

She beat Glenn Close, Frances McDormand, Debbie Reynolds and Barbara Streisand to the 1997 Golden Globe for Best Actress in Evita.

Guinness World Records lists her as the Most Successful Female Recording Artist of all time.

She has had a new species of tardigrade (also known as a water bear) named after her – Echiniscus madonnae.

Madonna is the only artist who performed at the benefit concerts Live Aid (1985), Live 8 (2005), and Live Earth (2007).

On her first solo tour, she was supported by The Beastie Boys!

True Blue was dedicated to Madonna’s then husband Sean Penn who she proclaimed as ‘the coolest guy in the universe’.

Madonna doesn’t have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. She was selected for the honour in 1990 but showed no interest and the invitation has expired.

Her controversial book ‘Sex’ was so popular a reprint was ordered within 48 hours. You can pick up second-hand copies for around £175.

Her full name is Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone.

Her four children are called Lourdes Maria Ciccone-Leon, David Banda Mwale Ciccone, Rocco Ritchie and Mercy James.

She was once the drummer for New York-based pop group Breakfast Club.

Madonna – Where Is She Now?

Open any newspaper, magazine or entertainment website and you’ll have a good idea of what she’s up to now. She’s making films, building schools for girls in Islamic countries and performing to packed houses the world over.