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Janet Jackson

Spotlight

Janet Jackson, the youngest of nine, was determined not to let her siblings have all the fun in the spotlight. At 7, she debuted in the family Vegas spectacular but unlike other Jacksons her first big splash on the small screen instead of the stage with stints on Good Times (1977), Diff’rent Strokes (1982-84) and Fame (1984). Urged by manager/father Joe, she returned to music, signing her first record deal in 1981. It wasn’t until 1985 that she stepped out from behind the shadow of her superstar brother Michael thanks to the release of her Grammy-nominated third album Control, which contained five Top 5 hits including “When I Think Of You.” Her streak continued with 1988’s Rhythm Nation 1814, which spawned four No. 1 singles. The early ‘90s brought out her sexier side (1993’s Janet sold nearly seven million copies and there was that handsy Rolling Stone cover.), an acting return in Poetic Justice and the “Scream” collaboration with MJ. The pierced pop star has had a tumultuous love life. Under pressure from her parents, she annulled her 1984 marriage to R&B singer James DeBarge. Her 1991 marriage to songwriting partner Rene Elizondo Jr. wasn’t made public until he filed for divorce in 2000. She dated producer Jermaine Dupri from 2002-09, a relationship strong enough to suffer through her 2004 Super Bowl wardrobe malfunction, the resulting public backlash to Nipplegate and the pathetic sales of Damita Jo. She wormed her way back into fans’ good graces by revealing a 60-pounds-lighter body in 2006 (and then again in 2011 as a NutriSystem spokewoman), starring in three Tyler Perry’s films and returning to her dance roots with 2008’s Discipline. She has been more of a homebody since Michael’s tragic death in 2009 and is focused on making her 2012 commitment to Qatari businessman Wissam Al Mana last.

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