Today in Madonna History: January 5, 1989

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On January 5 1989, Madonna filed for divorce from Sean Penn citing “irreconcilable differences” at the Los Angeles County Superior Court in Los Angeles, California.

Madonna’s publicist at the time, Liz Rosenberg, made this statement:

“I can only tell you that there will definitely be no further comment from either Mr. Penn or Madonna on this subject.”

Today in Madonna History: December 14, 1987

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On December 14 1987, Madonna and Sean Penn appeared on the cover of People magazine.

Everyone Said It Wouldn’t Last… …And It Didn’t. After Two Years of Marriage, Madonna and Sean Penn Go Their Separate Ways.  

Well, you can’t blame Judge John Merrick. It was Merrick, now a retired justice of the peace, who performed the August 1985 marriage of Madonna Louise Ciccone and Sean “KO” Penn. “I felt they were serious about their vows,” says Merrick. “I remember a line from the ceremony: ‘Although there will be times that your moods may falter, and you’ll question each other’s motives, the faith and love that you share will help to show that your inconsistency is only for the moment.’ ”   Trouble is, for Sean, 27, and Madonna, 29, that moment seemed to persist for a little over two years. Now, after 27 months of holy matrimony and unholy acrimony, the material girl and her rebel without a pause are positively, absolutely, this-time-they’re-not-kidding headed for that crowded community called Splitsville. “The marriage is definitely over,” says Madonna’s spokesperson, Liz Rosenberg. Seconds Penn’s publicist, Lois Smith, “The two of them have called off the marriage.”

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Today in Madonna History: October 30, 2006

On October 30 2006, Madonna appeared on the cover of People magazine with the headline: Madonna’s Adoption Drama.

Here’s a snippet of the article:

Bringing Home David By Karen S. Schneider

As Madonna and Her Husband, Guy Ritchie Welcome Home Their New 13-Month-Old Son from Malawi, Local Human Rights Groups—and Some of the Boy’s Relatives—Raise Questions Over the Legality of the Adoption.

Madonna had only seen a snapshot of David Banda and had learned only basic information about him when she and her husband, Guy Ritchie flew to the African nation of Malawi on Oct. 3. But when the singer arrived at the Home of Hope Orphanage Centre and met the 13-month-old boy, says Madonna’s spokeswoman Liz Rosenberg, “It was love at first sight.” Adds a witness: “The look of pure joy on her face was beyond words, not unlike when her children [Lourdes, 10, and Rocco, 6] were born.”

About a week later—even as a storm of controversy was brewing over the planned adoption—Madonna’s happiness was echoed in a dimly lit room of the High Court in the Malawian capital of Lilongwe. The pop superstar, 48, and her director husband, 38, met, for the first time, with David’s dad, a farmer named Yohane Banda. Through a translator who spoke Banda’s Chichewa language, “she asked lots of questions,” says Banda, 32. “How old I am, what I do for a living, everything.”

Madonna also made promises—to provide Banda’s only child with a loving home, and to bring him back to Malawi to visit. For the singer, the face-to-face with Banda marked a turning point in an almost year-long effort to adopt a child from an impoverished nation where she helps fund six orphanages. (She has also pledged to sponsor improvements through the Millennium Promise program.) For Banda—who ekes out a living farming onions and cabbage, and placed David in the church-run Home of Hope when his wife died—it was a chance to give his son, he tells PEOPLE, “a brighter future.” Adds David’s grandmother Asineti Mwale, 56: “God has heard our prayer. May he bless this kindhearted woman abundantly.”

Today in Madonna History: January 30, 2004

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On January 30 2004, Madonna’s Official Fan Club (ICON) and Madonna.com published a fan club exclusive photo book titled, Nobody Knows Me. The 52-page soft cover photo book featured previously unreleased photos (spanning her career).

Here’s what Liz Rosenberg had to say when asked to comment on a highlight she witnessed in Madonna’s career:

“Highlights? There’s just too many.

It’s a highlight for me just to dance around the living room to Deeper and Deeper. And also when we played Vogue at a club for the first time.

The list goes on and on and I’m thrilled to have had a front row seat to most of it.”

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Today in Madonna History: October 15, 1992

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On October 15 1992, Madonna threw a Sex book pre-release party at New York City’s Industria Super Studio, and signed all the invitations under her alter ego “Dita”.

During the party, Madonna showed up dressed as Little Bo Peep and carried with her a stuffed toy lamb. 

Madonna’s publicist Liz Rosenberg showed concern at first worrying “what the parents of America’s impressionable teens will soon be thinking” but later said that it “all depends on your idea of lovemaking, which in Madonna’s case, should give new meaning to the word erotic.”

Both Walden Books and Barnes & Noble prepared corporate statements that their store managers could share with customers who were offended by Sex. Both statements defended the right of bookstores to provide “diversity and choice” to customers and say censorship is not the role of bookstores.

Bookstore owner David Epstein stated that “The feeling of most people who have ordered the book is that Madonna is something special, that this is cutting-edge art, they’re not the kind of people who are buying it because it’s smut and dirty pictures. People are interested in it as art.”

Today in Madonna History: September 7, 1995

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On September 7 1995, Madonna won Best Female Video for “Take A Bow” at the 12th annual MTV Video Music Awards at Radio City Music Hall, New York, NY. Madonna also presented the award for Best Rap Video.

Later, a post-show chat with Kurt Loder to promote her upcoming ballads collection Something To Remember quickly went off the rails when Courtney Love infamously interrupted the interview. While it may have been Liz Rosenberg’s worst nightmare, the hilarious encounter certainly gave viewers something to remember!

Today in Madonna History: July 25, 1998

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On July 25 1998, the music video for Drowned World/Substitute For Love premiered in Europe. The video was directed by Walter Stern and was filmed on June 26 & 27 1998 at London’s famous Claridge’s Hotel and Piccadilly Circus.

The video caused some controversy when the British press reported that it would feature scenes of Madonna’s car being chased by paparazzi on mopeds, concluding that it was a reference to the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, the previous year. Liz Rosenberg responded by denying that the scenes were intended to draw comparison to Diana’s death and insisting that the video was about Madonna’s own relationship with fame.

Sadly the video was not serviced to video channels in North America, and with online steaming and downloadable videos not yet prevalent at the time, most fans outside of Europe were only able to enjoy the video for the first time when it appeared on the 93:99 video collection over a year later.

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