Today in Madonna History: November 11, 1985


On November 11 1985, Madonna Live: The Virgin Tour was released on home video in the U.K. and France. The concert was filmed on May 25th, 1985 at Cobo Arena in Madonna’s home town of Detroit, Michigan. The concert film was directed by Daniel Kleinman and the music was produced by Madonna & Patrick Leonard.

At the beginning of the video Madonna declares:

“I went to New York. I had a dream. I wanted to be a big star, I didn’t know anybody, I wanted to dance, I wanted to sing, I wanted to do all those things, I wanted to make people happy, I wanted to be famous, I wanted everybody to love me. I wanted to be a star. I worked really hard, and my dream came true.”

The live performances of Like A Virgin and Dress You Up were released as music videos on MTV to promote the live video release.  Both videos were nominated for Best Choreography at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards.

Though it was also released on laserdisc in some countries, to date it has sadly not been officially reissued on DVD.

Today in Madonna History: November 9, 1985

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On November 9 1985, Madonna hosted the 1985-86 season premiere of NBC-TV’s Saturday Night Live.

The musical guest was Simple Minds.  Simple Minds performed Alive and Kicking and Satisfy Yourself.

During the SNL skits, Madonna performed Take On Me, La Bamba and Lionel Richie’s Three Times A Lady.

For the eleventh season of SNL, Lorne Michaels returned as executive producer after a five-year absence. Michaels wanted his own cast so the entire cast from the previous season was fired.

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Say what you will about Madonna’s acting chops, but the icon has always had our backs and never been afraid to push the envelope. Take, for example, her only hosting stint on Saturday Night Live back in 1985 when she was indisputably the most famous entertainer woman on the planet. In the sketch, which was clearly inspired by the anxiety and, in some cases, furor that surrounded an episode of Dynasty. Superstar actor Rock Hudson had joined the cast as a love interest to series regular Linda Evans. In one episode Hudson kissed Evans on the mouth. Not a big deal, you’re thinking but by the time the episode aired Hudson was revealed to be battling AIDS and had known at the time it was filmed but hadn’t disclosed the information to his costar. It was a different era, friends, an AIDS diagnosis was thought to be a death sentence and there were even tabloid reports that Evans had contracted the disease from a mere smooch. Evans, for the record, bore no grudge against the late superstar.

Anyway, in the skit titled Pinklisting, Madge dons a dark wig to resemble Evans’ other costar Joan Collins and a clipped British accent (a harbinger of things to come!) to play a TV actress unwilling to do scenes with a costar “she doesn’t know” due to her fear of AIDS. The joke, if it can be referred to as one, is that the costar is played by Terry Sweeney (still the only openly gay male SNL player), as a super-femme gay actor who tries to butch it up but he loses his cool when confronted by a snarky Judy-Liza headline.

While the sketch isn’t exactly a rib-tickler it’s surprising in hindsight that it was a comic skit built around AIDS at a time when it was still considered a fatal disease, and broadcast in November 1985, less than a month after Hudson’s death. While that may seem insensitive, remember that this was the year Larry Kramer’s landmark AIDS-themed play The Normal Heart was first produced — and President Reagan hadn’t even uttered the word in public. So let’s hear it again for Madonna, forever at the forefront of progress, bringing a public discourse on the disease into the homes of millions of TV viewers.

Today in Madonna History: September 2, 1985

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On September 2 1985, Madonna and Sean Penn are featured on the cover of People Magazine with the headline: Madonna Weds Sean.

Here’s a snippet of the article inside People:

The World Watches (From Afar) as the Pop Princess Takes Reclusive Film Star Sean Penn on a Walk to the Altar. From above the bluffs of Point Dume, Malibu, a half-dozen choppers filled with photographers sent down a windy backwash and a constant din. Below, at the huge wooden gates fronting real-estate developer Dan Unger’s $6.5 million home, blue-blazered guards oversaw an I.D. check of all who entered, while inside others prepared for the evening ahead by arming themselves with infrared binoculars to scan the perimeter for intruders. One interloper—an Italian photographer in camouflage gear and blackened face who had been hiding in the shrubbery since 1:30 in the morning—was ejected and his pictures of the blessed event were destroyed.

Today in Madonna History: August 16, 1985

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On August 16 1985, Madonna and Sean Penn were married at a clifftop mansion in Malibu, California. Their wedding day was also Madonna’s 27th birthday.

Some of the celebrities attending the wedding included Rosanna Arquette, Tom Cruise, Andy Warhol, Cher, Martin Sheen, Rob Lowe, Carrie Fisher, Diane Keaton, David Letterman, Rosanna Arquette, Christopher Walken, Steve Rubell and many others.

Sean and Madonna later honeymooned at the Highlands Inn in Carmel, California.

Andy Warhol recalled this about the wedding:

It was just the most exciting weekend of my life. Martin went down to the hairdresser earlier in the day to have his hair done. We rode in a limo out to Malibu and when we saw helicopters in the distance we knew we were at the wedding. Somebody had tipped the reporters off about where the wedding was and about ten helicopters were hovering, it was like Apocalypse Now. And one helicopter had a girl hanging off with a camera and they were all trying to get in close. And the security people found camouflage-outfitted photographers in the bushes. And I looked really close at Madonna and she is beautiful. And she and Sean are just so in love. She wore white, and a black bowler hat, I don’t know what that was supposed to mean. And someone said that Sean had shot at the helicopters the night before. The only boring celebrity there was Diane Keaton, really. And it was the right mixture of nobodies and celebrities. Sean came over to say hello, and the good-looking family of Madonna was there, all the brothers. And you can see Madonna and Sean love each other so much. Really, it was the most exciiting thing ever.

Today in Madonna History: August 10, 1985

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On August 10 1985, Into The Groove spent the first of two weeks in the number-one position on the UK Singles Chart. It was Madonna’s first chart-topping single in the UK, where she has collected a total of thirteen number-one hits to date.

As an added validation, Into the Groove was Madonna’s first attempt at co-producing a song. While artists co-producing their own work is common today, it was relatively unusual at the time, particularly for female artists. The immense success of the single undoubtedly helped convince the powers at Sire/Warner to grant Madonna the artistic freedom to co-produce her next album, True Blue, together with her collaborators Stephen Bray and Patrick Leonard.

Today in Madonna History: July 29, 1985

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On July 29 1985, Madonna and many of the performers from Live Aid appeared on the cover of People Magazine.

Music that moved the world sixteen years after Woodstock, Rock’s best and brightest gather on two continents to set new standards of good work—and good works.

Sequestered by location, security personnel and a multilayered credential system, the stars were free to enjoy one another’s company without too much interference from fans and other mortals. Madonna, looking a bit frightened despite a phalanx of guards, clung to the hand of her intended, the surly Sean Penn. Penn spent most of the concert either inside Madonna’s trailer or gazing at a video monitor in front of trailers being used by Robert Plant and Tom Petty. Madonna later relaxed enough to drape an arm around the shoulder of Bob Dylan, no slouch himself in the surly department. Hey, the lady knows what she likes.