Deborah and Michael Jackson at their wedding in 1996.
|Born||Deborah Jeanne Rowe
December 6, 1958
Spokane, Washington, U.S.
|Residence||Palmdale, California, U.S.|
|Education||Hollywood High School|
|Occupation||Dermatology nurse, horse breeder|
|Known for||Marriage to Michael Jackson|
(m. 1982; div. 1988)
(m. 1996; div. 1999)
Rowe was born in Spokane, Washington, the daughter of Barbara Chilcutt and Gordon Rowe. Her father divorced her mother a few weeks before her second birthday. Rowe had a lonely childhood. She was raised by her mother, a few aunts, and maternal grandmother. She has one half-sister named Loretta Scarlett Rowe who was born in 1961.
Rowe first married Richard Edelman in 1982. The couple divorced six years later in 1988.
Relationship with Michael Jackson
Rowe met Michael Jackson while working as a nurse in Dr. Arnold Klein's dermatology office, where Jackson was being treated for vitiligo. She recalled that after Jackson's divorce from Lisa Marie Presley in 1996, he was upset at the possibility that he might never become a father. Rowe, a longtime Jackson fan, proposed to bear his children. In an interview with Playboy, Lisa Marie stated that she knew at the time that she and Jackson were married that Rowe wanted to have his children and that Rowe had "a crush on him".
Children and marriage
Three months after Rowe and Jackson's marriage she gave birth to a son, Michael Joseph Jackson Jr. (born February 13, 1997), who was subsequently known as Prince. The next year she gave birth to a daughter, Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson. (born April 3, 1998). Jackson took full responsibility for raising the children.
Rowe, who described herself as a private person and almost never gave interviews, was overwhelmed by the publicity that came with being married to Jackson. The couple divorced on October 8, 1999, with Rowe giving full custody rights of the children to Jackson. Rowe received an $8-million settlement, and a house in Beverly Hills, California. Court documents indicated she had signed a prenuptial agreement and therefore could not obtain an equal division of community property under California law.
In 2001, Rowe went to a private judge to have her parental rights for the two children terminated. In 2004, after Jackson was charged with 10 counts of child abuse, she went to court to have the decision reversed. According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency Rowe, who is Jewish, sought the reversal in part because she feared the nanny and some of Jackson's siblings were exposing the children to teachings of the Nation of Islam. Court documents from 2005 noted that "Because she is Jewish, Deborah feared the children might be mistreated if Michael continued the association." On the stand, in the 2005 People v. Jackson case, she explained that she had been allowed limited visits to her children, for eight hours every 45 days.
In 2005, Rowe sold her Beverly Hills house for $1.3 million, and bought a ranch in Palmdale. In 2006, she sued Jackson for one immediate payment of $195,000 and one payment of $50,000 to pursue a child custody case. Jackson was ordered to pay her $60,000 in legal fees.
After Jackson's death
Following Jackson's death on June 25, 2009, Rowe made statements through her attorney to deny a series of gossip reports, including reports that she was not the children's biological mother and that she was attempting to bargain her parental rights for money. Several gossip outlets reported that Debbie Rowe was the surrogate mother for the children and not their biological mother.
In July, 2009, she filed a lawsuit for defamation and invasion of privacy against a source who handed over alleged private e-mails to the television entertainment news program Extra, and on March 3, 2010, she was successful in the defamation lawsuit. She was awarded $27,000 in damages, although she had originally sought $500,000.
In August 2009, Rowe reached a settlement with Katherine Jackson, the children's guardian, under which she has rights to supervised visitations. Mrs. Jackson's attorney stated that the negotiations were "never about money" and the settlement was in the best interests of the children.
In April 2014, Rowe announced on Entertainment Tonight that she was engaged to music producer and former Neverland Ranch videographer Marc Schaffel, who worked with Jackson on his 9/11 charity single "What More Can I Give". Schaffel was the sole Jackson employee who was permitted access to visit Rowe following their divorce in 1999 and he assisted Rowe with her health issues.
On July 4, 2016, Rowe was diagnosed with breast cancer.
In popular culture
Rowe was parodied in actress/comedian Tracey Ullman's series Tracey Ullman's State of the Union.
- "Birth certificates" (PDF). County of Los Angeles. Retrieved 20 September 2009.
- Debbie Rowe: I won't see Jackson's children again, WaToday.com.au, 2009-06-29
- "Debbie Rowe Biography". Biography.Com. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
- Entertainment: Jackson to divorce again, BBC, 1999-10-08
- Schneider, Karen S. (1996-12-02). "What Friends Are for". People. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
- The Michael Jackson Interview: The Footage You Were Never Meant to See
- "Complete Lisa Marie Presley Playboy Interview". Playboy. 30 Jul 2003. Retrieved 20 October 2014.
- People – Manchild Has Boy Child, Time, February 24, 1997
- "Last Will Of Michael Joseph Jackson". The Smoking Gun. Retrieved 2009-09-20.
- Debbie Rowe reaches out to Jackson family, MSNBC, 2009-06-30
- Living with Michael Jackson
- Case Reopens Debate on Private Judges; Michael Jackson's clash with ex-wife heads for county court as officials seek to reform system., Los Angeles Times (archive), September 6, 2006
- Bruce Simon, Michael Jackson Divorce Details Revealed, Yahoo Music news, October 8, 1999.
- Michael Jackson sued by ex-wife, BBC News, July 13, 2006
- Jackson kids' Jewish mother could regain custody, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, June 28, 2009.
- Rowe seeks parental rights over Nation of Islam, Jewish Telegraphic Agency, July 3, 2009.
- Jacko's Ex Rowe: Interview Wasn't Scripted, FoxNews, April 27, 2005
- Daly: Debbie Rowe continues to waffle on custody decision for Michael Jackson's kids, New York Daily News, July 2, 2009
- Jackson child custody fight ends, BBC News, September 30, 2006
- Lawyer: Debbie Rowe Is Biological Mom, US Weekly, 2009-06-30
- Debbie Rowe, Dermatologist Respond To Reports Over Michael Jackson's Children, but NBC New York, 2009-06-30
- Debbie Rowe Sics Her Lawyers on the New York Post over Report She Sold Her Kids. Gawker.com (2009-07-14). Retrieved on 2012-04-09.
- Michael Jackson and Debbie Rowe 'are not biological parents of any of his children', Daily Mail, July 1, 2009
- Goldman, Russell; Murphy, Eileen; Pearle, Lauren (2009-07-17). "Debbie Rowe Files Suit Over Custody Rumors". ABC News. Retrieved 2014-12-01.
- "Debbie Rowe wins judgment in defamation case". USA Today. Associated Press. 2010-03-03. Retrieved 2014-12-01.
- Showbiz :: Jackson's lawyer praises Rowe in custody case. Daily Express, (2009-08-04). Retrieved on 2012-04-09.
- "Debbie Rowe Engaged to Michael Jackson's Executive Producer Marc Schaffel—Check Out Her Ring!". E! Online. 28 March 2014.
- "Michael Jackson's daughter Paris 'called Debbie Rowe'". dailymail.co.uk.
- Fuchs, Cynthia (7 February 2005). "Man in Mirror: The Michael Jackson Story". popmatters.com. Retrieved 4 January 2010.