There were reports that bottles of Xanax were found in Whitney Houston’s hotel room. Casey Schwartz looks at what the drug actually does, and how mixing it with alcohol can be fatal.
In the wake of Saturday’s news that Whitney Houston had been found dead in the bathtub of the Beverly Hilton hotel, the exact cause of her death remains a matter of speculation. Houston was reportedly found submerged under water, but whether she drowned because she was unconscious or she was already dead before she slipped under water, there still remains the question of which chemicals were involved in the process.
Houston had battled publically with pills, alcohol, and cocaine in the past. There were prescription medications in her hotel room—reportedly including Xanax—and Houston was seen around Los Angeles visibly disheveled and erratic, sources say.
Houston’s death would appear to be yet another cautionary tale in an escalating story line.
In recent years, as the use of prescription medication has proliferated in the United States, so too have the abuse of and overdose from many of these substances.
Before her marriage to Bobby Brown, Houston was dogged by questions about her relationship with her female assistant and best friend, Robyn Crawford. By Tricia Romano
Remember when Whitney Houston was supposedly a lesbian?
Johannes Eisele / AP Photo
Long before she married Bobby Brown and became a crack addict, long before “doodie bubbles” on Being Bobby Brown, long before her supposedly clean comeback, Whitney Houston was rumored to be a lesbian. Like Gayle and Oprah, Whitney had an ultra-close best friend, Robyn Crawford, who was also her personal assistant.
She met Crawford when she was 16 in East Orange, N.J., and soon they became inseparable; Crawford later dropped out of Monmouth College to work for her friend. Houston told Time magazine in 1987, when she was 23, that Crawford was the “sister I never had.” While both Houston and Crawford denied being gay, Houston’s explanation was still very forward-thinking for the time: “My mother taught me that when you stand in the truth and someone tells a lie about you, don’t fight it. I’m not with any man. I’m not in love. People see Robyn with me, and they draw their own conclusions. Anyway, whose business is it if you’re gay or like dogs? What others do shouldn’t matter. Let people talk. It doesn’t bother me because I know I’m not gay. I don’t care.”
Coroner running 'routine' tests.
The day after Whitney Houston was at the center of an outpouring of grief and love at the Grammys, the Los Angeles coroner’s office announced that a cause of death for the singer is weeks away, and that he has performed "routine" toxicology tests. Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter also confirmed that Houston was found in the bathtub at her hotel room. Gossip site TMZ claims that while many pill bottles were found in her room, few actual pills were discovered. Meanwhile, sales of Houston’s music soared online over the weekend, with 42 of her songs in the top 200 on iTunes. On Amazon, her albums claimed half of the top 20 spots.
To be with daughter.
Bobby Brown, Whitney Houston’s ex-husband, canceled his Sunday show in Nashville and flew to Los Angeles to be with his daughter Bobbi Kristina, who was admitted to the hospital shortly after her mother's death. Asked why Brown canceled his show and flew to L.A., Brown's representative said, “His love for his daughter and his daughter being in the hospital. He wants to go be with his daughter.” Bobbi Kristina was hospitalized Saturday night and again Sunday morning, but has since been released. Brown and Houston divorced in 2007, amid reports of domestic abuse.
Will be weeks before autopsy concludes.
Officials investigating the death of Whitney Houston say she may have drowned in her bathtub. The singer was found unresponsive in her tub at a Beverly Hills hotel. Radar Online and the New York Post quote anonymous sources saying Houston had prescription drugs in her room and may have fallen asleep in the bath after taking them. The Los Angeles County coroner's office said it performed the autopsy Sunday, but won't release any conclusions until toxicology results are finished, in six to eight weeks. Houston struggled with drug and alcohol addiction, and last year her spokeswoman had said she was headed back to rehab. Police say there is no indication of foul play.
Houston tried everything to save her toxic marriage. But after Bobby Brown left, daughter Bobbi Kristina became ‘her friend, confidante, and her protector,’ friends tell Allison Samuels.
As close friends and family begin to absorb the news of the death of Whitney Houston, many are taking time to reflect on the last few years of a career and life they had a chance to share with the superstar—and its abrupt end.
While Houston had recently stepped away from the spotlight she dominated for so many years, her longtime hairstylist and good friend Ellin LaVar says the star remained firmly focused on two important goals in her life: keeping her marriage to Bobby Brown together (before the divorce) and bonding more with her daughter, Bobbi Kristina, who is now 19.
Close friends and family say she had been so blindly committed to her marriage to the New Edition singer that she left the familiar, comfortable surroundings of her native New Jersey to move to Atlanta, where most of Brown’s extended family lived. The two divorced in 2007.
The diva’s final performance is in the remake of the cult film, which is set for an August release. Howard Rosenman, who conceived and produced the original film, talks about how the Motown-inspired flick came to the screen in 1976—and Whitney’s ‘wonderful’ performance in the new version.
I was in love with the Motown sound in the ’60s. Berry Gordy was my idol, and Ashford and Simpson were my favorite songwriters. They wrote two of the greatest songs in the R & B lexicon: “You’re All I Need To Get By,” sung by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell, and “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” popularized by the ineffable Diana Ross. I am stuck in the R & B world of the late 1960s. Stevie Wonder, Aretha, Sam and Dave, Otis Redding, Holland-Dozier-Holland, Eddie Kendricks, the Temptations, David and Jimmy Ruffin, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5, Mary Wells, Martha and the Vandellas, and Gladys Knight and the Pips ... but most especially Diana Ross and the Supremes. The music Gordy created at Hitsville is the greatest cultural export the U.S. has ever produced ... from my point of view.
One hot July morning in 1971, at Fire Island Pines, N.Y., I was introduced to Joel Schumacher. The soundtrack in the background was ’70s Supremes—“Up the Ladder to the Roof,” “Stoned Love,” and “Nathan Jones” playing over and over all afternoon. It turned out Joel and I both wanted to go to Hollywood to make movies. We immediately hit it off because we both were in love with R & B, soul, and the movies.
I said to Joel: “We have to go out to Hollywood and make a movie about these girls who are singing in the background.”
Jennifer Hudson performs 'I Will Always Love You.'
In a stirring tribute to Whitney Houston, Jennifer Hudson performed "I Will Always Love You." The song came at the end of an in memorian segment. At the Grammy Awards, Host LL Cool J started the ceremony with a prayer for Houston. “There is no way around this, there’s been a death in the family.” In a somber moment in the pre-awards ceremony, Amy Winehouse’s parents took to the stage to accept an award on her behalf. Her father, Mitch Winehouse, said, “Long live Whitney Houston, long live Etta James, long live Amy Winehouse. There’s a beautiful girl-group up in heaven.”
Toxicology results will take weeks.
We’ll have to wait some time before finding out what the autopsy on singer Whitney Houston revealed. E! reports that the Beverly Hills Police Department has place a security hold on the results, though they do say that there were no signs of criminal intent. The coroner's office confirmed this in a press conference. Toxicology tests, however, will take weeks to complete. Houston was found in the bathtub of her room in the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Drowning is reportedly one the scenarios being investigated.
Bobby Brown skips concert to be with her.
Bobbi Kristina Brown, the 18-year-old daughter of Bobby Brown and the late Whitney Houston, was reportedly released from an L.A. hospital after being rushed there the day after her mother was found dead at the Beverly Hilton hotel. TMZ reports that Bobbi Kristina was taken out of the same hotel on a stretcher, and that she was seen in an argument with police the night before. ABC News confirms that Bobbi was taken to the hospital, and notes that she was "awake and alert" at the time. Bobbi Brown will reportedly skip a concert in Nashville to be with his daughter.
Allison Samuels was at the Beverly Hilton Saturday, anxiously waiting for Whitney Houston to do an interview for VH1. She reports on the scene, moments after news broke of the singer’s tragic death.
When I arrived at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday afternoon the VH1 network crew was abuzz with news that singer Whitney Houston would soon be gracing that very room with her presence. She’d agreed to do an interview for Behind the Music on Brandy, and all had to be just right for the legendary diva to sit down for a chat. We joked among ourselves that we hoped she’d indeed show up and that “you never know about Whitney.’’
The body of Whitney Houston was removed from the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where she was found dead on Saturday. (Jae C. Hong / AP Photo)
None of us could have known that less than 45 minutes later, Houston’s assistant would interrupt our taping. “Whitney can’t make it.” Then later, “Whitney won’t be able to do it.” And finally, “Whitney’s dead.”
Her words hung in the air for a good long while before anyone could catch their breath. The four of us in the room at that moment repeated them to ourselves and then to each other aloud as we tried to process the news of Houston’s demise.
Among the legendary singer’s many achievements, Whitney Houston, who died Saturday at age 48, racked up seven consecutive No. 1 Billboard Hot 100 hits during the 1980s, smashing a record previously held by the Beatles and the Bee Gees. And she didn’t stop there. Watch video of her chart toppers, from ‘Saving All My Love for You’ to ‘Exhale.’
“Saving All My Love For You” (1985)
Weeks at the top: 1
“How Will I Know” (1985)
Weeks at the top: 2
The singer’s 15-year marriage to Bobby Brown was characterized by punch-outs, cocaine smoking, and spray-painted “evil eyes.” Chris Lee on the toll of their union on her career.
Just hours after discovering that his ex-wife Whitney Houston had died under mysterious circumstances in a Beverly Hills hotel room Saturday afternoon, Bobby Brown let loose an outpouring of emotion in the middle of a heart-rending and unexpectedly poignant concert with his ‘80s pop outfit New Edition at Landers Center in Southaven, Louisiana.
“First of all, I want to tell you that I love you all,” Brown said, tearfully, part way through the set. “Second, I would like to say ‘I love you Whitney.’ The hardest thing for me to do is to come on this stage.”
The singer’s comments provided a sad coda to Brown and Houston’s tumultuous 15 years of marriage, a union that unfolded like a gonzo soap opera across the pages of so many tabloids and a reality TV show, before crumbling under the weight of its numerous dysfunctions in 2007.
Over their time together, Houston and Brown positioned themselves as a kind of ‘80s R&B edition of Bonnie and Clyde—he, a hard-partying bad-boy pioneer of New Jack Swing, and she, America’s onetime sweetheart, the glowing beauty with a stunning multi-octave range—whose glaring personal disparities combined to create a dangerous codependent relationship. “He was my drug,” Houston told Oprah Winfrey in a widely publicized 2009 interview. “I didn’t do anything without him. I wasn’t getting high by myself. It was me and him together, and we were partners, and that’s what my high was—him. He and I being together, and whatever we did, we did it together. No matter what, we did it together.”
Whether or not drugs were involved in Houston’s tragic death Saturday, America’s destructive war on drugs played a main role in her downward spiral. Mansfield Frazier on a sensible fix.
The toxicology reports are not yet in, but speculation that drugs were involved in Whitney Houston’s death are running rampant, and given her sad history of abuse, such thoughts cannot be totally discounted. Additionally, one report, from the hotel guest occupying the room above Houston’s in the Beverly Hilton hotel, states that she heard two loud thuds and an “urgent” male voice emanating from the room below 20 minutes before Houston’s body was discovered. First reports say her body showed no outward signs of foul play or trauma, and no one should be surprised if that voice turns out to have been that of a drug supplier.
Toby Canham / Getty Images
Drug overdose, often called “accidental suicide,” is not only tragic but also ugly—very ugly. And no one, this writer included, wants to trash who once was perhaps the most beautiful and talented pop diva of her generation. But Whitney Houston’s death could be a teachable moment to a nation increasingly struggling with addiction—addiction (to myriad substances) that likely will only increase among the populace as the economy continues to sour.
If we can better understand how Houston’s life spiraled out of control due to her long-term drug abuse—no matter if drugs ultimately caused her untimely death or not—and what steps can be taken to curtail such tragedies, then perhaps we can use her death to finally begin to advocate for sane drug policies in this country. In this way maybe some degree of good can come out of this tragic loss.
Friends and family told touching anecdotes at her funeral Saturday. By Jacob Bernstein.
Mariah Carey tweeted that she was 'heartbroken' over the loss of her great friend and legendary singer Whitney Houston.The talented singers joined forces in this jaw dropping performance at the 1999 Academy Awards.
Watch video of the legendary singer’s chart toppers, from ‘Saving All My Love for You’ to ‘Exhale.’