Janet Jackson Addresses Old 'Secret Baby' Rumors

'How could I keep a child from their father? I could never do that,' she says in documentary
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 27, 2022 12:55 PM CST
Janet Jackson Addresses Old 'Secret Baby' Rumors
Janet Jackson arrives at the Pre-Grammy Gala And Salute To Industry Icons at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, Jan. 25, 2020, in Beverly Hills, Calif.   (Photo by Mark Von Holden/Invision/AP)

(Newser) – A two-night documentary about Janet Jackson airs Friday and Saturday night on the Lifetime channel, and in it the star addresses a bizarre rumor about her from decades ago—that she had a secret baby with her husband of one year, James Debarge.

  • The rumor: "Back in the day they were saying that I had a child and I kept it secret," Jackson says, per People. "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." She and Debarge married in 1984, when she was 18, and divorced the following year.
  • Daughter/niece? One part of the rumor is that she had the child and gave it to her sister Rebbie to raise. “They were saying I was raising her daughter," recalls Rebbie in the documentary, per USA Today. "I don’t know where that ridiculous idea came from.”
  • Weight gain: Jackson thinks the rumor got started because she began gaining weight around that time. “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.”

  • Debarge: All of the above might be news to Debarge himself. “I was under the impression that there was no baby, and I wanted to believe it’s not true. But it is,” he told daughter Kristinia DeBarge in a 2016 episode of the WE tv series Growing Up Hip Hop, per Page Six. For the record, USA Today sees Jackson's denial as "oblique"—she doesn't explicitly deny having the child.
  • Co-star: Debbie Allen, who co-starred with Jackson in Fame back then, has this to say: “These were rumors that were just flying around, honey, like hash in a diner,” she says. “Where was the baby? Nobody saw a baby. I mean, she was there with us all day, every day. Where was the baby?”
(Read more Janet Jackson stories.)

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