1. Carey was born on March 27, 1970 (we think) to Alfred Roy Carey and Patricia Hickey, who'd been disowned by her family for marrying a man of African-American and Afro-Venezuelan descent. They divorced when Carey was three.
2. Her name comes from the song "They Call the Wind Maria" from the 1951 Broadway musical Paint Your Wagon. Though it isn't spelled the same, it is pronounced the same.
3. When she was young, her family, which includes two older siblings, was subjected to racist attacks because of her parents' interracial marriage. Their dogs were poisoned and a car was blown up. "That was the beginning of a nightmare," Patricia told Oprah Winfrey during a 1999 interview with her daughter. "When we were eating one night, someone fired a shot through the window. Luckily, none of the children were in the room."
4. While attending Harborfields High School in Greenlawn, New York, she earned the nickname Mirage because of how often she skipped class. According to her unauthorized 2001 biography by Marc Shapiro, her truancy was of great concern for guidance counselor John Garvey. "You could talk to her until you were blue in the face, and it didn't do any good," Garvey said in the book. When you talked to her about it, she'd let you know it wasn't that important in her life because she was going to be a rock star." Carey's response? "I don't blame them for trying to encourage me to do better scholastically because they never saw me sing."
5. While recording her third album Music Box, she and Columbia Records head Tommy Mottola began dating. They tied the knot in a lavish ceremony in June 5, 1993. They eventually separated in 1997, with Carey citing his controlling nature and growing creative differences at the catalyst for their relationship's deterioration. Carey opened up about the relationship on her E! reality series, Mariah's World, saying "I was with someone at the time that had a lot of control over my life. He was older than me by a lot and had a lot of power and he wanted me to remain away from most people, like sequestered. I had to get permission to leave [the house]…I never thought I would get out of there."
6. The first song she ever composed was written alongside Gavin Christopher and 6 while she was still in high school. Called "Here We Go 'Round Again," Carey has described the track, which was featured on her four-song demo tape, as having a Motown vibe.
7. After graduating high school, she moved into a one-bedroom apartment in Manhattan that she shared with four other female students. She worked as a waitress and a coat check girl while also studying cosmetology—all while pursuing her dreams of a music career.
8. At two, Carey stunned her mom, a vocal coach and occasional opera singer, by imitating her operatic singing. She began taking singing lessons at four, developing a voice that would span five octaves—a nearly superhuman feat.
9. After meeting rising pop singer Brenda K. Starr, Carey tagged along as her new friend attended a Christmas party hosted by CBS Records. Starr convinced her to bring along her demo tape, which made its way into the hands of the head of Columbia Records, Mottola. All it took was two songs to convince Mottola to sign her.
10. Carey's debut eponymous album was released on June 12, 1990. She earned two Grammys following its release, including one for Best New Artist, and it made her the first musical act since the Jackson 5 to have their first four singles reach number one.
11. Carey's had a life-long affection for Marilyn Monroe and, in 1999, she paid over $600,000 for the icon's white baby grand piano when it came up for auction at Christie's.
12. After meeting comedian Nick Cannon on the set of her music video for "Bye Bye" in 2008, she began dating the comedian. Within two months, they got married, tying the knot on April 30 in a secret ceremony in the Bahamas. They split in 2014.
13. Though she suffered a miscarriage shortly after marrying Cannon, the couple would welcome twins Moroccan and Monroe in 2011. Monroe was named after Carey's idol, Marilyn Monroe, while Moroccan was named after the décor in the room where his father proposed to his mother.
14. In 2008, Carey got herself into some hot water when she performed in a New Year's Eve concert for the family of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi. She would later claim to "feel horrible and embarrassed to have participated in the event," with her rep Cindi Berger promising in March 2011 that royalties for her upcoming song "Save The Day" would be donated to charities that create awareness for human rights issues. "Save The Day" was never released.
15. In 2001, after a bizarre appearance on TRL that involved her showing up unannounced, pushing an ice cream cart, and stripping off her clothes, she spent two weeks recovering in a Connecticut mental hospital, citing extreme exhaustion for her breakdown. She later revealed in 2018 that she had been diagnosed with bipolar II disorder at the time, but kept her diagnosis private. "I'm just in a really good place right now, where I'm comfortable discussing my struggles with bipolar II disorder," she told People at the time. "I'm hopeful we can get to a place where the stigma is lifted from people going through anything alone. It can be incredibly isolating. It does not have to define you and I refuse to allow it to define me or control me."
16. Just months after her stay in the institution, Carey unleashed Glitter on the world. The film and its soundtrack were such bombs that they prompted Virgin Records to buy her out of her record deal for $50 million. She would sign a contract with Island Records in early 2002, launching the record label MonarC in the process.
17. Glitter isn't the only film Carey has appeared in over the years. She earned some pretty great reviews for her work as a social worker in friend Lee Daniels' award-winning 2009 film Precious. In 2013, she appeared in another Daniels' film, The Butler, playing Hattie Pearl, the mother of the film's titular butler, Cecil Gaines (played by Forest Whitaker).
18. Until 2017 "One Sweet Day," Carey's song with Boyz II Men, was the longest-running number one song in history, with 16 weeks spent atop the Billboard Hot 100 in 1995-96. It shared the honor with Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's "Despacito," featuring Justin Bieber, for a time before Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" surpassed it in the summer of 2019.
19. According to Page Six, Carey's two Jack Russell terriers only fly first class and each with their own respective staff member. Why? Because they apparently loathe one another. "Mariah's dogs only fly first. But the two pets hate each other, so [they] have to be placed in separate kennels for the journey and travel with two separate members of her staff," a source told the outlet in 2016.
20. Following a career resurgence with the 2005 release of The Emancipation of Mimi, Carey begun lending her name and likeness to endorsement deals for the first time in her career, beginning with ads for Intel Centrino personal computers. In 2006, after signing a contract with Gillette's "Legs of a Goddess" campaign, Carey reportedly insured her legs for $1 billion.
21. After meeting him through her longtime pal, director Brett Ratner, at a movie premiere in Aspen, Colo., Carey became engaged to Australian businessman James Packer in January 2016. The billionaire, who formed the joint production company RatPac Entertainment with Ratner, proposed with a 35-carat ring. The engagement was called off by October, as both insinuated the relationship ended because of the other's issues.
22. Carey's classic 1994 album Merry Christmas has sold over 15 million copies worldwide, making it the best-selling Christmas album of all time. 25 years after its release, in late December of 2019, her beloved single "All I Want for Christmas Is You" hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the first time, breaking several records (including longest trip to the top) in the process. While extending her record as the solo artist with the most No. 1 singles on the Hot 100, the achievement also made her the only artist in history to have a No. 1 song in four consecutive decades.
23. Her godmother is Patti LaBelle, and the R&B icon has admitted to slapping her goddaughter around back in the day.
24. After Packer, Carey quickly rebounded with backup dancer Bryan Tanaka, the early stages of their relationship captured by Mariah's World cameras.
25. She does not know Jennifer Lopez. So stop asking her.