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When Michael Jackson's marriage to Lisa Marie Presley collapsed in 1996, former nurse Debbie Rowe stepped forward and told him: "I will have your babies."
The pair met 15 years earlier at a dermatology clinic where the late star was being treated for vitiligo, and when he opened up about his desperation to be a father, Debbie, now 61, put her hand up to help.
"Michael was divorced, lonely and wanted children," she said.
"I offered him my womb, it was a gift. It was something I did to keep him happy."
According to Debbie, Jackson readily accepted and when his divorce from Lisa was signed off, they married in Sydney – 23 years ago today – while Debbie was already pregnant with first-born Prince, 23.
Debbie Rowe and Micheal Jackson pose for a wedding photo on November 14, 1996
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Daughter Paris followed in 1998 but the pregnancy was littered with problems and the birth left Debbie unable to have any more children.
But Jackson was so desperate to take his daughter home that he admitted carrying her out while she was still covered in blood.
"I snatched her and just went home with all the placenta and everything all over her," he said.
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"I’m not kidding. Got her in a towel and ran. They said it was fine… And I got her home and washed it all off.”
But in the interview after his death, Debbie claimed she never had sex with Jackson and that the children were the result of artificial insemination by an anonymous sperm donor.
"I went to the 'office', which is what we called the medical clinic," she told the News of the World.
Michael Jackson with first-born son Prince
(Image: Splash News)
“They impregnated me. It's just like I impregnate my mares for breeding. It was very technical.
"Just like I stick the sperm up my horse, this is what they did to me. I was his thoroughbred."
Prince is rumoured to have been fathered by Debbie's doctor boss, the late Arnold Klein – claims he refused to confirm or deny.
“I still can’t answer [the paternity question] absolutely one way or another,” Klein told Larry King in 2009. “I once donated to the sperm bank. To the best of my knowledge I am not the father.”
Neither Prince or Paris have chosen to have DNA tests
For Prince, he has made it clear that it doesn't matter either way – Jackson was his dad 'through and through'
"Every time someone asks me that, I ask, ‘What’s the point? What difference does it make?’" he once said.
"Specifically to someone who’s not involved in my life. How does that affect your life? It doesn’t change mine.”
Meanwhile, actor Mark Lester, who played the title role in the 1968 movie Oliver! – claimed he could be Paris' father, alleging that Jackson asked him to donate sperm.
Michael Jackson and Mark Lester
He told the Daily Mail: "I was just helping out a friend. I think he had a problem with actually doing the physical act of sex and a very low sperm count as well."
However, he insisted he had no interest in taking a DNA test, explaining: "I can’t be bothered. I’ve got four kids of my own and I’m about to take on another two [children of his new wife] – that’s my family."
And as far as Paris is concerned, Jackson is 100 percent her biological dad.
Paris is now close to mum Debbie, who recently finished treatment for breast cancer
(Image: Internet Unknown)
“He is my father. He will always be my father. He never wasn’t, and he never will not be," she told Rolling Stone.
"People that knew him really well say they see him in me, that it’s almost scary.
“I consider myself black. [Dad] would look me in the eyes and he’d point his finger at me and he’d be like, ‘You’re black. Be proud of your roots.’ And I’d be like, ‘OK, he’s my dad, why would he lie to me?’ So I just believe what he told me. Bacause, to my knowledge, he’s never lied to me."
Debbie and Jackson divorced in October 1999 and she gave him custody of the children.
Appearing on Michael Jackson: The Footage You Were Never Meant To See in 2003, she explained: "I did it for him to become a father, not for me to become a mother.
"You earn the title parent. I have done absolutely nothing to earn that title. That is because Michael did all the parenting.
"I didn't do it to be a mother. I didn't change diapers. I didn't get up in the middle of the night, even when I was there, Michael did it all."