Janet Jackson addressed the decades-long rumor that she and her ex-husband, R&B singer James DeBarge, had a “secret” baby together in the ’80s in her upcoming documentary Janet.
“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, says in the documentary per Page Six.
Jackson played Cleo Hewitt in NBC’s Fame back in 1984; the pregnancy rumor started to spread on the Season 4 set.
“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 caught off guard as well by the rumor.
“These were rumors that were just flying around, honey, like hash in a diner,” Allen says in the documentary. “Where was the baby? Nobody saw a baby. I mean, she was there with us all day, every day. Where was the baby?”
Jackson who was 18 at the time married DeBarge in September of 1984 in an attempt to get away from her strict father who also served as her manager, the late Joe Jackson. The marriage was short-lived as the two got an annulment the following year in November. Jackson wanted an annulment due to the fact that the “Rhythm of the Night” singer was allegedly using drugs and in doing so, Jackson alleges, preyed on her innocence.
“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.”
The “That’s The Way Love Goes” singer welcomed a baby boy, Eissa, in January of 2017 with her billionaire (now ex-) husband Wissam Al Mana. The two separated three months after the arrival of their son.
The documentary Janet airs Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime and A&E.