One of the long-standing claims being addressed in “Janet” is that Jackson secretly had a baby during their brief marriage.
Legendary performer Janet Jackson’s life will be explored this weekend in a two-part documentary event airing on Lifetime and A&E.
The film, simply titled Janet, will also address many of the rumors that have swirled around the singer-actress for years.
One of the long-standing rumors reportedly being addressed in “Janet,” the upcoming two-part documentary about Janet Jackson (above), is that she had a secret child in her youth. (Photo: Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images)
According to new reporting from People, one of the long-standing rumors to be addressed is that Jackson had a secret child during her brief marriage to James DeBarge. It was also rumored that the child was raised by one of her siblings.
“Back in the day, they were saying that I had a child, and I kept it secret,” Jackson said. “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.”
The superstar believes the rumor began when she was filming the 1980s television show, Fame. She says that, at the time, she was taking birth control pills, which caused her to gain weight.
“A lot of the kids thought I was pregnant, ’cause I had gained weight, and I had started taking birth control pills,” she said. “And back then, you could pick up weight taking them, and that’s what happened to me. So that rumor started going around.”
Jackson and DeBarge — a member of his family’s singing group, DeBarge, which had several hit songs in the 1980s — eloped in 1984 when she was 18 years old and he was 21. Jackson said that while she thought of him as “a sweet guy,” their union ultimately ended because of his addiction to cocaine.
“When we got married and came back to the hotel, he said, ‘OK, I’ll be right back,’” she recalled of their wedding night. “And I’m sitting in the hotel room in Grand Rapids, Michigan by myself, just 18, and for three hours, he never came back. I don’t know, maybe it’s this person in me that wants to help people subconsciously. When it comes to relationships, somehow I’m attracted to people that use drugs.”
Jackson claimed that she and DeBarge would frequently fight over his drug use. “We would be rolling on the floor fighting for them,” she said. “And that’s not a life for anyone.”
“I sit, and I say, ‘Were you stupid, were you dumb?’ But it wasn’t that,” said Jackson. “I cared so much for him, and I saw the good in him as well, and I just wanted that to take precedence as opposed to this ugliness. ‘Cause I knew that he needed help. But I wasn’t the help that he needed.”
After one year, the couple’s marriage was dissolved. “I was just incredibly innocent,” Jackson said of the relationship. “That’s the thing, is the innocence. And it’s just hurtful for someone to see that and just try to take advantage of it … It’s still painful.”
In a 2016 appearance on Growing Up Hip Hop, in which his daughter, Kristinia DeBarge, was a cast member, DeBarge himself seemed to confirm the rumor. “I’m tired of the secrecy. I’m tired of the truth not coming forward and people being a coward when it comes to it,” he tells his daughter in response to an article she’s read. “And I thought it was wise for me to speak out now because it needs to be addressed.”
“To be honest with you, I didn’t know,” he continues. “I was under the impression that there was no baby, and I wanted to believe it’s not true. But it is.”
His sister, Bunny DeBarge, said the following year that her family still believes Jackson was pregnant by James when their marriage was annulled. “That has haunted the family a long time … I think we all believe that James and Janet had a child.”
In 2017, a Philadelphia woman named Tiffany Whyte claimed to be Jackson and James’ daughter — an occurrence Bunny DeBarge says has happened at least 10 times. Her mother, Etterlene DeBarge, believed Whyte’s claim that she was the couple’s long, lost child. However, Bunny disputed that and apologized to her former sister-in-law.
“I do believe my mother being up and age now  ran with it once the DNA came back that she was 96 percent kin,” Bunny said. “I tried to explain to momma that the girl is kin to her. [But] there is no way she belongs to the DeBarge Jackson family.”
Still, Bunny has contended in the past that she personally witnessed Jackson being pregnant.
Jackson has a 5-year-old son, Eissa, with her former husband, Wissam Al Mana.
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