Whitney Houston may be gone but she'll live on forever as one of the greatest singers in history, with a career filled with more success than most people dream of having.
Born in Newark, New Jersey, Whitney was destined for greatness from a young age, born into one of the most musically gifted families in America. Her mother is famed gospel singer Cissy Houston, while her cousins include renowned artists Dee Dee and Dionne Warwick. They nurtured her passion for music throughout her childhood and by the time she was a teenager, Whitney was already hard at work developing a career for herself on the New York music scene.
In 1983 she was discovered by Clive Davis singing in a nightclub and was signed on the spot. She spent the next two years crafting her debut album and the results paid off, catapulting her to superstardom with hits like "Saving All My Love for You," "How Will I Know" and "Greatest Love of All."
In 1987, she released her history-making follow-up record, featuring her dance classic "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" and "So Emotional," making her the first artist to have seven consecutive #1 chart toppers, besting The Beatles and the Bee Gees. She also became the first female artist to enter the Billboard Hot 100 Chart at #1.
Having conquered the music scene, Whitney set her sights on another medium—film. In 1992, she made her screen debut in the romantic drama The Bodyguard, opposite Kevin Costner. Costner played a former secret service agent haunted by his inability to protect President Ronald Reagan from the attack by John Hinckley. When a popular singer (Whitney) begins receiving death threats, he's hired as her bodyguard and they fall in love. The film broke box office records internationally and spawned the best-selling movie soundtrack of all-time, outselling Saturday Night Fever. The film's signature track—"I Will Always Love You"—a cover of the Dolly Parton hit, remains one of the most successful singles in history.
Three years later she made her big screen return in the Forest Whitaker-directed Waiting to Exhale starring Angela Bassett and Loretta Devine. The film was widely praised by critics and made $70 million in the United States alone.
Whitney's third motion picture, The Preacher's Wife starring Denzel Washington, also happened to be a dream come true for the singer as its gospel-heavy soundtrack realized her lifelong dream of recording the most successful gospel album on the Billboard chart.
In 1997, Whitney added television star to her list of accomplishments, playing the fairy godmother in the star-studded Disney TV movie, Cinderella. The movie also starred Brandy and Whoopi Goldberg and was watched by more than 60 million Americans, becoming the most-watched Disney original movie and the best-selling home video for a television movie.
Whitney's musical success cooled off in the 2000s, her incredible talent being overshadowed by tabloid reports of drug use and a destructive relationship with her husband, New Edition singer Bobby Brown. However, in 2011 she was set for a comeback.
She returned to multiplexes in the 1960s-set musical, Sparkle (2012) playing American Idol winner Jordin Sparks' mother. However, the hope was short-lived as the project would turn out to be her final film appearance.
On February 11, 2012, Whitney was found unresponsive in a Beverly Hills hotel bathtub. Paramedics pronounced her dead on the scene of what was later labeled an accidental drowning. She was paid tribute to the following night at the Grammy Awards by Jennifer Hudson, a long time supporter of hers.
The Preacher's Wife (1996)
Waiting to Exhale (1995)
The Bodyguard (1992)