Whitney Houston Dies at 48 (Photos)

The life and career of the singer and actress.


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Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston was born on Aug. 9, 1963, in Newark, N.J., to a highly musical family. Her mother was Cissy Houston, a member of a gospel group, who later launched a successful solo career. Dionne Warwick was her cousin, and Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul, was her godmother.

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Musical Success

As a teenager, Houston modeled and sang backup for many famous singers, including Chaka Khan. After  signing with Arista records, Houston released her debut album, Whitney Houston, in 1985. It was a mega-hit, selling more than 3 million copies in its first year of release, and eventually going on to sell more than 25 million copies globally, and even won Houston her first Grammy award.

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Houston married fellow singer Bobby Brown in 1992, and the couple had one child together, Bobbi Kristina. During the marriage, there were also allegations of physical and domestic abuse. Houston would later describe the marriage by saying, “The princess marries the bad boy.” The couple divorced in 2007. Many would go on to blame Brown for starting Houston’s drug use.

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Marriage to Bobby Brown

Her marriage to Brown also spawned the reality series, "Being Bobby Brown," where some of Houston's more bizarre behavior took the spotlight. During an interview around the same time, she famously said in an interview "Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack. We don't do crack. Crack is wack." She entered rehab in 2006, and divorced Brown in 2007.

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Movie Stardom

In the 1990s, she starred in a succession of hit films including The Bodyguard, Waiting to Exhale, and The Preacher's Wife. At the time of her death, Houston had just completed filming on a comeback movie, Sparkle, on which she had also served as executive producer.

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Whitney Houston

By the early 1990s, Houston was a mainstream pop star, but she also performed on solemn occasions. In 1991, she sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl just after the start of the Gulf War. The recording of her performance went on to earn more than $500,000 for the Red Cross. She also performed at the White House for a dinner honoring Nelson Mandela in 1994.

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"I Will Always Love You"

In 1992, Houston starred in The Bodyguard, and the film's colossal success helped launch her movie career. She also sang the film's ballad, "I Will Always Love You," which became the highest-selling single by a female artist in history and won multiple Grammy Awards.


Houston met with President George H.W. Bush in the Oval Office in 1990, while in Washington, D.C., to participate in the Youth Leadership Forum. 

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Houston sold more than 170 million albums, becoming one of the most successful female musical acts in history. She is also the only artist to have seven consecutive number one hits on the Billboard Top 100 list. Her hit singles included "I Will Always Love You" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody." The Guiness Book of World Records lists Houston as the "most awarded female artist of all time," with a string of awards including 2 Emmys, 6 Grammys, 16 Billboard Music Awards, 23 American Music Awards, and many others for a total of more than 400 awards during her lifetime.


"I Look to You"

Houston's final album, "I Look to You," debuted in 2009. Although it received good reviews and was a commerical hit, Houston's live performances in support of the album were less well received, with many fans suggesting she had lost much of her incredible talent.

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Princess of Pop

Houston shows off an American Music Award in 1986.

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80s Style

Houston performs at New York's Madison Square Garden in 1987.

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Big Hair, Bigger Voice

Performing in Paris in 1988.

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Trying It On Her Own

Whitney appears at Clive Davis's annual pre-Grammys party in 2007. She was set to attend the same annual party in 2012 when she was found dead.