Celebrity

Janet Jackson finally addresses rumours she had a secret baby as a teenager

Nola Ojomu January 27, 2022
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Janet Jackson in 2020, and Janet Jackson with James DeBarge

Janet Jackson with her ex-husband James DeBarge. (Getty/Ron Galella/Steve Granitz)

Janet Jackson has set the record straight over the long-standing rumour that she secretly had a baby with her ex-husband, James DeBarge, back in the 1980s.

The pioneering pop icon has opened up like never before in her new documentary special, titled Janet, which sees her hit back at claims she became a mother when she was a teen.

In a preview from the upcoming Lifetime and A&E special, Janet Jackson stated: “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.”

Janet and the American R&B and soul singer James Curtis DeBarge tied the knot in 1984 (aged 18 and 21, respectively), with pregnancy rumours beginning to swirl later that same year.

DeBarge is best known for his work with his family’s band DeBarge, whose hits included “Love Me in a Special Way”, “Rhythm of the Night” and “All This Love”.

Janet recalled how speculation began to spread on the set of her NBC series, Fame, which saw the singer star as Cleo Hewitt.

“A lot of the kids thought I was pregnant ’cause I had gained weight and I had started taking birth control pills,” the “Control” singer explained. “And back then, you could pick up weight taking them, and that’s what happened to me, so that rumour started going around.”

Speaking in the documentary, Janet Jackson’s Fame co-star Debbie Allen admitted she had been shocked to learn the set was full of rumours about the alleged pregnancy.

The 72-year-old – who played Lydia Grant – said: “These were rumours that were just flying around, honey, like hash in a diner. Where was the baby? Nobody saw a baby. I mean, she was there with us all day, every day. Where was the baby?”

Janet Jackson and her ex-husband James DeBarge in July 1984
Janet Jackson and James DeBarge in July 1984 (Photo by Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images)

Janet went on to explain that things got out of hand when people began to spread claims about her family members due to the rumours.

The “Together Again” singer explained: “First they were saying my niece Brandi was my daughter and that I gave her to [my brother] Jackie to raise.

“And then because [my brother] Randy’s daughter looks so much like me, they started saying it was Stevanna.”

Things were made worse when DeBarge himself claimed that the former couple had secretly welcomed a child together.

Speaking to his daughter Kristinia DeBarge in a November 2016 episode of Growing Up Hip Hop, the singer claimed: “I was under the impression that there was no baby, and I wanted to believe it’s not true. But it is.”

The four-part Janet Jackson documentary premieres this January.
The four-part Janet Jackson documentary premieres this January. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for MTV)

Janet Jackson and James Curtis DeBarge’s marriage ended with an annulment in 1985 after she discovered that he had been using drugs.

Reflecting on the end of the marriage, a teary-eyed Janet stated: “I was just incredibly innocent. It’s just, to me, hurtful for someone to see that and just try to take advantage of it.”

The pregnancy revelation is just one of many topics covered in the Janet Jackson documentary, which also focuses on happy moments such as her becoming a mother in 2017.

The “That’s The Way Love Goes” singer and billionaire businessman Wissam Al Mana, welcomed a son, Eissa, in January that year, before splitting three months later.

Janet also explores her relationships with her late father, Joe, and brother, Michael, as well as the infamous 2004 Super Bowl “wardrobe malfunction” with Justin Timberlake.

The four-part documentary will premiere in the UK with a two-night special on Sky Documentaries and NOW on 31 January.

The double-bill will air over two consecutive nights, with parts three and four to premiere in the following weeks.

Meanwhile, US fans can watch the first part of the documentary on 28 January on Lifetime.

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