Janet Jackson is once-and-for-all putting long-standing rumors that she secretly had a baby with ex-husband James DeBarge to rest in her upcoming documentary.
via Page Six:
“I could never keep a child away from James. How could I keep a child from their father? I could never do that. That’s not right,” Jackson, 55, says in the upcoming two-night Lifetime and A&E special.
The “Control” singer remembers the chatter first starting to spread in 1984 on the Season 4 set of NBC’s “Fame,” in which she played Cleo Hewitt.
“A lot of the kids thought I was pregnant ’cause I had gained weight and I had started taking birth control pills,” she says.
“And back then, you could pick up weight taking them, and that’s what happened to me, so that rumor started going around.”
Debbie Allen, who led the TV series as Lydia Grant, remembers being taken aback by their co-stars’ speculation, too.
“These were rumors that were just flying around, honey, like hash in a diner,” Allen, 72, says. “Where was the baby? Nobody saw a baby. I mean, she was there with us all day, every day. Where was the baby?”
The gossip really got out of hand, though, when people dragged Jackson’s family into it.
“First they were saying my niece Brandi was my daughter and that I gave her to [my brother] Jackie to raise,” she recalls. “And then because [my brother] Randy’s daughter looks so much like me, they started saying it was Stevanna.”
Even DeBarge, 58, himself has claimed over the years that he and his ex-wife had a child.
“I was under the impression that there was no baby, and I wanted to believe it’s not true. But it is,” he told his daughter Kristinia DeBarge in a November 2016 episode of the WE tv series “Growing Up Hip Hop.”
Jackson eloped with James in September 1984 when they were 18 and 21, respectively. She had already released two albums to middling success by that point and wanted to independence from her notoriously controlling father and manager, Joe Jackson.
But the couple’s marriage was short-lived, ending in an annulment in November 1985 after Janet found out that the “Rhythm of the Night” crooner had been using drugs.
“I was just incredibly innocent,” she says with tears in her eyes in the documentary. “It’s just, to me, hurtful for someone to see that and just try to take advantage of it.”
Janet did become a mother decades later when she and her third husband, billionaire businessman Wissam Al Mana, welcomed a son, Eissa, in January 2017. The pair separated only three months later.
‘Janet Jackson’ airs Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime and A&E.