No material girls (or boys) here! Madonna’s seven siblings live VERY humble lives with her sisters running the family’s vineyard – while her brothers have battled homelessness and alcoholism
- Madonna is third born of a family of eight children from a Catholic family
- READ MORE: Madonna’s family have ‘come together’ after 64-year-old was rushed to intensive care with bacterial infection
She’s one of the most famous musicians in history rightfully earning the moniker of ‘Queen of Pop’.
And despite Madonna’s extreme fame and constant attention, her seven siblings have largely stayed out of the spotlight.
The Ciccone siblings, and their 92-year-old father Silvio, keep a low profile, leaving the limelight to Madge herself.
While the siblings have been involved in many arguments over the years, they are said to have gathered around the sister after the megastar was hospitalised with a serious bacterial infection this week.
Sisters Paula, Melanie and Jennifer – and brothers: Martin, Christopher and Mario – are believed to have visited the superstar at the ICU in New York.
The collapse will be a particular fright for the family, after their brother Anthony died in February from throat cancer and respiratory failure, aged 66.
The Ciccone siblings, and their 92-year-old father Silvio, keep a low profile, leaving the limelight to Madge herself. From left: Paula, Madonna, Jennifer and Melanie with their father Silvio Ciccone (sitting) in 2021
While the siblings have been involved in many arguments over the years, they are said to have gathered around the sister after the megastar (pictured at the Grammy’s) was hospitalised with a serious bacterial infection this week
The first five Ciccone siblings grew up in the suburbs of Detroit to Catholic parents, an Italian-American father and French-Canadian mother Madonna (the popstar was named after her).
Tragedy struck in 1963 when the children’s mother died at just 30 of breast cancer.
Madonna, who was only five at the time, has said she would be a completely different person if her mother had not died so young.
In 1966, Madonna’s father Tony married the family’s housekeeper Joan Gustafson and they had two children, Jennifer and Mario.
The children adjusted with difficulty. Madonna, particularly unhappy about her father’s remarriage, rebelled, straining their relationship for many years.
Here, FEMAIL reveals where the siblings are now, from ‘sensible’ sisters living on the family vineyard to troubled brothers battling addiction.
Anthony Ciccone, battled homelessness and alcoholism before he died aged 66, in February
The second-born son of the Ciccone family sadly passed away last year, after a troubled life including time living on the street and battling alcoholism
The second-born son of the Ciccone family sadly passed away last year, after a troubled life including time living on the street and battling alcoholism.
Anthony mostly stayed in Michigan and worked for their father, before falling victim to alcoholism and homelessness.
Like Madonna, Anthony also spent time in New York in his 30s in the late 1980s.
Carolina Gengo, 59, who dated him at the time, described him in a positive light. ‘He was a lost soul trying to find his way but he was a good person,’ she told Dailymail.com last year.
‘He had books everywhere, that was all he really had. He was into reading about life and philosophy,’ said Gengo. ‘And he wanted to sit around and talk about it,’ she added.
The ‘life-threatening’ condition that de-railed Madonna’s tour: What are bacterial infections and what causes them?
It is not known exactly what kind of infection Madonna is suffering from, however bacterial infections can affect many different parts of the body, including the skin, lungs, brain, and blood, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
‘Common bacterial diseases include UTIs, food poisoning, STIs and some skin, sinus and ear infections,’ the medical body states, noting that the most common form of treatment is a course of antibiotics.
‘There are many bacterial infections that aren’t usually serious or can be treated easily with antibiotics,’ it explains. ‘However, any bacterial infection that gets deep into your body, like in your blood, heart, lungs or brain, can be life-threatening.’
‘He talked about what it was like being the brother of Madonna, he didn’t like being known as the brother of Madonna’, she said.
Gengo recounted one occasion when on his birthday his sister’s assistant called to ask how much money he wanted as a gift. That, she said, alienated him.
After some years of sleeping rough under a bridge in Michigan Madonna’s family said they would reincorporate estranged Anthony in 2017.
It came afterhe suggested publicly that his family had turned their backs on him. ‘I’m a zero in their eyes; a non-person, an embarrassment,’ he told the Daily Mail in 2011.
‘If I froze to death, my family probably wouldn’t know or care about it for six months.’
Anthony said at the time that he had been living under a river bridge in Michigan with a sleeping bag and his sole companion, another street dweller named Michael.
He also claimed he once worked in Alaska’s fishing industry and as a photographer’s assistant in New York.
But tougher times saw him making a few dollars doing odd jobs and collecting bottles and cans from people’s dustbins.
Madonna had known about his plight, and repeatedly offered to help by paying for him to go into rehab. His father also offered to give him his job back if he got professional help.
He had not always been receptive though. ‘My family seem to think rehab is some kind of magic panacea for life’s ills,’ he once said.
Nonetheless things appeared to look up for Ciccone after a stint in rehab in 2017 and his reintegration to family life.
Karen McCarthy, a founder of rehab clinic Dann’s House, confirmed his stay, telling the Sunday People: ‘Anthony loved it at Dann’s House for quite a while, and made significant improvements in his life while he was with us.
‘Dann’s House does good work with people who are vulnerable. We’ve seen tremendous, positive results.’
In a statement following his death, Joe Henry, who is the husband of Madonna’s sister Melanie Ciccone, wrote: ‘My brother-in-law, Anthony Gerard Ciccone, exited this earthly plane last evening. I’ve known him since I was 15, in the spring of our lives in Michigan so many years now gone.’
‘Anthony was a complex character; and god knows: we tangled in moments, as true brothers can. But I loved him, and understood him better than I was sometimes willing to let on,’ he added.
‘But trouble fades; and family remains – with hands reached across the table. Farewell, then, brother Anthony. I want to think the god your blessed mother (and mine) believed in has her there, waiting to receive you. At least for today, no one shall dissuade me from this vision,’ said Ciccone, ending his note.
Martin Ciccone, 75, recovering alcoholic and voice over artist
Like his late brother Anthony, Martin Ciccone has suffered a troubled past in which he’s battled alcohol abuse, DUI arrests, time in jail, and multiple stints in rehab
Like his late brother Anthony, Martin Ciccone has suffered a troubled past in which he’s battled alcohol abuse, DUI arrests, time in jail, and multiple stints in rehab.
In 2013, while working at a rehab centre in Hollywood for alcoholics and drug addicts, Martin told how his famous sister is helping him out financially by paying for a new set of false teeth for him.
He said: ‘We are on good terms and she’s helping me out. She’s getting me some new teeth. I’m hoping to start doing voiceover work again for cartoons and video games and get back on my feet.’
He’s also had a stint in the US army, and followed in his sister’s footsteps with a music career.
In 1994, he released a debut rap album under the name MC Ciccone, which included numerous bitter digs at his sister.
In 1999, after being without a record contact for several years, he was finally persuaded by Madonna to enter rehab to deal with his alcohol problem — which she paid for — causing him to miss her second wedding.
He started a restaurant in Los Angeles, and went back into rehab again in 2003.
Divorced with a daughter, he lives in Los Angeles and is trying to make it as a voice-over artist. He and Madonna are in friendly contact.
Paula Ciccone, 63, ‘rock of siblings’ that runs family vineyard
A year younger than her famous sibling, if you saw Paula on the street it would be hard to conceive that this normal-looking 60-something is even vaguely connected to the global superstar, never mind one of her closest relatives
When Madonna dropped out of college in 1978 to go to New York, Paula followed a few years later, staying with her big sister as she attempted to carve out her own showbusiness career (pictured in 1985)
A year younger than her famous sibling, if you saw Paula on the street it would be hard to conceive that this normal-looking 60-something is even vaguely connected to the global superstar, never mind one of her closest relatives.
Head winemaker at the family’s vineyard in Michigan, she is more commonly to be found in fleeces and jeans than corsets or leather. Intensely private — it’s unclear if she has a partner — Paula, who shared a childhood bedroom with Madonna, is at heart a bashful introvert.
Perched atop a hill on the picturesque Leelanau Peninsula, with panoramic views overlooking Michigan’s West Grand Traverse Bay, the Ciccone Vineyard and Winery is where Paula is most often found.
Established by their father Silvio ‘Tony’ Ciccone and his second wife Joan in 1995, it is set across 13 acres and has grown from a family-owned concern into a thriving business, winning awards and operating a popular tasting room. In 2004, when the business was ailing, Madonna stepped in with around £754,000.
It also has a highly regarded sideline as a wedding destination, with couples swapping vows in the vineyard’s quaint 100-year-old barn during the summer months.
‘[Paula is] an intrinsically shy person but she’s forced herself to be less shy because of all the responsibilities she has,’ Michael Schafer, a sommelier, certified wine and spirits expert and member of the board of the Michigan Wine Collaborative, previously told the Daily Mail.
Madonna, centre, in 1970 with, from left, sister Paula, Uncle Chris, brothers Christopher and Marty, sister Melanie, stepmother Joan and father Silvio
When Madonna dropped out of college in 1978 to go to New York, Paula followed a few years later, staying with her big sister as she attempted to carve out her own showbusiness career.
With short platinum hair, Paula tried out modelling, and took part in an Oprah interview in 1986. She seemed to be uncomfortable with comparisons to her sister, commenting ‘fame changes family’.
While Madonna became an international superstar, Paula had behind-the-scenes jobs in special effects and set costume in film. Both careers fizzled out, however, and Paula moved back to Michigan where she became an artist and then took on a corporate job.
In 2011, Paula was made redundant and spent the summer at the family winery.
READ MORE: A look at Madonna’s intense schedule: How the singer, 64, exercises six days a week in ‘punishing’ regime as those close to her tell all on her demanding on-stage routine – after she is ‘rushed to the ICU’
‘When I first got here, I just did the website. Then I inventoried all the rows of vineyards for each wine and tagged all of the posts. Once I was done with that, it was ‘What should I do next?’,’ she previously said.
‘I didn’t come up here to be the winemaker, but I thought what the heck, I’ll try it. My father started giving me responsibilities in the cellar, involving me more . . . I started keeping a notebook of all the different procedures.’
Studiously, she improved her knowledge of wine-making with classes at Michigan State University. When Paula’s father passed the baton to her, handing her control of the wine-making process, she began making wine in her own innovative style, and picking up awards.
Gone are the glamorous clothes and high maintenance lifestyle Paula once had as a model. Recently, she cut the ribbon on the winery’s new outdoor seating area, putting aside her dislike of public speaking to thank those involved.
‘I don’t think Paula ever thought she would end up running the family vineyard, but she’s done a great job with it and it’s clearly where she loves to be,’ says Schafer.
There have been bumps in her relationship with Madonna — in 2000, there was bad feeling when Madonna apparently refused to pay for Paula to travel to her second wedding in Scotland to Guy Ritchie. But she has been pictured with other family members at various Madonna tours through the years and the two sisters remain close.
‘It’s difficult having a famous sibling and constantly having to contend with someone who is regarded as being better known and more successful than you,’ Gary Johnson, a teacher for 53 years and curator of the Michigan Rock And Roll Legends Hall of Fame, previously said.
He has visited the vineyard several times and describes it as a ‘beautiful, peaceful place.’
‘The two sisters are very different characters but, just as Madonna is a successful businesswoman, so Paula has found her passion and become successful.’
There’s no doubt the two sisters do have something in common, in that they both have a keen business sense and strong work ethic.
‘Paula is a pioneering female winemaker who’s modernised the winery and brought it into the 21st century,’ says Michael Shafer. ‘She’s a talented businesswoman.’
Paula was born in 1959 in Bay City, Michigan. The two girls already had older brothers Anthony and Martin. Christopher and Melanie came along soon after.
Melanie Ciccone, 63, blissfully married and ‘closest sibling’ to Madonna
Madonna’s next sister, Melanie, pictured with husband Joe Henry, is said to be the closest sibling to the star
Gratitude: Madonna praised her rarely-seen sister Melanie (far right) during her worldwide Madame X tour ahead of her performance in Los Angeles
Madonna’s next sister, Melanie, has previously worked at the family vineyard.
And unlike Madge, who has dated a string of when three decades younger than her, Mel is the picture of marital bliss with a husband of 35 years.
Melanie’s passion, however, is to be found in her family. Happily married for more than three decades to the singer and songwriter Joe Henry — the couple have two children.
Like many 60-somethings, they are embracing a quieter life, recently moving to Maine after 30 years in Los Angeles. Here, they enjoy an idyllic existence, coming home to log fires after walks on beaches and in forests. A blissful retirement, it seems, beckons.
Down-to-earth Melanie is said to be Madonna’s closest sister and was the trusted sibling who held her hand when she gave birth to daughter Lourdes.
Often pictured hugging — ‘No one knows better than her what it’s like to survive our toxic and broken family from Michigan,’ the singer once said in tribute to Melanie — Madonna still calls her by her childhood nickname ‘Smells’.
Born in 1962, Melanie studied Spanish literature and language at Michigan State University and was a publicist for Brian Eno’s Opal Records. Her husband is an old friend of Madonna’s who met his future sister-in-law in 1975 when they were pupils at Rochester Adams High School in Michigan and members of the school’s Thespian Society.
‘[Madonna] was whip-smart and short on patience and, to tell the truth, she scared me more than a little but along with her sister Paula, her presence . . . opened a door through which I would pass and find my life utterly and for ever changed,’ Joe wrote in a 2015 birthday tribute to the pop princess.
Madonna is seen going to her first communion in 1967 with her siblings Marty, Melanie and Christopher in front
The pair have collaborated musically on some of Madonna’s hits, but it’s the introduction to Melanie that Joe is most grateful for. ‘There is no other and never has been another,’ he said on the couple’s 35th wedding anniversary. ‘My marriage has been not only the light upon my path but the path itself. Lucky me.’
After devotedly raising her children and working in music, Melanie has built a second career as a fabric artist. Her talent at quilt making and love of textiles is said to have been inspired by her grandmothers and she has shown her works at the trendy alternative Roswell Space Gallery in Los Angeles.
What she calls ‘the simple materials of everyday life’ make up her creations.
One called Un-dress, featuring recycled plastic, bird netting, silk sari rags, thread and measuring tape, is priced at $5,500. Another called Kind Of Blue, made from fisherman’s rope, printed coffee bags, tulle, butcher paper and thread, is priced at $1,900.
It’s all rather spiritual, and delicate. One admiring review called Melanie’s embroidered works on tea-stained squares of linen ‘quiet little heartaches,’ while the 61-year-old says her work makes her feel purposeful and ‘connected to a deeper sense of herself’.
Christopher Ciccone, 62, former assistant who wrote a tell-all book about sister
Once Madonna’s closest sibling, Christopher began his career as her assistant, dresser, stylist and artistic director (pictured in 1995)
Once Madonna’s closest sibling, Christopher began his career as her assistant, dresser, stylist and artistic director.
Madonna and Christopher grew up together in Michigan and learned to dance together.
Then Christopher followed Madonna to New York, where she began her long journey to wealth and superstardom.
Christopher has been Madonna’s personal assistant and dresser, her interior decorator and artistic director of her show-stopping world tours.
But the siblings haven’t been without difficulties, with Christopher writing a tell-all book about his relationship with his sister – where he claimed Guy Ritchie ‘drove at him’ and admitted the pair ‘never got along’.
He also claimed Madonna’s romance with the British director was ‘death knell for my relationship with her’.
Madonna and Christopher grew up together in Michigan and learned to dance together. Then Christopher followed Madonna to New York, where she began her long journey to wealth and superstardom (Pictured at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in 1998)
But the siblings haven’t been without difficulties, with Christopher writing a tell-all book about his relationship with his sister – where he claimed Guy Ritchie ‘drove at him’ and admitted the pair ‘never got along
He added that the Material Girl hitmaker was a ‘a middle-class girl who propagates the story that she landed in Times Square with just a pair of ballet shoes and $35 to her name,’ adding that is ‘pure mythology and the further she progresses, the more mythological her life story becomes’.
Like his brothers, he has also struggled with alcohol and drug abuse – with Madonna paying for his stints in rehab.
They fell out in 2003 when she dropped him as her tour director, the tell-all memoir, Life With My Sister Madonna, was published in 2008.
In 2016, he married British hairdresser Ray Thacker.
They fell out in 2003 when she dropped him as her tour director, the tell-all memoir, Life With My Sister Madonna, was published in 2008. Pictured in the 1990s
Rift: In 2008, the artist’s brother caused a stir with his explosive book Life With My Sister Madonna, in which he detailed their relationship from his perspective (pictured in 1999)
In an interview with Evening Standard in 2012, he said: ‘(We are) on a perfectly personable level right now. As far as I’m concerned, we’re good.
‘We are in contact with each other, although I haven’t seen her for a long time. We’re back to being a brother and sister. I don’t work for her, and it’s better this way.’
Additionally he stated his pride for his sister: ‘I couldn’t be more proud of her. She is a force to be reckoned with. Does she have Barbra Streisand’s voice? No.
‘Can she dance like Martha Graham? Probably not. But the combination of her abilities has made her great, and left a huge legacy for her, and through her, for me. So yeah, God bless her.’
Jennifer Ciccone, 64, works on family vineyard but wasn’t invited to sisters weddings
Jennifer Ciccone is pictured with her mother, Joan, at the family winery in Michigan
Art, and a love of children, again marks the life of the youngest Ciccone sister, Jennifer, who was born in 1967 and closely resembles her blonde mother, Joan.
Choosing a life away from the limelight, she first embarked on a career as an art teacher in Michigan elementary schools, with children aged five to 11.
She married at the family vineyard in 2011, and today works there, and is regarded as an essential member of the management team, along with Paula and her 54-year-old brother Mario who manages the vineyard.
It has been claimed Jennifer wasn’t invited to Madonna’s two weddings and Madonna wasn’t invited to hers.
Yet fences have presumably been mended, since Jennifer has been pictured with other family members at various Madonna concerts over the years. Bespectacled and middle-aged, she too beams in pictures with all the happiness of a life well spent.
Indeed, looking at all the sisters’ faces — last seen side-by-side two years ago posing happily with their father Tony for his 90th birthday celebrations — it’s almost impossible not to wonder if they show what Madonna would look like if she, perhaps, had taken a more conventional path.
Mario Ciccone, 53, wild child turned around that now works family vineyard
The singer’s brother Mario, seen at the family’s winery in Michigan
Like his older sisters, Madonna’s half-brother and the baby of the family, Mario has also worked at their father’s vineyard.
Perhaps the most private of the family, he previously worked at Madonna’s record company, Maverick.
He married in July 2011 and has three children, one from a previous relationship.
Like his brothers, hehad a wild period in his youth, taking cocaine and getting into fights.
He battered a motorist and broke a police officer’s nose. Madonna paid his legal bills.
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