Janet Jackson, 55, is opening up like never before in her new Lifetime and A&E documentary. Janet, which premieres Friday (Jan. 28), features the iconic singer, actress, and dancer getting candid about her professional and personal life. One of the topics Janet discusses is her marriages. She’s been married three times, and all three relationships failed to last long-term. As the world learns more about Janet Jackson, here’s what to know about the three men who have called the multi-talented superstar their wife.
Janet’s first marriage was to James DeBarge, 58. James, an R&B/soul singer who was a member of the singing family group DeBarge, married Janet in 1984, when he was 21 and she was just 18. The couple dated for two years prior to marrying. At the time, Janet had just released her second solo album Dream Street, which followed her self titled debut in 1982. The marriage was considered an act of rebellion by a teenage Janet against her controlling father, the late Joe Jackson. The relationship was annulled in 1985 due to his alleged drug addiction.
Rumors have persisted over the years that the pair had a secret child together, which James discussed on the series Growing Up Hip-Hop back in 2016. “I’m tired of the secrecy,” he said to his daughter on a clip from the show. “I’m tired of the truth not coming forward, and people being a coward when it comes to it. And I thought it was wise for me to speak out now because it needs to be addressed.” Janet also talked about those rumors in the Janet documentary. “Back in the day they were saying that I had a child and I kept it secret. I could never keep a child away from James,” she said, according to People. “How could I keep a child from their father? I could never do that, that’s not right.”
Janet’s second marriage was to Mexican dancer and songwriter René Elizondo, 59. They met while René, who is also a music video director, was working on a film. Janet and René got engaged on a beach and tied the knot on March 31, 1991, six years after her split from James. “I needed to just be free of being with somebody that did drugs and all of that,” she said in the doc, per People. “I needed a lift. René was funny, just always had fun together. He was very, very charming.”
Janet and René’s marriage was kept a secret from the public until the pair sadly split in 2000. René reportedly sued Janet for between $10 and $25 million after the divorce, but the exes eventually reached a settlement. She further reflected on her second ill-fated marriage in the documentary. “We were out on the beach, it was raining like crazy, and that’s when he asked me to marry him,” she recalled of René’s proposal. “James never proposed to me. He never gave me a ring or anything like that, so it was different. I wanted it to be it. But I thought that every time.”
Wissam Al Mana
Wissam Al Mana, 47, is the third person to marry Janet. The Qatari billionaire CEO dated the “Rhythm Nation” songstress for several years, before they got married in 2012. Janet kept this relationship pretty private, and didn’t even publicly reveal the marriage until 2013. She said in an interview, “The rumors regarding an extravagant wedding are simply not true. Last year we were married in a quiet, private, and beautiful ceremony.” Fans were shocked once again when they realized that Janet and Wissam welcomed their son Eissa together in January 2017. But just three months later, the couple called it quits, and Janet announced the news herself in a rare video she posted to Instagram.
“I just want to keep it real for you guys for a second – yes I separated from my husband,” Janet said in the clip. She went on to talk about how they’re figuring out details of their divorce in court and added, “The rest is in God’s hands.”
Janet and Wissam still have not finalized their divorce. The exes are continuing to co-parent their son, who recently turned 5. “You’re growing up so fast. Such an intelligent beautiful boy,” Janet wrote on Instagram in her birthday tribute to Eissa. “Wishing you a life full of magical moments. You’re Mama’s Luv.”