THREE-MINUTE BIOGRAPHY: From girl-next-door to icon, Kylie Minogue keeps spinning around

Headshot of Malcolm Quekett
Malcolm Quekett
The Nightly
Kylie Minogue
Kylie Minogue Credit: The Nightly

Kylie.

At the top of the entertainment world they only need one name.

OK, it’s Kylie Minogue. But she’s been a star so long, the surname has almost disappeared.

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In a career spanning five decades Kylie has effortlessly evolved from soapie actress to pop singer to businesswoman and cultural icon.

And the latest business venture is going well. So well that young US singer and actor Renee Rapp recently thought of Kylie and wine and not Kylie and music.

In a quiz by UK’s Magic Radio, Rapp, the star of the Mean Girls reboot was perplexed about the Princess of Pop.

“I don’t know who that … Does she have prosecco now?” Rapp asked. “I was in London last month and somebody was like, ‘We brought Kylie Minogue prosecco’,” Rapp said.

To be fair, Kylie Minogue Wines is big, having sold more than 15 million bottles globally.

But such is the love for Kylie in Blighty — and vica versa — that it is understandable one of Rapp’s co-stars said she had an idea Kylie might be British.

The reason? “She’s always on (UK chat show) Graham Norton”.

While Kylie was born and raised in Melbourne, the 56-year-old has been unofficially adopted by Britain, her home for decades.

Her career began Down Under. As Beth Taylor recounts for the National Film and Sound Archives, Kylie was a child star, at age eight, playing Carla for eight episodes of Australian drama The Sullivans — and her sister Dannii later appeared in the role.

Her turn starring as Charlene in Neighbours — a show that inspired many Brits to dream of a life in Oz — began a rapid career rise in 1986.

In 1987 when Kylie met legendary producers Stock, Aitken and Waterman in London, her music career took off.

Britain’s The Sun says the trio had forgotten she was coming — so wrote her big early hit I Should Be So Lucky in 40 minutes while she waited.

Kylie, her bouncy 80s perm and her fresh-faced enthusiasm did the rest. The song soared up the charts.

Her debut album, Kylie, was released in 1988, and the single The Locomotion reached No.3 on Billboard.

The instant earworm was the highest-selling Australian single of the 1980s.

A still from the Kylie Minogue - The Locomotion music video.
A still from the Kylie Minogue - The Locomotion music video. Credit: YouTube/YouTube

The girl next door — then just 20 — had been dating Neighbours co-star Jason Donovan but her life headed in a different direction in 1989 when she met the charismatic but ultimately doomed 29-year-old dark prince of Australian rock, INXS frontman Michael Hutchence.

The pair dated until 1991. “He was a dark bad boy and I was the pure good girl,” Kylie told the documentary Mystify: Michael Hutchence, in 2019.

Hutchence’s life was cut short in 1997 when he was found dead in a Sydney hotel room.

Kylie told A Current Affair in 2014: “He broke my heart. I have to confess that the hurt stayed for quite a long time.”

There have been other romances since. And although none has gone the distance, Kylie‘s career has remained turbocharged.

Kylie is the highest-selling Australian-born solo artist of all time, selling more than 80 million records; she was the first person to win four Logie Awards in one year and her hit Can’t Get You Out Of My Head went to No.1 in more than 40 countries.

There have been other business ventures including fashion and perfume, movie roles and Australian tourism campaigns. She is an Officer of the Order of Australia.

The gay community is particularly steadfast in its support, and Kylie has played at Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Party three times, and headlined World Pride.

Kylie Minogue performs during Live and Proud: Sydney WorldPride Opening Concert on February 24, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Don Arnold/Getty Images)
Kylie Minogue performs at Live and Proud: Sydney WorldPride Opening Concert in February 2023. Credit: Don Arnold/Getty Images

When Kylie was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2005 it drove publicity about the importance of early detection and a surge in screenings. After treatment, Kylie was declared cancer-free in 2006.

Her 16th studio album, Tension, featured the chart-topping single Padam Padam, which in February brought Kylie her second Grammy.

Kylie was listed as an “Icon” in Time Magazine’s 100 most influential people of 2024, and Coldplay singer Chris Martin paid tribute.

“She lives her life so gracefully and approaches every project with such passion and dedication . . . Kylie creates a space where everyone is safe to be themselves.

“When I look at her, I feel hope.”

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