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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Madonna

Madonna
Craig Barritt, Getty Images
Happy birthday Madonna! It's hard to believe that today, Aug. 16, the pop icon turns 53. Madonna broke the cookie-cutter boundaries of pop stardom, integrating sexuality and controversy into her music with tracks like 'Like a Virgin,' 'Papa Don't Preach' and 'Justify My Love.' She is truly a trend setter in every sense of the term, with both her groundbreaking, chart-topping singles and anything-but-generic approach to music, style and life in general. She inspired girls to start wearing lacy outfits and rosary beads as accessories in the '80s, and forever cemented the cone bra in pop history during the '90s. Now, in the 21st century, Madonna has proven once again that nothing can stop her, as she continues to churn out hit records and take on countless other business ventures. In celebration of the birth of this pop legend, here are 10 things you might not have known about Madonna.


10

Madonna suffers from brontophobia.

 
 

Before you start getting excited, it's not one of those crazy fears like peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth! Madonna is actually terrified of thunder and storms that bring the booming sound.

 
9

Surprisingly, the cutting edge songstress was a cheerleader in high school.

 
 

On top of her pom-pom wielding career, Madonna was also a straight-A student and was a founding member of her school's drama club.

 
8

Madonna credits her ballet teacher with helping her out of the Midwest.

 
 

Born and raised in Michigan, Madonna was inspired to move to NYC by her ballet teacher, Christopher Flynn, who exposed her to art, classical music, literature and other cultural devices. "He was the first man -- the first human being -- who made me feel good about myself and special. He was the first person who told me that I was beautiful or that I had something to offer the world, and he encouraged me to believe in my dreams, to go to New York," Madonna told Interview magazine.

 
7

Madonna played drums in a band before the start of her solo career.

 
 

During the '70's, Madonna met musician Dan Gilroy (whom she briefly dated) and joined his band the Breakfast Club after he taught her to play guitar, drums, and keyboards. Madonna played drums in the group until switching to lead vocals.

 
6

Before she hit it big, Madonna had her share of not-so-fun jobs.

 
 

She used to serve up coffee and donuts at Dunkin' Donuts (she actually got fired after squirting jelly in a customer's face), and also worked as a hatcheck girl at a Russian Tea Room in Manhattan.

 
5

Madonna beat out some heavy-hitting actresses for the role of Eva Perón in 'Evita.'

 
 

Originally, Academy Award winner Meryl Streep was offered the lead role in the film adaptation of the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. However, production was delayed. After going through a casting call that supposedly saw actresses Glenn Close, Barbra Streisand and Michelle Pfeiffer all trying out, Madonna (who had been campaigning for the part) won over the filmmakers.

 
4

Madonna doesn't have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame because she's just not interested.

 
 

It seems like everyone who is anyone has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame -- everyone except Madonna that is! The Grammy-winning songstress just didn't care about receiving a star when she was chosen for the honor in 1990. Now, Madonna would have to be resubmitted for a nomination in order to receive a star. However, Walk of Fame spokeswoman Ana Martinez-Holler said, "since she is not interested, I highly doubt that she will give a nominator the permission to do so."

 
3

'Vogue' was originally meant to appear as a B-side.

 
 

Say what?! In 1989, Madonna and her 'Like a Prayer' album producer were worried after her fourth US single 'Oh Father' didn't chart as high as they anticipated. For her next planned single, 'Keep It Together,' the duo decided to include a B-side track and threw together 'Vogue' at the last minute. After hearing 'Vogue,' execs at Warner Bros. refused to let it fly under the radar as a B-side and released it as a single on her 'I'm Breathless' album, which coincided with the release of Madonna's flick 'Dick Tracy.'

 
2

Madonna was paid millions to appear in a Pepsi commercial that never even aired.

 
 

In the midst of the Pepsi vs. Coke era, Madonna was paid $5 million to appear in a series of ads for Pepsi. She filmed a two-minute TV commercial that was set to air in early 1989, featuring her single 'Like a Prayer' and a plot that included flashbacks to Madonna's childhood from her days as a famous singer. However, the commercial never aired due to the controversy that was stirred up thanks to her 'Like a Prayer' music video, which featured a lot of religious imagery. Watch the Pepsi commercial here.

 
1

Madonna has an animal named after her.

 
 

In 2006, scientists named a new species of tardigrade (aka water bear), which is a microscopic water-dwelling animal, after the Material Girl. The scientists were just honoring Madge as a cultural icon, and gave no other reasoning behind the name "Echiniscus madonnae." Although it's quite the accolade, these "water bears" are kind of freaky looking. Seriously, check out a picture here.

 

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