Whitney Houston: Dispatches From the Beverly Hilton

Allison Samuels, who interviewed Houston many times, was at the Beverly Hilton, where the troubled singer was found.


Five years ago, I pre-wrote an obituary for Whitney Houston after a disturbing interview with her in which she kept cursing and was obviously high. I knew at that point that either she was going to get better or she was going to die.

Last night, I was looking forward to seeing her. I was taping a segment for VH1’s Behind the Music about Akon at the Beverly Hilton, which was also where music mogul Clive Davis’s annual pre-Grammy party was set to be. VH1 was supposed to interview Houston right after me about the Davis party (he was her mentor), her upcoming movie, Sparkle, and getting back on track. She was also going to be interviewed for a Behind the Music about Brandy.

Someone kept banging on the door as we taped, so we stopped. The woman at the door, who it turned out was Houston's personal assistant, Lynn Volkman, said, “Whitney’s not coming, Whitney’s not coming.” And then finally said, “She’s dead.” Volkman was in a daze.

The crime lab truck was parked outside the Beverly Hilton. People were filtering into the hotel for the party, which appeared as though it would still happen.

I interviewed Whitney Houston many times. She was like a sister-girlfriend. She would always give me long hugs. She was such a classy woman when she had it together; and then she would be a horrible potty mouth when she did not. So many people tried to help her, from Davis to Denzel Washington. I’m sure they’re all devastated.