Originally posted on 12/22/2003 on the now-defunct Newshax.com
MIAMI, FL - The family of Keiko released a statement on Monday acknowledging that Rosie O'Donnell is the killer whale's illegitimate daughter. O'Donnell went public with her claim that the late star of the movie Free Willy was her father in a report published by The Washington Post on Saturday. Keiko's relatives released a statement on Monday that confirmed the claim.
"As Keiko has passed away and cannot speak for himself and couldn't speak English anyway, Keiko's family acknowledges Miss O'Donnell's claim to Keiko's heritage," the statement said. "We hope this acknowledgment will bring closure for Miss O'Donnell and explain her extraordinary size."
The killer whale known as Keiko was famous for his work in the movie Free Willy. He was originally captured and sold to a marine park in 1973. Starting in 1993, Keiko starred in three movies of the Free Willy franchise. He died Friday afternoon from a sudden onset of pneumonia.
At the time she was conceived, Keiko was unmarried and living in the Pacific Ocean when O'Donnell's mother fell overboard during a cruise. Keiko and the woman had a brief love affair until O'Donnell's mother ran out of oxygen and returned to the surface. O'Donnell told the Post that Keiko privately acknowledged her as his daughter and provided her with ten tons of fish every year. O'Donnell said she had not disclosed her paternity because of their mutual "deep respect" and her fears that it would harm Keiko's movie career.