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(Reuters) - Speculation that U.S. pop singer Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie plan to divorce grew on Wednesday after a report in a British newspaper said the couple would announce the split "imminently."
Here are some facts about Madonna, one of the most successful pop stars of all time:
-- Madonna Louise Veronica Ciccone was born in Bay City, Michigan on August 16, 1958, the third of eight children in a devout Italian Catholic family.
-- Her breakthrough came in 1984 when she signed a record deal and made her first two big hits "Like a Virgin" and "Holiday." She was on her way.
-- In 1985 she married Hollywood wild boy Sean Penn and landed one of her most memorable screen roles in "Desperately Seeking Susan."
-- Madonna convinced director Alan Parker to give her the biographical role of Eva Peron in the musical film "Evita" that won her a Golden Globe Award. She has so far appeared in about 20 films.
-- The Recording Industry Association of America has described her as the best-selling female rock artist of the 20th century and the second top-selling female artist in the United States with 63 million certified album sales.
-- Guinness World Records list her as the world's most successful female recording artist of all time and the top-earning female singer with an estimated net worth of more than $400 million, having sold more than 200 million records worldwide.
-- In 1989, the video for "Like A Prayer" (her third trans-atlantic chart-topper), with its links between religion and eroticism, was condemned by the Vatican and caused Pepsi-Cola to cancel a sponsorship deal with the star. Madonna surprised fans last month by dedicating another of her hits, "Like a Virgin," to the pope at a concert in Rome.
-- The resulting publicity helped the album of the same title to become a global best-seller.
-- In her 1990 "Blonde Ambition" tour, she famously wore a Jean Paul Gaultier conical bra and covered the stage in religious imagery. The Vatican called it "one of the most satanic shows in the history of humanity."
-- In 1992, her erotic book "Sex," in which she posed nude in a series of provocative poses, was panned.
-- At the 2003 MTV Video Music Awards Madonna french-kissed Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera as they performed her classic song "Like A Virgin."
-- At a party hosted by ex-Police front man Sting she met British film director Guy Ritchie and they married in December 2000. Her son, Rocco Ritchie, was born in August 2000. Last month Ritchie broke his silence over rumours that the marriage was on the rocks, telling People magazine it was "fine."
-- In May, a Malawian court formally approved her adoption of David Banda, a baby boy she took home from an orphanage in the poor southern African country. The move was controversial, with critics accusing the government of skirting laws barring non-residents from adopting children in Malawi, which has been badly affected by the AIDS epidemic.
Writing by David Cutler, London Editorial Reference Unit, editing by Kate Kelland