Madonna at 60: A colourful career in pictures

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Celebrated pop star, actress, director and writer Madonna celebrates her 60th birthday on Thursday.

The artist - full name Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone - has performed on 10 concert tours and sold more than 300 million records, making her the best-selling female recording artist of all time, according to the Guinness World Records.

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We take a look at the star's career and life in pictures, from her early beginnings studying dance in New York, to her chart success, film career and family life.

Madonna, seen below in a photo from her high school yearbook, grew up in Rochester, Michigan.

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She moved to New York in 1977 where she studied dance and worked as a model. Madonna is seen below posing for a number of photo shoots in which she showed she was already beginning to develop her own personal style and attention to her image.

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Image source, Getty Images
Image source, Getty Images

Pursuing a music career, Madonna recorded demos with her boyfriend Stephen Bray.

An early rejection letter from 1981 was auctioned in New York City in 2001, in which a music professional states: "I do not feel she is ready yet, but I do hear the basis of a strong artist."

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When her demos found their way to Sire Records boss Seymour Stein - while he was being treated in hospital - he was impressed with "the drive, the zeal, the ruthlessness" of the young musician who came in to see him in his hospital bed to ensure she got the deal with his label.

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Holiday was Madonna's first breakthrough hit in the US, entering the chart late in 1983 and climbing to number 16 in January 1984.

Other early career-defining singles Like A Virgin and Material Girl followed.

The year 1985 was a landmark one for the young singer. Her Virgin Tour was a sell-out, supported by the Beastie Boys, and Madonna (below) played at the historic Live Aid concert, helping to raise money for famine victims in Ethiopia.

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Madonna also featured in her first mainstream film the comedy drama Desperately Seeking Susan in 1985, receiving generally positive reviews from both critics and cinema-goers.

The artist, who played a streetwise chancer, starred alongside Rosanna Arquette, a conservative housewife struck with amnesia.

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Image caption,
Rosanna Arquette and Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan

Madonna married actor Sean Penn on a Californian cliff top in 1985, with press helicopters circling and a strong-worded message (we can't repeat it here) to photographers written in the sand on the beach below.

The couple starred together in the 1986 film Shanghai Surprise, set in China during the Japanese occupation in 1938.

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Image caption,
A film still of Madonna and Sean Penn in Shanghai Surprise

Madonna's third studio album True Blue, released in 1986, pointed to her becoming an enduring star of pop, reaching number one in 12 countries and producing five hit singles.

One of the album's hits included Papa Don't Preach, a song about teenage pregnancy, proving Madonna was an artist unafraid to tackle controversial issues.

The year 1989 saw Madonna separate from Penn and release the hit single Like A Prayer, with a music video that showed burning crosses and the singer kissing a black saint. Unsurprisingly, it provoked vociferous protests.

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Despite the controversy, the album went straight to number one.

The album was followed by the single Vogue and the Blond Ambition tour and again saw Madonna undertaking a big image reinvention. This time sexuality and female power were the messages.

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Image caption,
Madonna's new image included the "conical bra" with which she will long be associated
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In 1992 Madonna turned her hand to books, again sparking controversy. She published the "coffee table" photo book, Sex, featuring Madonna in a number of sexually explicit poses, some with celebrities including Naomi Campbell and Vanilla Ice.

Again, reaction was mixed, ranging from outrage to applause for her courage and message of empowerment.

In 1996, Madonna's film career was given a boost with her casting in the starring role of Evita, playing Evita Duarte, the wife of Argentine president Juan Peron.

She is seen below being directed by Alan Parker in the film.

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Madonna's first daughter, Lourdes, with fitness trainer Carlos Leon, was born in 1996.

The artist returned to music in 1998 with her album Ray Of Light, featuring dance and electronica styles, covering topics like fame and parenthood - and again sporting a new relaxed "new age" look.

The singer is seen below in stills from the video of the album's title track.

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Image source, Getty Images

Film director Guy Ritchie, (of Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels fame) entered Madonna's life in 1998, after they were introduced at a party by Sting's wife, Trudie Styler. (Styler was an executive producer on Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.)

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Madonna and Ritchie had a son, Rocco, who was baptised at Dornoch Cathedral in the Highlands on 21 December 2000, seen below.

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A day after the baptism the couple married, holding an exclusive wedding reception at Skibo Castle near Dornoch in Sutherland, seen below.

The celebrity guest list included actor Rupert Everett, designers Stella McCartney and Donatella Versace, with actress Gwyneth Paltrow as maid of honour.

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Ritchie directed his wife in the film Swept Away in 2002, also starring Italian actor Adriano Giannini, seen below.

The film told the story of a socialite stranded on a Mediterranean island with a communist sailor. It was a box office flop and picked up five Golden Raspberries.

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It was in 2003 that Madonna locked lips with Britney Spears (pictured) and Christina Aguilera while performing with the two younger singers at the MTV Video Music Awards, an event that gained much press attention.

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Also in 2003, Madonna published her children's book Mr Peabody's Apples, seen below at a reading in New Jersey.

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In 2004, Madonna hit the road again with her Re-invention World Tour, taking more than £62.5m in ticket sales, with yoga-inspired dance routines, and a bagpipe version of Into The Groove.

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Image source, Getty Images
Image source, Getty Images

Madonna extended her family with the adoption of 13-month-old David from Malawi, receiving final approval on the adoption in 2008. In the same year, Madonna and Ritchie divorced, ending their eight-year marriage.

Madonna and Ritchie are seen below with their son Rocco and her daughter Lourdes in 2007 at the Arthur And The Invisibles premiere in London.

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The artist released her album Hard Candy in 2008. She also directed her first film, comedy drama Filth and Wisdom, celebrated her 50th birthday and embarked on her Sticky And Sweet world tour, seen below.

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Madonna released her album MDNA in 2012, followed by a world tour, below.

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In 2012, Madonna became the Super Bowl's first female headline act since Janet Jackson had her "wardrobe malfunction" in 2004. Her performance set a record for the highest viewing audience.

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The Super Bowl performance also featured artists Nicki Minaj, Redfoo and SkyBlu, at the Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana.

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In 2014, Madonna made a red carpet appearance with her son David Banda Mwale Ciccone Ritchie at the 56th Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, California.

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When performing on stage for the Brit Awards 2015 in London, Madonna hit the headlines with an unfortunate tumble when her cape was whipped off by a backing dancer.

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In 2016, Madonna and her ex-husband Ritchie settled a court dispute over the custody of 16-year-old son Rocco.

The singer headed out on the road again with her 2016 Rebel Heart Tour, seen here in China.

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In 2017, Forbes estimated Madonna's net worth at $580m (£454m), making her the richest female artist based in America. Celine Dion is a runner-up with $380m (£299m).

After seven huge world tours, the artist is looking to develop her performance style to suit smaller audiences. She told Mark Savage from BBC News in 2017: "I like doing intimate shows and being able to talk directly to the audience.

"This is something I'm exploring right now: the idea of doing a show that doesn't travel the world, but stays in one place."

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