The 6 Biggest Celebrity Paternity Scandals


Padma Lakshmi (Photo: Getty Images)

In her new book, Love, Loss and What We Ate, excerpted in People, Padma Lakshmi writes that her one of her first thoughts upon learning she was pregnant in 2009 was “not so much ‘How?’ but the far more uncomfortable ‘Who?’” Lakshmi suffers from endometriosis, which meant that she’d long believed it would be nearly impossible to conceive a child herself. However, at the time she became pregnant, she had been dating two men, Teddy Forstmann and Adam Dell, and was not immediately sure who was the father of her child.

A paternity test eventually revealed Dell to be the biological father of her daughter, Krishna.

In her book, Lakshmi praises Forstmann, who died of brain cancer in 2011, for supporting her throughout her pregnancy. “He wasn’t going to leave my side,” she tells People. “Maybe he didn’t know if he could stay in a romantic relationship with me or not. I think neither of us knew what was going to happen, but he was resolute in making sure I wasn’t alone. He held my hand and he held it very publicly.”

Lakshmi is hardly the first celebrity to go through a very public paternity scandal. Here are the top six, in no particular order:

Anna Nicole Smith


Anna Nicole Smith (Photo: Getty Images)

This one was tragic in every sense of the word. In September 2006, Anna Nicole Smith gave birth to a daughter in the Bahamas. A little more than a month later, Smith revised the baby’s birth certificate to list her partner, Howard K. Stern, as the father, and the baby’s name as Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern. Then, in February 2007, Smith passed away. She left behind questions over the paternity of her infant daughter, who became the sole heir to her mother’s fortune. Among others, Larry Birkhead, Smith’s former boyfriend, claimed to be Dannielynn’s real father. It was eventually determined through DNA testing that Birkhead was indeed the dad; he changed the baby’s name to Dannielynn Hope Marshall Birkhead and was given sole custody.

Ronan Farrow


Mia and Ronan Farrow (Photo: Getty Images)

In 2013, Mia Farrow dropped a bombshell during an interview with Vanity Fair saying that Frank Sinatra, and not Woody Allen, was “possibly” the father of her son Ronan Farrow. Farrow was previously believed to be the only biological child of Mia Farrow and Woody Allen, though Ronan had become estranged from Allen following his parents’s divorce (and following his adopted sister Dylan Farrow’s accusation that Allen had sexually abused her when she was 7). Ronan himself has not seriously addressed his mother’s claim, though he did laugh it off in a tweet immediately following the interview’s publication.

Mathew Knowles


Mathew Knowles (Photo: Getty Images)

For years, Mathew Knowles was known as the architect of Beyoncé’s early career. But scandal knocked him off his throne after it was revealed that Knowles fathered a child while he was still married to Tina Knowles; the couple divorced in 2011. Around that time, Beyoncé also fired her father as her manager. Four years later, another woman filed a paternity suit against Mathew; DNA testing revealed that he was, in fact, four times a father.

Janice Dickinson


Sylvester Stallone and Janice Dickinson (Photo: Getty Images)

In the early ‘90s, Janice Dickinson and Sylvester Stallone embarked on what would become a brief and very tumultuous affair. As Dickinson wrote in her book No Lifeguard on Duty, she slept with Stallone while she was dating Michael Birnbaum, and became pregnant. Dickinson wrote that “in all honesty, deep down, [she] felt the child was Sly’s.” The two were together until six weeks after Dickinson gave birth, when DNA results revealed that Stallone was not the father of Dickinson’s child. The two split up and Stallone got back together with Jennifer Flavin, whom he married in 1997.

Michael Jackson


Michael Jackson (Photo: Getty Images)

It was readily apparent to anyone with eyes that Michael Jackson was not the biological father of all three of his children, particularly the very light-skinned Prince and Paris Jackson. The Jackson family essentially confirmed that belief in 2013 when they asked the judge in their wrongful-death suit to exclude any evidence relating to the paternity of Jackson’s children from the case. Debbie Rowe, Jackson’s ex-wife, is the biological mother of Prince and Paris, and an unnamed woman gave birth to Blanket, who Jackson confirmed was conceived via artificial insemination. However, there are no public DNA results to officially prove or disprove this theory, so it’s likely to forever remain a mystery.

Eddie Murphy and Melanie Brown


Eddie Murphy and Melanie Brown (Photo: Getty Images)

Eddie Murphy broke up with former Spice Girl Melanie Brown while she was pregnant, and publicly questioned the paternity of the child, saying, in 2006, “I don’t know whose child that is until it comes out and has a blood test. You shouldn’t jump to conclusions, sir.” Brown gave birth to Angel and, in 2007, DNA testing revealed that he was in fact the father. Murphy publicly acknowledged his paternity and agreed to pay Brown child support and cover the expenses of her pregnancy.