Janet Jackson addresses the ongoing rumors that she and her ex-husband James DeBarge had a secret baby in the 1980s. The artist is officially putting the chatter to bed in her upcoming self-titled documentary that premieres on Lifetime and A&E Friday (Jan. 28) and Saturday (Jan. 29).
The Rhythm Nation artist recalls the gossip starting during Season 4 of the classic show Fame in 1984; Jackson played Cleo Hewitt.
“A lot of the kids thought I was pregnant ’cause I had gained weight and I had started taking birth control pills,” she says, according to PEOPLE. “And back then, you could pick up weight by taking by them, and that’s what happened to me, so that rumor started going around.”
Debbie Allen, who appears in the doc and played Lydia Grant in the NBC series, also shares her point of view regarding pregnancy speculation.
“These were rumors that were just flying around, honey, like hash in a diner,” Allen said. “Where was the baby? Nobody saw a baby. I mean, she was there with us all day, every day. Where was the baby?”
Jackson added: “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 couple eloped in Sept. 1984 when they were just 18 and 21. However, their marriage ended in an annulment the following year after discovering that DeBarge had been using drugs during their marriage.
At one point, the alleged secret baby rumors infiltrated the Jackson family.
“First they were saying my niece Brandi was my daughter and that I gave her to [my brother] Jackie to raise,” she recalls. “And then because [my brother] Randy’s daughter looks so much like me, they started saying it was Stevanna.”
And on a 2016 episode of the WE tv series Growing Up Hip Hop, DeBarge told his daughter Kristina that he and Jackson did actually have a child together.
While Jackson still maintains that she never had a child with DeBarge, she did welcome a son, Eissa, in 2017 with her third husband, billionaire businessman Wissam Al Mana. The couple separated three months later.
Janet Jackson premieres Friday (Jan. 28) and Saturday (Jan. 29) at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime and A&E.