Middle-aged Madonna Endures

Now Motherhood Comes First, At Least Sometimes

For nearly two decades, few celebrities have captured the public's attention like Madonna. She has sold millions of albums, starred in more than a dozen movies and toured the world in concert. This summer, crowds are filling stadiums around the globe for her first concert tour in eight years.

Though the one-time Material Girl is now in her 40s, she still lives up to her reputation for defiance. As Charlie Rose first reported in 1999, motherhood and middle age haven't really changed her. She's still Madonna.

Click here to read the three-part report:
  • May 1999 Report
  • September 2000 Update
  • August 2001 Update
    May 1999 Report

    At 40, she is still very focused on her image. As 60 Minutes II set up for an interview in her apartment, Madonna got very picky, first objecting to the lighting, and then to the chair in which she was to sit. At one point, she suggested that the interview be put off for another day.

    Then her daughter appeared, and Madonna instantly relaxed. After a quick hand-off, Mom was back to business. "Before her, it was me, me, me, me. Me, me, me, me, me," she says, laughing.

    And now? "It's, me, me, me, her, me, me, me, me."

    You can't say she's not honest.

    In fact, she has made no secret of her ambition from day one. Madonna set out to conquer the world of pop music, and she did it. She now has her own record company. And has made hundreds of millions of dollars over the years. She won four Grammys this year for her latest album, Ray of Light. Her next goal, she says, is to win an Oscar.

    She has been ambitious and combative, since childhood. Born Madonna Louise Ciccone in Bay City, Mich., she was one of eight children in an Italian Catholic family. Madonna was named after her mother but raised by her father, a strict disciplinarian. Her mother died of breast cancer when Madonna was 6.

    Losing her mother, she says, was "like having your heart ripped out of your chest. Like a limb missing. The ultimate abandonment. And it was such a great mystery to me where she went. And I--that was a part of me that was waiting for her to come back. So, you know, it's just a great sense of loss that you learn to adjust to, and you perhaps overcompensate in other ways for it."

    Madonna dealt with her loss by rebelling. "I grew up in a high school where it was very conservative, and I felt like people disapproved of me, and I felt like an outsider," she says.

    "I'm sure I, you know, I brought most of it on. I mean, I stopped shaving under my arms and my legs. Which is, you know, you know, pretty subversive behavior."

    At 19, still scarred from the loss of her mother, she left Michigan for New York City. "Part of the reason I sort of shot out like a cannon ouof Michigan and left home at such an early age is because I had to feel independent," she says. "I had to make myself feel secure on my own. You know, I had to feel like I didn't have to rely on anyone for anything. Because if you can feel this great sense of independence, then you can never feel that loss again. No one can abandon you."

    But even in New York, this eclectic, erotic, outspoken rebel stood out. A record deal followed, and so did the fans. Music videos helped make her a star of the MTV generation. She wasn't just famous, she captured everyone's attention. She did it by challenging the boundaries of conventional thinking. And in the sensational new world of music videos, even the Catholic Church was not immune.

    Says Madonna: "I made a Black Saint come to life in one of my videos. And then I kissed him on an altar, you know. If that isn't, you know, pushing the envelope. I mean, at least it seemed like it at the time. I guess not now."

    There was even some talk of excommunication, which made Madonna happy: "At the time, I was in super rebellion mode. I mean, it's like, great, the establishment is against me."

    Eventually, her rebellion backfired, at least as a career choice. Her sexual thriller Body of Evidence and her album Erotica were commercial disappointments. And her book Sex, some think, simply went too far. The public seemed to have had too much of Madonna.

    She struggled. "I lost confidence in humanity. I thought that people were being unbelievably cruel to me for no reason. And when I lost confidence, in not being able to feel like there was a certain, sort of, level of behavior that I could depend on in other people, a certain decency, when I lost confidence in that, I began to lose confidence in myself."

    But don't confuse losing confidence for humility. She refuses to publicly admit making any mistakes: "I am the result of the good choices I've made and the bad choices. You know, and if I say I regret something or that I made a mistake, I wouldn't be who I am today. I don't want to have any sense of shame about it. And I don't want to have any sense of regret. Why should I?"

    She even says she has no regrets about her tumultuous three-year marriage to Sean Penn. But by her mid-30s, despite all she'd achieved, she admitted to herself that she remained incomplete. Madonna wanted to have a child.

    During the filming of Evita, she revealed that she was pregnant. Trainer Carlos Leon was the father. They didn't marry and are no longer together. But they do share custody of Lola. As with every other aspect of her life, when it comes to motherhood, Madonna defies expectations. Despite Madonna's complex relationship with the church, she had her daughter baptized as a Catholic.

    She says she doesn't dismiss everything the church says: "I can believe - I can disagree with doctrines and dogmas and still celebrate them. I go to thsynagogue. I study Hinduism."

    For her, religion is "about realizing that all paths lead to God in the end. And that everybody decided, you know, over the years, to sort of segregate and say, 'No, these are my rules. No, I believe that God came from here. No, I believe that Jesus is not the son of God. No, I believe in this, and I believe in that.' And the thing is, the point of studying all of is that really, they're all the same (at) the end of the day."

    And so, Madonna Louise Ciccone appears to have come full circle. The rebel who lives to defy convention has finally found satisfaction in one of the most conventional acts of all: motherhood.

    Madonna confronts this conflict every day. "On the one hand, the idea of marriage and the sort of traditional family life repulses me," she says. "But on the other hand, I long for it, you know what I mean? I'm constantly in conflict with things. And it is because of my past and my upbringing and the journey that I've been on."

    September 2000 Report

    This summer, Madonna gave birth to her second child, a little boy she named Rocco. And her daughter Lourdes is almost 4.

    Her appeal to music fans continues to endure. In 1999, she won a shelf-full of Grammy Awards for her album, Ray of Light. The title song of her latest album, Music, has hit No. 1 on the record charts.

    August 2001 Report

    Her standing-room-only Drowned World tour, which opened in June in Spain, has taken her to Italy, Germany, France, England and the U.S. The 12-city U.S. leg ends Sept. 14 in Los Angeles. Her first concert tour in eight years, it confirms once again her status as pop music's most outrageous diva.

    Since her last tour, her private life has changed dramatically. In December, she married film director Guy Ritchie, father of her year-old son Rocco, at a lavish wedding ceremony in a Scottish Highlands castle. Her daughter Lourdes, whom she calls Lola, is now 4.