It’s not easy being a single mother. And it’s arguably harder still to be a famous single mother. Of course, it’s not just Hollywood that shares the mentality that pregnant women and babies are fair game for public scrutiny.
It’s no wonder that some celebrities want to keep the public out of their family affairs. In 2018, the nuclear family is a myth. A baby doesn’t need one parent of each gender to have a happy, healthy upbringing. But that doesn’t stop inquiring minds from prying. When a romantically unattached star announces they are pregnant, the people must know who else was involved. And sometimes, these mothers-to-be quite rightly don’t feel like sharing.
The women (and 2 men) on this list made a choice to keep the particulars of their conception private. Some of them were successful in their attempts. Others were legally forced to spill the beans or it came out after a romantic reconciliation. In some cases, paternity is all but public record. A few women just got tired of fending off the question. Whatever the case, even celebrities have a right to raise their children however they see fit.
Here are 10 Celebrities Who Kept Their Baby Daddies Secret (And 6 Who Tried But Failed).
16 January Jones
January Jones would know a thing or two about being a single mother, having played a neglected 1960s housewife on Mad Men. So, when she got pregnant in 2011, she was actually excited about the prospect of going it alone. “It was something I went into knowingly, I was prepared mentally – and I was excited about it," she told The Edit.
35-year-old Jones didn’t name Xander’s father on his birth certificate and when asked about paternity, she told The New York Times, “That’s my son’s business. It’s not the public’s business.” Adding, “I don’t have room for anything else, so I don’t know how I would have done it with a partner.” She also quipped, “It’s [a woman’s] right to have secrets. Otherwise, what would we write in our memoirs?”
15 Lauryn Hill
The R&B singer had 5 children with Rohan Marley, but their relationship was on the rocks in 2011, when Lauryn Hill became pregnant with her 6th child. Amid rumors of Rohan’s infidelity, Hill went out of her way to tell people Bob Marley’s son was decidedly not the father of her soon-to-be baby boy, Micah.
The former Fugee released an official statement: “Contrary to the numerous reports, Mr. Marley did not abandon me while pregnant with his child. We have had long periods of separation over the years but our five children together remain a joy to both of us...” As confirmation on his part, Rohan tweeted, “I'm forwarding all well wishes to Ms. Hill on the birth of her new son. I'm sure she'll appreciate the love being sent to her.”
Neither party gave any hints as to the identity of Micah’s father.
14 Megan Fox
In April 2016, Megan Fox surprised press on the red carpet when she revealed a baby bump. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles star had filed for divorce from her husband Brian Austin Green the previous August. Fox wouldn’t answer any questions about who put a bun in her oven. Fox responded to inquiries with a cheeky Instagram collage featuring herself and 3 former co-stars, Jake Johnson, Shia LaBeouf, and Will Arnett and the caption “#notthefather”.
Months later, Fox called off the divorce and revealed that she and Green were reuniting for the sake of their children, including sons Noah, 3, and Bodhi, 2, Their third son, Journey River, was born in August 2016.
Said Green, “None of [the children] are ever planned. You just kind of go with it.”
13 Lena Headey
As Cersei Lannister, Lena Headey has a lot of practice keeping the paternity of her children a secret. The Game of Thrones actress was deeply traumatized by her divorce from her first husband, musician Peter Loughran. Headey and Loughran had a brutal custody battle over their son, Wiley.
So, when the romantically unattached Headey gave birth to daughter Teddy in 2015, she dodged all questions pertaining to the identity of the father. Naturally, public speculation was rampant, with many guessing it was her co-star Pedro Pascal. Even after Headey began publicly dating actor Dan Cadan, she didn’t drop any hints about his involvement in bringing Teddy into the world.
Then, in a 2017 New York Times profile, Headey casually revealed that Teddy’s father was none other than fiancé Dan Cadan.
12 Minnie Driver
Minnie Driver confirmed her pregnancy on a 2008 TV interview. But the Speechless actress neglected to name the father of her unborn child. Rampant speculation included Eddie Izzard, who was at the time her co-star on The Riches.
Driver stayed mum on the subject until a 2012 interview in The Observer, when she finally felt comfortable naming names. Henry’s father was Timothy J. Lea, one of the writers for The Riches. Said Driver, "I don't need to protect him anymore. He can fend for himself. He's a grown-up. We weren't together and he wasn't directly in the business so I chose to protect him and not have a rain of publicity." When asked if Lea had become involved in Henry’s life, she responded, “Sort of. He’s figuring it out… I mean, he hasn’t been that involved; his choice. But he is now.”
11 Mindy Kaling
Life imitated art when, in season 6 of The Mindy Project, the romantically unattached creator and star Mindy Kaling was surprised to learned she was pregnant with her first child. Kaling hid her growing bump under clothes. But that wasn’t her only secret. Kaling also hasn’t revealed, even to close friends, who put that bun in her oven. An internet fan contingent has high hopes that it’s Mindy’s former flame and writing partner, B.J. Novak, but the theory remains unfounded.
In December 2017, Kaling gave birth to daughter Katherine, but left the paternal side of her birth certificate blank. Kaling discussed single motherhood on Sunday Today. “It’s so unknown to me. I have a lot of control over a lot of aspects of my life, and this is one where I’m like, ‘OK, it’s out of my hands,’ which is kind of a fun feeling.”
10 Geri Halliwell
In 2006, the former Spice Girl was excited about the prospect of raising her baby daughter, Bluebell Madonna, all on her own. She left the father’s name off the birth certificate and kept his identity out of the press. But Halliwell’s friends, including singer Robbie Williams, reportedly talked her into ringing up her sperm donor and giving him a chance to be a dad.
After much speculation and math, the public worked out that Bluebell’s father was director/screenwriter Sacha Gervasi, with whom Halliwell had a 6-week fling the previous year. Today, The Anvil! The Story of Anvil director is married to socialite, Jessica de Rothschild and doesn’t have much of a relationship with Bluebell. But according to Halliwell, the precious youngster has a “really nice bond” with her step-father, Formula One racer Christian Horner. Bluebell calls him “daddy” and was a bridesmaid in Halliwell and Horner’s 2015 wedding.
9 Padma Lakshmi
After a lifetime of complications from endometriosis, Top Chef Padma Lakshmi was convinced that she couldn’t conceive. So, in 2010, she was shocked to learn she was pregnant with her daughter, Krishna.
Lakshmi was not in a committed relationship at the time and wasn’t even sure who the father was herself. She had narrowed it down to two men: IMG CEO Teddy Forstmann and venture capitalist Adam Dell. Forstmann offered to raise Krishna as his own, but died in 2011, leaving her a trust fund.
Lakshmi was content to let sleeping dogs lie, but Dell demanded a paternity test that ultimately proved he was Krishna’s father. A bitter custody battle ensued in which Dell won visitation and the right to retroactively put his name on Krishna’s birth certificate.
8 Mónica Cruz
Spanish actress Monica Cruz (sister of Penelope) didn’t enter into single motherhood lightly. “[O]nce I had thought about it – and investigated – I knew it had to happen. Being a mother was too important to me to risk running out of time.”
Though Penelope’s sister is aware of public criticism and the incessant speculation about Antonella’s paternity, she doesn’t give outside opinions a second thought. “What matters is that my daughter is surrounded by love. I believe in the right to go down the path that feels best for you. I needed to find my daughter in this way.”
Cruz is in no rush to find a romantic partner, and believes raising her daughter alone keeps her from wasting her time with the wrong person. “Now I know I have to choose someone who would be right for me and for her. It would have to be a very special man.”
7 Bristol Palin
The daughter of the former Republican governor made headlines with her first pregnancy as an unwed 17-year-old. Bristol Palin never did marry Levi Johnston, but she eventually married and had 2 more children (not necessarily in that order).
Palin and Marine veteran Dakota Meyer were on a break from dating when she learned she was pregnant. The outspoken abstinence advocate admitted to feeling shame on her blog. “I know this has been and will be, a huge disappointment to my family, to my close friends, and to many of you.”
Unsure of the future of their relationship, Palin didn’t name Meyer as the father right away. But after daughter Sailor Grace’s December 2015 birth, Palin and Meyer reconnected. Meyer outed himself as the father on social media with a photo and the caption: “Best Christmas present ever..."
6 Bebe Buell
Born Liv Rundgren, The Leftovers star had always thought her biological father was her mother’s live-in boyfriend, musician Todd Rundgren. But when, at age 9, Liv met Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler, the clever youngster noticed more than a passing resemblance between herself and Tyler’s daughter, Mia.
Liv confirmed her suspicions 2 years later, when she confronted her mother, model Bebe Buell. Buell had good reason for the ruse, telling Vulture, “[Steven] was crazy. And I didn’t want her to be psychologically affected.” The public wouldn’t learn of the connection until 1991, when Liv changed her surname to Tyler.
Though Rundgren suspected he wasn’t Liv’s father, he stepped into the role anyway, and will always hold a special place in Liv’s heart. “I’m so grateful to him… You know, when he holds me it feels like Daddy.”
5 Camryn Manheim
The Practice actress Camryn Manheim set a goal for motherhood by the age of 40. Lo and behold, 2 days before her 40th birthday, she gave birth to her son, Milo. She told press she had a sperm donor and would raise the boy alone. Her longtime friend, model Jeffrey Brezovar, was present at the birth, and gave a statement on Manheim’s behalf. “Camryn is the happiest I’ve ever seen her, and I’ve seen her at many happy moments.” But when asked if he played a part in the pregnancy, he answered, “I have an agreement not to speak.”
There is strong public speculation that Brezovar is Milo’s father, particularly after a November 2005 interview in Out Magazine, when Cameron reportedly lawyered up to have photos and mentions of Milo removed from the story. To this day, the Wake Up, I’m Fat! author hasn’t identified Milo’s father.
4 Karen Mulder
The Dutch supermodel was at the height of her fame in the 1990s, until a bout with depression led to a suicide attempt and she abandoned a public life. In 2006, she reemerged, giving birth to her daughter, Anna.
12 years later, Mulder has yet to reveal the identity of Anna’s father. Some have speculated that she doesn’t know herself or that the pregnancy was the result of non-consensual relations. In 2001, Mulder appeared on a French talk show and accused numerous high-profile men of assaulting her.
For the most part, Mulder has led a quiet life with Anna, managing to keep her daughter’s photo out of the press and maintaining a remarkable amount of privacy for a former supermodel.
3 Cristiano Ronaldo
When Portuguese footballer Cristiano Ronaldo learned that a one-night stand with an American waitress had resulted in a pregnancy, he knew he wanted that baby. Fortunately, the anonymous woman was perfectly happy to sign over their son in exchange for $15 million and strict confidentiality on both sides.
On July 3rd, 2010, the former Manchester United player tweeted, “It is with great joy and emotion that I inform I have recently become a father to a baby boy. As agreed with the baby's mother, who prefers to have her identity kept confidential, my son will be under my exclusive guardianship.”
Little is known about the encounter but the 25-year-old former Manchester United forward admits he met her in 2009 at a Los Angeles restaurant.
2 Michael Jackson
There’s no question that 2 of Michael Jackson’s 3 children look nothing like him. But do Paris and Prince Michael favor their mother Debbie Rowe, or someone else entirely? Over the years, Rowe has strangely distanced herself from her children. In their 1999 divorce, Rowe signed over full custody rights in exchange for $8 million and a Beverly Hills home. In 2001, she had her parental rights terminated via a private judge.
Jackson had a third child (aka Blanket) in 2002 via anonymous surrogate. After his 2009 death, his mother Katherine Jackson was granted legal guardianship of all 3 children. Rowe later negotiated with Katherine for supervised visitations with Paris and Prince.
What’s more, former child star Mark Lester (Oliver!) claims he was one of several celebrity sperm donors (including Macaulay Culkin, Marlon Brando, and Jack Nicholson).
1 Mia Farrow
It’s always been pretty clear that Mia’s ex-husband didn’t have much genetic influence on her biological son, Ronan. Mia was still married to director Woody Allen when Ronan was born in 1987. Naturally, everyone assumed Ronan’s paternity was cut-and-dry. But in a 2013 Vanity Fair interview, The Rosemary's Baby actress revealed that she’d once cheated on Allen… with Frank Sinatra.
A lightbulb went off in the heads of the general public and it spawned a million side-by-side photo comparisons. But the most Mia would say about the chance Ronan was Sinatra’s was “possibly.” Meanwhile, Ronan cheekily responded to a barrage of messages with the tweet, “We’re all *possibly* Frank Sinatra’s son.”
The plot thickened when the 2015 biography, Sinatra: The Chairman, alleged that the Rat Pack singer was suffering from impotence around the time of Ronan’s conception.
Do you know of any other stars who have yet to reveal their baby daddies? Let us know in the comments!