From "Good Times" to her "State of the World" tour, Janet Jackson has captivated audiences for over 40 years. To mark the 25th anniversary of her first film, "Poetic Justice," Wonderwall.com is taking a look back at the icon's time in the spotlight. Keep reading to see Ms. Jackson's life in pics!
Janet Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana, in 1966 to Joe and Katherine Jackson. Among the baby of the family's eight older siblings were members of The Jackson 5, who signed a deal with Motown Records in 1969. When the family moved to Los Angeles, Janet's career as a child star began. She's pictured here with brother Michael Jackson in 1972.
Young Janet Jackson posed with her beloved mother, Katherine, and siblings Michael Jackson, La Toya Jackson and Randy Jackson at big brother Jermaine Jackson's Hollywood wedding (he married Motown Records founder Berry Gordy's daughter Hazel) on Dec. 15, 1973. While Janet had a good relationship with her mom, her father was another story. As an adult, Janet confirmed that Joe had hit her when she was young. "I wish our relationship was different, but I know that he loves me," she told CNN, also revealing that she wasn't allowed to call him "Dad" when she was little. "You call me Joseph. I'm Joseph to you," she remembers him saying.
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By 1976, Janet Jackson was performing with her famous siblings on the variety show "The Jacksons." The CBS series ran for 12 episodes before ending in 1977.
Janet Jackson continued her career in television starring as Penny Gordon Woods, an abused girl who is abandoned by her mother and eventually adopted, in the 1970s CBS sitcom "Good Times." The singer, who was only 11 years old at the time of her casting, acted on the show for two seasons.
Next up, Janet Jackson landed a recurring role as Charlene DuPrey on the NBC sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes." She appeared on the show for three seasons in the early 1980s.
When Janet Jackson was 16, her father, Joe Jackson, arranged her first recording contract. The future icon released her self-titled first album in 1982 and her follow-up album, "Dream Street," in 1984. (She's seen here at the 1983 American Music Awards.) The bubblegum pop albums weren't huge hits, but they did inspire Janet to take full "control" of her career. The following year, she ended her business relationship with her family. "I just wanted to get out of the house, get out from under my father, which was one of the most difficult things that I had to do," Janet has said.
Janet Jackson unexpectedly eloped with DeBarge member James DeBarge in 1984 when she was only 18! The marriage was short-lived and the two annulled their union in 1985.
Fresh off the dumping of her husband and her manager father, Janet Jackson took the reigns of her career and showed the world just how talented she was. The singer released her now-iconic third album, "Control," in 1986. The record spawned five Top 5 singles, "What Have You Done for Me Lately," "Nasty," "When I Think of You," "Control," and "Let's Wait Awhile" plus a Top 15 hit, "The Pleasure Principle." "Control," which received six Billboard Music Awards and three Grammy nominations, including one for album of the year, established Janet as an independent, successful artist who had emerged from the shadow of her famous family.
Janet Jackson followed up her empowering album "Control" with an even bigger hit album, "Rhythm Nation 1814." The 1989 project peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard 200, was certified six-times platinum, sold more than 12 million copies worldwide and was the top-selling album of 1990. With singles "Miss You Much," "Rhythm Nation," "Escapade," "Alright," "Come Back to Me," "Black Cat" and "Love Will Never Do (Without You)," it became the only album in history to produce No. 1 hits in three separate calendar years, as well as the only album to achieve seven Top 5 singles on the Hot 100. Janet's accompanying tour also broke records when it became the most successful debut tour in history.
Janet Jackson went on to win a record 15 Billboard Music Awards plus a Grammy for best long form music video in 1990. But those weren't her only major accolades that year…
Flanked by father Joe Jackson and mom Katherine Jackson, Janet Jackson received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on April 20, 1990. Not a bad start to the '90s, huh?
Janet Jackson began dating dancer and director Rene Elizondo in the late 1980s. The pair hit it off and were secretly married in 1991.
By 27, Janet Jackson had already achieved more than some artists do in their entire careers. In 1993, she was released her fifth studio album, "Janet." The six-times platinum album sold more than 14 million copies worldwide and spawned four Top 5 singles. Lead single "That's the Way Love Goes" won the Grammy for best R&B song and topped the Billboard Hot 100 for eight consecutive weeks! Janet commented at the time that she wrote "all the lyrics and half of the melodies" and shared how she felt it was important to incorporate her sexuality into the album's songs.
Janet Jackson also made her film debut in 1993. The singer starred in "Poetic Justice" alongside superstar rapper Tupac Shakur. The film was a huge success, hitting No. 1 at the box office its opening weekend and winning the Academy Award for best original song for Janet's hit single "Again."
That same year, Janet Jackson showed off her sex symbol status when she appeared topless on the cover of Rolling Stone. The now infamous cover showed her then-husband Rene Elizondo covering her breasts with his hands as Janet stretched out shirtless.
In 1995, Janet Jackson and Michael Jackson finally gave fans what they had been waiting for: a musical collaboration. The siblings joined forces for Michael's hit single "Scream," which they'd co-written in response to intense media scrutiny. The song debuted at No. 5 on the Hot 100 and its music video earned the title of "Most expensive music video ever made" thanks to its $7 million budget. MJ and Janet are pictured here accepting their award for best dance video for "Scream" at the 1995 MTV Video Music Awards.
Janet Jackson began experiencing depression and anxiety in the late '90s. She poured all those emotions into her most personal project yet, "The Velvet Rope." The triple-platinum album, which was released in 1997 (Janet's seen here at the MTV Video Music Awards that year), earned critical acclaim for its exploration of social issues — such as same-sex relationships, homophobia and domestic violence — as well as in-depth lyrics on sensuality. Second single "Together Again" spent a record 46 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and sold six million copies worldwide, making it one of the best selling singles of all time. Janet went on to receive six Billboard Music Award nominations and two Grammy nominations (she won one of each).
In 1998, Janet Jackson launched her "Velvet Rope" world tour to promote her latest album. The concert trek was a critical and commercial success with reviews likening the production to "the ambition and glamour of a Broadway musical." Her HBO special "The Velvet Rope: Live in Madison Square Garden" garnered more than 15 million viewers and won Janet an Emmy.
New millennium, new projects! Janet Jackson tried her hand at acting once again in 2000 when she starred as Professor Denise Gaines opposite Eddie Murphy in "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps." The film, which grossed nearly $170 million worldwide, became her second to open at No. 1 and her single "Doesn't Really Matter," which was on the movie's soundtrack, became her ninth No. 1 single on the Hot 100.
The 2000s also brought the end of Janet Jackson and Rene Elizondo's marriage. The world only found out about the clandestine union in 2000 when Rene, who'd quietly split form Janet in 1999, filed divorce papers and sought a reported $10 to $25 million as a split settlement, which took three years to negotiate.
Janet Jackson bounced back from her divorce with a whole new upbeat sound. The superstar released her seventh studio album, "All for You," in 2001. It hit No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 605,000 copies sold — the highest first-week sales of her career. The album also spawned the amazingly catchy No. 1 single "All for You" — which was the biggest hit of the year, topping the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks — and the No. 3 hit "Someone to Call My Lover." Janet earned three Grammy nominations and several other accolades for the project.
The new millennium also brought a new love into Janet Jackson's life. The singer began dating A-list hip-hop producer Jermaine Dupri in 2001.
One of Janet Jackson's shining moments ended in controversy when she performed during the 2004 Super Bowl Halftime Show. Surprise guest Justin Timberlake ripped off a part of Janet's bustier at the end of the show — exposing her pierced, bare breast to 140 million viewers. The "wardrobe malfunction" went down as one of the most controversial television events in history and caused a sea of backlash for Janet (but not so much for Justin). She was no longer allowed to present at the 2004 Grammy Awards ceremony, although Justin was still permitted to attend, and lost out on the starring role in a Lena Horne biopic.
The Super Bowl incident also affected the success of Janet Jacksons eighth studio album, "Damita Jo." The project was released just one month after the wardrobe malfunction, leaving critics and media focused on the incident and not the album. Public backlash and blacklisting from radio and music channels (Viacom, CBS, MTV, Clear Channel Communications and Infinity Broadcasting were all boycotting the singer) also negatively impacted "Damita Jo." Nevertheless, Janet fans prevailed and the album was certified platinum with three million copies sold worldwide.
Janet Jackson followed up "Damita Jo" with "20 Y.O.," an album heavily produced by then-boyfriend Jermaine Dupri. The 2006 project was certified platinum, with 1.5 million copies sold, but never really found its footing. The disappointment surrounding the album lead to criticism for Jermaine and, ultimately, his removal from his executive position at Virgin Records. Janet, meanwhile, focused her attention on an upcoming movie.
In 2007, Janet Jackson starred as Patricia, a psychotherapist, in Tyler Perry's "Why Did I Get Married." The movie was a definite win for Janet after years of career pitfalls. The movie was well-received by critics and audiences alike, grossing $60 million worldwide.
Janet Jackson attempted to bounce back in the music game with her 2008 album "Discipline." The album opened at No. 1 and the first single, "Feedback," peaked at No. 19 on the Hot 100 and No. 9 on the Pop Songs chart — making it her highest charting single since "Someone to Call My Lover."
Janet Jackson's world came crashing down when her brother and confidante, Michael Jackson, unexpectedly died on June 25, 2009. She appeared at the 2009 BET Awards, pictured here, just three days after Michael's death to thank fans for their support and love. "My entire family wanted to be here tonight, but it was just too painful. So they elected me to speak with all of you," a visibly shaken Janet said. "To you, Michael is an icon. To us, Michael is family. And he will forever live in all of our hearts."
A grieving Janet Jackson comforted niece Paris Jackson on stage at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on July 8, 2009, as family members gathered to publicly memorialize Michael Jackson, who'd died of cardiac arrest due to a drug overdose just a few weeks earlier. They were joined by the king of pop's two sons, Prince Michael Jackson II (then known as Blanket) and Prince Michael Jackson I, as well as MJ's siblings La Toya Jackson and Jackie Jackson in this photo.
Following the death of her brother, Janet Jackson ended her long relationship with Jermaine Dupri in 2009, not long after this photo was taken. "Jermaine is one of my best friends," she said at the time. "I love him to death. We're still connected. We're still good friends. We still talk."
Janet Jackson dealt with her grief by throwing herself into her work. The icon reprised her role as Patricia in the "Why Did I Get Married?" sequel, "Why Did I Get Married Too?" The 2010 movie — Janet's seen here at its London premiere that May — was just as successful as the first, opening at No. 2 and earning over $60 million at the box office.
Next up, Janet Jackson starred as Joanna, the Lady in Red, in the drama "For Colored Girls." The 2010 movie, which grossed $38 million at the box office, was praised for its all-female, African-American lead cast and powerful storylines. Janet's seen here at its New York City premiere that October.
One year after her breakup with Jermaine Durpi, Janet Jackson began seeing London-based Qatari billionaire businessman Wissam Al Mana. The pair quietly dated for two years before becoming engaged and marrying in what they called a "quiet, private, and beautiful ceremony" in 2012.
Janet Jackson achieved another first in 2011 when she wrote a self-help book, "True You: A Guide To Finding And Loving Yourself." The book, which addressed her struggle with weight and confidence, became a New York Times bestseller.
After a few years away from the music world, Janet Jackson came back with a vengeance in 2015. The icon embarked on her seventh world concert trek, the "Unbreakable" tour, and released a new album, "Unbreakable." The album was universally praised and debuted at No. 1, with lead single "No Sleeep" taking over urban radio. Her tour dates were also sold out worldwide, but Janet had to put her comeback on pause when she became pregnant at 49!
Sadly, Janet Jackson's marriage fell apart just a few short months after her son was born. The music legend filed to divorce Wissam al Mana in April 2017 amid allegations of domestic violence and a custody battle over Eissa ensued. Janet's brother, Randy Jackson, claimed that his sister suffered "verbal abuse" and felt like "a prisoner in her own home." "No pregnant woman needs to go through being called a b—- every day," Randy told People magazine (Wissam strongly denied the allegations). Later on, Janet broke down crying on stage while performing "What About," her song about domestic violence and cheating.
In 2017, Janet Jackson was back and better than ever. She revamped and relaunched her world tour, which was postponed due to her pregnancy, and renamed it the "State of the World" tour to reflect its new socially conscious theme. Tickets originally purchased for the "Unbreakable" world tour were honored on new concert dates and fans went wild. The tour is scheduled to end in August 2018.
Janet Jackson was honored with the Billboard Icon Award in May 2018 at the Billboard Music Awards in Las Vegas. "I'm deeply humbled and grateful for this award," she said during her acceptance speech. "I believe for all our challenges, we live at a glorious moment history. It's a moment when, at long last, women have made it clear that we will no longer be controlled, manipulated or abused. I stand with those women and with those men equally outraged who support us in heart and mind."
In July 2018, Janet Jackson headlined the 2018 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, bringing down the house with a medley of her biggest hits. The singer's 28-song setlist included her single "Together Again," which she dedicated to her late father, Joe Jackson, with whom she had a complicated relationship. Joe had died in Las Vegas from pancreatic cancer just a few weeks earlier.