Why Whitney Houston's fans never stopped rooting for her.
By news of cocaine in Houston’s autopsy report.
Now that the cause of Whitney Houston’s death is public knowledge, the pop diva’s family has released a statement saying they are “saddened to learn” what killed her. The family expressed sorrow over the news that cocaine was in Houston’s system at the time of her death, even though they said they were “glad to have closure.” The toxicology report showed that cocaine contributed to her death, and could have helped trigger a heart attack that caused her to drown. Houston also had marijuana, Xanax, Flexeril, and Benadryl in her system at the time of her death.
‘The Houstons: On Our Own,’ the Lifetime reality series about Whitney’s family that premieres Wednesday, opens with a disturbing, alcohol-swilling visit to the singer’s grave, and gets worse from there. Allison Samuels on the clan’s craving for fame—and cash.
When Whitney Houston died suddenly earlier this year at just 48 years old, it was too soon. When her sister-in-law, brother, and daughter agreed to appear on Oprah Winfrey’s cable network just three weeks later to discuss her death, it was too soon. Now, just seven months after the New Jersey native’s burial, the Houston family is starring in a new Lifetime reality show that details the pain and aftermath of the superstar’s death—and once again it’s simply too soon.
Cissy Houston and Bobbi Kristina in the new television series “The Houstons: On Our Own.” (Richard Knapp / Lifetime)
Clips from The Houstons: On Our Own, which begins airing Wednesday on the cable network, reveal a family who witnessed and endured firsthand the singer’s tragic descent into drugs and chaos but clearly never expected such an untimely end.
Using Whitney’s melodic and now haunting voice as background music, the 14-part series opens with the family visiting the singer’s grave this past Mother’s Day. Nineteen-year-old Bobbi Kristina, Houston’s only child, is seen sipping an alcoholic beverage and leaning heavily on her unofficially adopted brother-turned-fiancé, Nick Gordon. The disturbingly intrusive scene also includes Whitney’s mother, Cissy, and brother, Gary, and yet still manages to feel forced and contrived. The viewer is pained not only by the family’s loss but also by their apparent need to display that loss in such a visible way.
Sparkle’s producers on Houston’s bittersweet role.
Mara Brock Akil remembers well the best advice she was given as a fledgling writer climbing the ranks in Hollywood. One night after working her usual 14-hour day on the comedy Moesha, a senior producer applauded Akil’s work ethic and pulled her aside. She strongly urged her to avoid forsaking a personal life for her burgeoning career in television, suggesting she’d live to regret it if she did.
“Whitney would tell me point blank, I lived this and that’s not the way it happens,” says Salim Akil (pictured here with his wife, Mara Brock). (Robyn Twomey for Newsweek)
A few years later, while forging toward a career that would place her as one of few African-American women to write and produce shows for network television, she met Salim Akil. Married for 13 years, together they have worked on an array of hip and racially diverse series, including The Game, Soul Food, and Girlfriends.
This summer, the duo will become the first African-American couple to write, direct, and produce a major film with a remake of the 1976 cult classic Sparkle, due out in August. Sparkle also marks Whitney Houston’s final appearance on film after her death from drowning and drug overdose in February.
Just months after the superstar’s death, her relatives are using the singer to flog TV appearances, reality shows, and a tell-all book. They say they want to protect the singer’s name—but some just need the income, says Allison Samuels.
Odds are that no matter the results of the 2012 presidential election, singer Whitney Houston’s death will still likely be deemed one of the biggest stories of year. Not only was Houston one of the most dominant superstars of a generation, she also died a rather tragic and untimely death. Those dynamics make the story of her life and passing even more fascinating to the masses.
Still, her demise following a long battle with drugs won’t be the only disturbing event remembered by fans and admirers of the singer. The actions and reactions from her family, ex-husband, and former cohorts in the aftermath of her death will surely go down in infamy as well.
From the interview with Oprah on the OWN network that showcased Houston’s beloved only child Bobbi Kristina speaking for the first time, to ex-husband Bobby Brown’s appearance on The Today Show, relatives of the late singer have wasted little time in their attempt to put the “real story” of Whitney all out there for the world to see. Unfortunately each version of the “real Whitney” appears to be tainted with inconsistencies and half-truths. Pat Houston, the singer’s sister-in-law and manager, told Oprah Winfrey the star was completely drug-free shortly before she died. Toxicology reports and the fact that she was doing handstands at the hotel pool indicated the opposite.
Bobby Brown, Houston’s ex-husband, told Matt Lauer on Today that he’d never done hard drugs until he met Whitney—apparently suggesting New Jersey-born superstar was the one who led him astray in the land of mischief and mayhem. Many close to Brown beg to differ.
Will follow Whitney Houston’s family.
The Lifetime network announced Friday that it is planning a docu-series under the working title The Houston Family Chronicles that will follow the late star’s family members, including daughter, Bobbi Kristina, and mother, Cissy Houston. “The tragic loss of Whitney Houston left a void in the hearts of people all over the world,” said Lifetime Networks vice president Rob Sharenow in a statement. “In this series, the multi-generations of the Houston family will bravely reveal their lives as they bond together to heal, love, and grow.” Whitney’s sister-in-law and former manager Pat Houston will reportedly headline the show.
Assistant discovered her ‘lying face down’ in bathtub.
Whitney Houston’s full autopsy was released Wednesday by the Los Angeles County coroner’s office, stating that she was found "lying face down in the bathtub filled with water” at the time of her death. A “spoon with a white crystal-like substance on it” and a “white powdery substance” were also found, the report said. Details of the autopsy of Houston, who died Feb. 11 at the Beverly Hilton hotel, had been previously leaked, but the full document had not been made public. A “rolled-up piece of white paper” was also found and Houston was described to have a “bloody purge coming from her nose.”
Unclear what substance he used before driving.
Bobby Brown was arrested in Los Angeles Monday afternoon on suspicion of driving under the influence. Whitney Houston’s ex-husband was pulled over for driving while talking on a cellphone at 12:20 p.m. and is now being held in a Van Nuys jail. Authorities have not said what substance led to Brown’s arrest. In 1996 Brown pleaded guilty to DUI and served eight days in jail following an arrest in Georgia.
To sever link with father, Bobby Brown.
Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, reportedly plans to change her name to Kristina Houston, so she can sever her link with her father, Bobby Brown. The 19-year-old, who was hospitalized shortly after her mother’s funeral for “stress and anxiety,” reportedly first pursued changing her name when her parents separated six years ago, but her mother nixed the idea. Bobbi Kristina is set to inherit her mother’s fortune when she turns 21.
Money will be put in a trust.
Bobbi Kristina Brown, Whitney Houston’s 19-year-old daughter, will inherit everything from her mother, the pop star’s will revealed on Wednesday. While the document doesn’t mention any specific assets, it leaves all of Houston's furnishings, clothing, jewelry, and cars to her surviving children, and Bobbi Kristina is her only child. The will was signed on Feb. 3, 1993, about a month before Houston gave birth to Bobbi Kristina. Houston’s money will be put in a trust for her daughter until she turns 21. Additional funds will be allocated to her when she turns 25, and she will receive the remaining balance at age 30.
Brandy’s younger brother is a VH1 star, but his most notorious role was in Kim Kardashian’s sex tape. How did 31-year-old Ray J end up courting 48-year-old Whitney Houston? And was he filming her for a reality TV show? Ramin Setoodeh investigates.
Of all the details connected with Whitney Houston’s final days, this ranks among the most peculiar: she supposedly got into a fight with another woman—over Ray J.
Brandy’s little brother might not be a household name, but he starred opposite Kim Kardashian in the leaked sex tape that launched her career. He also was Houston’s last public boyfriend.
Just two days before she died, Houston reportedly got into a shouting match with Stacy Francis, a contestant on the U.S. version of The X Factor who tried to talk to Ray J at a nightclub.
“Whitney told me she had known Ray since he was 10 years old,” Francis tells The Daily Beast. “She cared about him. I think we should all respect that.” Francis wouldn’t discuss what happened that night, but she says Ray J is a pal of hers and they never dated.
Whitney Houston’s daughter disappeared for several hours after her mother’s funeral—and was found using drugs, according to two sources close to the family. Allison Samuels on the plan to get her to rehab.
Just hours after watching an emotionally charged tribute to her doting mother, Whitney Houston, Bobbi Kristina Houston Brown decided she needed some time alone. So while friends and family convened at a local eatery in Newark, N.J., to remember the 48-year-old musical legend, Bobbi Kristina simply disappeared.
Paul Zimmerman / Getty Images
As Houston’s body was set to be transported to the Fairview Cemetery in Westfield, N.J., for burial Sunday morning, her family was in full panic mode trying to find the 18-year-old, who suffered at least two emotional breakdowns last week after the sudden death of her mother Feb. 11, according to two sources who spoke to The Daily Beast and are in close communication with Bobbi Kristina’s family.
“Everyone was freaking out and calling Bobbi Kristina’s cell,” said one source, a longtime family friend. “It was so much commotion and activity after the funeral that Bobbi Kristina just slipped away. Ms. Cissy [Houston, Whitney’s mother] was beside herself.”
In Westfield, NJ.
Singer Whitney Houston was laid to rest Sunday morning in a private burial service in New Jersey’s Fairview Cemetery, where she was buried next to her father, John Russell Houston, who died in 2003. She was remembered in a star-studded four-hour funeral Saturday at New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, where she learned to sing as a child. The Bodyguard star died Feb. 11 in a California hotel at the age of 48.
Allison Samuels remembers the legend she knew up close.
In true African-American, tradition family and friends gave singing superstar Whitney Houston a four-hour, roof-raising Baptist Church “home going” Saturday.
From the pulpit of New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, N.J., the place where Houston first sang as a child, I, along with millions of others, watched as an amazingly beautiful, truly generous and painfully complicated woman took her final bow.
Throughout the service many, like noted film director Tyler Perry and gospel singer BeBe Winans, reminded the world of Houston’s engaging warmth, wicked sense of humor, and unwavering faith in God. Faces like Houston’s longtime mentor Clive Davis and Pastor T.D. Jakes recounted precious moments with the musical icon during her last few months, with Davis suggesting Houston would be perfectly prepared for her comeback in front the angels in heaven. Musical tributes by Stevie Wonder, CeCe Winans, and R. Kelly filled the packed church with heartfelt emotion and lyrics centered on love, loss, and tears.
But for me, the most moving and telling truth of Houston’s life and death during the service were told by her one-time costar Kevin Costner.
Casket leaves church to “I Will Always Love You.”
In the final hour of Whitney Houston’s emotional funeral service, Patricia Houston, Whitney’s sister-in-law and manager, and Rev. Marvin Winans gave celebratory and touching eulogies. R. Kelly, joined by a choir, sang “I Look to You,” a song he wrote specifically for Houston. He was followed by gospel singer Cece Winans, who sang a soulful rendition of “Don’t Cry for Me.” At the end of the service, the world said goodbye to Whitney to the tune of “I Will Always Love You” as her casket was carried out of the church.
At Whitney Houston's funeral Saturday in Newark, friends and family shared touching anecdotes from her life, and her ex-husband showed up despite speculation that Houston's family would try to keep him out. Jacob Bernstein reports.
The funeral for Whitney Houston took place Saturday afternoon.
Attendees at New Hope Baptist Church, in Newark, N.J., near where Houston grew up, included Mariah Carey, Oprah Winfrey, Gayle King, Jesse Jackson, and the singer’s ex-husband, Bobby Brown.
In the end, Brown showed up, despite much speculation that the family would try to keep him out. He showed up late and then left after just minutes because Houston's family was unable or unwilling to provide seating for his large entourage, according to TMZ and CNN.
Fans sing near the funeral service for singer Whitney Houston at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark. (Charles Sykes / AP)
Brought nine guests, only two were invited.
TMZ reported that Bobby Brown was asked by Whitney’s family to leave the funeral when he showed up with nine guests, despite having only been invited with a plus-two. He reportedly also wanted to sit with his daughter, Bobbi Kristina, but the rest of Houston’s family didn’t want him or his nine guests near them.
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.’