Janet Jackson Denies Having a Secret Baby With Ex-Husband James DeBarge and More Documentary Reveals

Janet Jackson Addresses Secret Baby Rumors Documentary I Could Never

Janet Jackson attends the 14th Annual American Music Awards on January 26, 1987 at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California

Pulling back the curtain. Janet Jackson is known for being fiercely private, but her new documentary allowed her to address longstanding misconceptions about her family and career.

The Grammy winner, 55, began filming the two-part Lifetime series in 2017 when she invited a production crew to document her State of the World tour. They stayed with her for a full five years.

Part one of the documentary premiered on Friday, January 28, and included interviews with her mother, Katherine Jackson, her brothers Tito and Randy Jackson and her sister Rebbie Jackson, as well as collaborators Debbie Allen, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Missy Elliott and Paula Abdul.

As the baby of the family, the “Black Cat” singer was a small child when her brothers rose to fame as the Jackson Five. She performed on stage for the first time in 1974 when she was just 7 years old, as part of her family’s Las Vegas show. “I don’t ever remember being asked,” the Indiana native recalled in Janet Jackson. “I just remember being put into it.”

Over the years, other Jackson siblings have been vocal about how their father, Joe Jackson, pushed them into show business, and some of them have alleged that his methods included abuse. In 1991, La Toya Jackson claimed that Joe, who died in 2018 at age 89, sexually abused her and her sisters when they were children. (The Jackson family denied this allegation at the time.)

Michael Jackson, for his part, once said that “just a look” from his father could scare him. “When he’d come to see me, I’d get sick,” the late “Bad” singer, said in 1992. “I’d start to regurgitate.” Joe later responded by telling the BBC: “He regurgitates all the way to the bank.”

Janet didn’t address the abuse accusations in part one of the film, but she emphasized Joe’s heavy focus on the children’s careers. “I remember stories about my mother allowing my brothers and sisters to play outside, and then they’d see my father’s car coming down the street and run into the house and pick up their instruments and start playing like they were rehearsing all along,” she said, adding that they’d yell, ‘Joseph’s coming, Joseph’s coming!’”

The “All for You” songstress went on to say that her parents “disciplined” all of their kids, but she claimed that they always followed it up with love. “Discipline without love is tyranny. And tyrants they were not,” she explained. “They just loved us and wanted us to be the best that we could possibly be. Obviously, it worked.”

Keep scrolling for revelations from Janet Jackson.

Janet Jackson Addresses Secret Baby Rumors Documentary I Could-Never Joe Jackson

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Her Father’s Influence

After the Jackson Five fired their father as their manager, Joe began to focus on Janet’s solo career. “Growing up, I feel like I didn’t really experience my father the way I wanted to,” she explained. “The way I saw other kids experiencing their father.”

The Jackson family patriarch spearheaded the creation of Janet’s first two albums and helped her land a role on Good Times, but the True You author didn’t think any of that truly reflected her as an artist. Her father chose the cover photo for her 1984 album, Dream Street, against her wishes, and he pushed her to join the cast of Fame that same year. “I did it for my father,” she said of her involvement with the show.

Janet decided to fire her dad before recording 1986’s Control, which made her a bona fide pop star. “It’s hard to say no to my father, so in order to do the things I wanted to do, I guess he would have to be out of the picture,” she said in the film. “I knew that I had to take control of my life. I wanted my own identity. I wanted to go on my own.”

Janet Jackson Addresses Secret Baby Rumors Documentary I Could Never

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What She Really Wanted

When she was a child, the “If” singer joined her family in Vegas while they were there for her brothers’ show. Though she got to meet celebrities and watch her brothers perform, she longed for a slightly more mundane life. “None of us had a normal childhood,” she explained. “My friends, they went to gymnastics class. They were part of the Girl Scouts or Brownies. And I wanted to do those things. But yet, we had to go to work.”

Janet’s dad discovered how well she could sing after she taped herself at home and accidentally left the recording in the family’s studio. Once her father heard the tape, he decided she should pursue a career in music.

“I wanted to go to college and study business law,” she recalled. “And he said, ‘That’s not gonna happen,’ basically in a nutshell. What parent doesn’t want you to go to college? But he said, ‘No, you’re gonna sing.’ Not long after that, I had a meeting at A&M and signed my recording contract.”

Janet Jackson Addresses Secret Baby Rumors Documentary I Could Never James DeBarge

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Her 1st Marriage

Janet began dating her first husband, James DeBarge, when she was 16. They eloped in 1984 when she was 18, with DeBarge’s uncle marrying them in a secret ceremony in Grand Rapids, Michigan. On their wedding night, the Poetic Justice actress began to suspect that something was amiss when her then-husband, now 58, left her alone in their hotel room for three hours.

Taking care of the Michigan native began to affect her work on Fame because she would show up late after searching for her spouse all night. “I eventually learned that he was into drugs,” she recalled. “I remember times when I would find the pills and I would take them and try to flush them down the toilet, and we would be rolling around the floor fighting for them. That’s not a life for anyone. I sit and I say, ‘Were you stupid? Were you dumb?’ But it wasn’t that. I cared so much for him.”

Janet and DeBarge annulled their union in 1985 after one year of marriage.

Janet Jackson Addresses Secret Baby Rumors Documentary I Could Never

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The Infamous Rumor

The Diff’rent Strokes alum finally addressed — and denied — the longtime rumor that she had a child she kept secret both from DeBarge and the public. “I could never keep a child away from James,” she said. “How could I keep a child from their father? I could never do that. That’s not right.”

The Why Did I Get Married? star partly blamed the rumor’s spread on the fact that she gained weight while she was filming Fame — not from being pregnant, but from taking birth control pills.

Janet Jackson Addresses Secret Baby Rumors Documentary I Could Never Michael Jackson

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Janet and Michael

As a child, Janet was closest to Michael and Randy, who called themselves the “three amigos.” Early in Michael’s solo career, he drove his youngest sister around in his car while playing his albums so she could tell him what she thought. That began to change, however, around the time that Thriller debuted in 1982.

“For the first time in my life, that’s when I felt it was different between the two of us,” she recalled. “That a shift was happening. He would always come in my room and we would talk, and this particular time he came in my bedroom, neither one of us said a word to each other. And then he got up and left. That’s a time where Mike and I started kind of going our separate ways, we weren’t as close. And it may have been just because he was so massive, so huge.”

The “Together Again” singer occasionally tried to distance herself from her family, saying that she didn’t even want her last name on her first two albums so that people wouldn’t associate her with her brothers. At the same time, she looked to Michael for inspiration, attending his Bad tour in 1988 before launching her own inaugural solo tour in 1990.

Janet Jackson Addresses Secret Baby Rumors Documentary I Could Never Michael Jackson Rene Elizondo

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Meeting René

Janet got engaged to her second husband, René Elizondo Jr., in 1987. “I needed to just be free of being with somebody that did drugs and all of that,” she said of the choreographer, now 59. “I needed it, I needed a lift. René was funny. We just always had fun together. And he was very, very charming.”

The dancer gradually became involved in Janet’s career, directing some of her music videos and cowriting some of her songs. Asked in the documentary if she thought the marriage would be “it” for her, she replied, “I wanted it to be it. But I thought that every time.” The duo divorced in 2000.

Janet Jackson Documentary Reveals

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Taking Center Stage on ‘Rolling Stone’

“I thought that was very bold of me, to be quite honest, to unleash that within my family,” Janet said of going topless for the September 1993 magazine cover, in which Elizondo Jr. held her bare breasts. “With everybody else, it was probably no big issue, but I’m talking about my family because that’s not how we were brought up. I do what I do because it’s something that is something that I feel at that moment. I mean, I was happy.”

Janet Jackson Documentary Reveals

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Guilty By Association

The “Thriller” crooner was accused of sexual abuse in 1993. Amid a police investigation and court proceedings, both Michael and his family continually asserted his innocence. (Michael eventually settled the case in January 1994, offering the alleged victim $22 million.)

“[Coca Cola] approached me because my brothers worked with Pepsi,” the “Again” performer noted on Saturday about a potential sponsorship. “We were actually getting ready to sign the deal with Coca Cola and that’s when that first allegation came out. When that came out, Coca Cola said, ‘No thank you.’ … But that’s the way the world is [that I was affected by his scandal]. Of course [the allegations affected my life]. My brother would never do something like that, but I’m still guilty by association if that’s what they call that, right?”

Janet, for her part, never thought the late musician was guilty, claiming in Saturday’s episode: “I know my brother. He didn’t have that in him.”

Janet Jackson Documentary Reveals

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Keeping Things Separate

Amid the “Bad” singer’s scandal, he teamed up with Janet on their “Scream” duet in 1995.

“It was tough. It was only supposed to be a three-day shoot, I forgot how long it went on for,” Janet remembered. “It cost $7 million to do, it was supposed to cost a lot less than that. Michael shot nights and I shot days. His record company would block off his whole set so that I could not see what was going on. They didn’t want me on set, I felt like they were trying to make it very competitive between the two of us. I wanted it to feel like old times between he and I, and it didn’t. Old times had long past.”

Janet Jackson Documentary Reveals

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The End of Her 2nd Marriage

“The whole René situation started to get sour,” she recalled in Saturday’s episode. “He was always constantly on me on the way I looked. ‘You have to look like your video.’ … And I believed that. I’m an emotional eater, so when I get stressed or something’s really bothering me, it comforts me and I’ll try to do things to pull it down, bring it down, try to diet, but I can’t keep it down. I probably would have wound up not having a problem [had I not been in the public eye].”

René filed for divorce from the “Together Again” songstress in 2000 after they separated in January 1999.

Janet added: “I started thinking, ‘Were you with me for the fame? Were you with me for the money? Were you with me for my family’s name?’ I mean, those things go through your head.”

Janet Jackson Documentary Reveals

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Brother-Sister Jokes

“When I was 10 years old, I did Good Times and that’s the beginning of having weight issues and the way I looked at myself,” Janet claimed. “I was developing at a very young age and I started getting a chest, and they would bind my chest so I would look more flat-chested. And then there were times when Mike used to tease me and call me names. He used to call me pig, horse, slaughter hog and cow. It wasn’t out of malice on his part at all. Brothers tease sisters, sisters tease brothers and it was just fun and funny. But, then there was somewhere down inside that would hurt when you have someone say ‘you’re too heavy’ even if it was out of love, it affects you.”

Janet Jackson Documentary Reveals

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Moving On From Nipple-Gate

“Honestly, this whole thing was blown way out of proportion and of course it was an accident that should not have happened, but everyone is looking for someone to blame and that’s gotta stop,” Janet broke her silence on the 2004 Super Bowl drama during Saturday’s episode. “Justin [Timberlake] and I are very good friends and we will always be very good friends. We spoke just a few days ago, and he and I have moved on and it’s time for everyone else to do the same.”

Janet Jackson Documentary Reveals

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Learning of Michael’s Death

The late King of Pop died in June 2009, which came as a shock to the “Made For Now” vocalist.

“At first it just didn’t seem true, it didn’t seem real. I couldn’t believe it,” the Oscar nominee opened up in Saturday’s episode. “It took a while for me to accept. It makes you think about life. The last time we saw each other, we’re having a surprise party for my parents and my whole family was there and he was sitting next to me, he was laughing like crazy and he had that deep laugh, and I remember him looking over at me. And the last thing we said to each other was, ‘I love you.’ And that was the last time I saw him, but at least I had that and I miss him.”

Janet Jackson Documentary Reveals

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Proud Mom

The Indiana native and Wissam Al Mana welcomed son Eissa in January 2017. (The couple split in April 2017 after quietly tying the knot in 2012.)

“They might say I was too old [when I had Eissa], I say that’s bullcrap,” Janet admitted about her motherhood journey. “It wasn’t easy and I kept trying and I kept trying and you know, this injection, that injection, doing this, going to a doctor in Italy, going to a doctor in Switzerland. It was a lot, I refused to give up and I have a beautiful, healthy boy because of it. … I love my new job.”

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