A look back on Whitney Houston’s highs and lows: The legacy of an icon

More than 10 years after the untimely death of musical powerhouse Whitney Houston, the iconic entertainer is being remembered for her incredible highs and tragic lows.

With Fox Nation’s new docuseries “Whitney!” and the release of Houston’s new biopic, “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” fans will get an inside look at the six-time Grammy Award winner’s life in the spotlight, as well as what was going on behind closed doors.

Houston died on Feb. 11, 2012, the evening of the 54th Grammy Awards, at the age of 48. She was found dead in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The coroner would later rule that the singer died from accidental drowning and that “effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use,” had directly led to her death.

Despite the way she died, Houston will always be remembered for her contributions to the entertainment industry, as well as her legacy as “The Voice.”

Whitney Houston had several momentous chapters in her 48 years of life.
(Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella, Ltd.)


Here’s a look back at the ups and downs of Houston.

Early Days

Houston first started singing in the church as a child. The beginning of her career included singing backup for her mother Emily “Cissy” Houston, Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson and others, in addition to modeling.

However, things really took off for the young singer in 1983 when she was discovered and signed by producer Clive Davis. Davis was the founder of Arista Records, which has since been bought by Sony Music Entertainment. He would go on to be a frequent collaborator with Houston.

In 1985, her debut album titled “Whitney Houston” was released. By the following year, the album had become the bestselling record by a solo artist at the time. Houston ultimately won the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for her song “Saving All My Love for You.”

Whitney Houston won a Grammy Award in 1988 for

Whitney Houston won a Grammy Award in 1988 for “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me).”
(Ebet Roberts/Redferns)

In 1987, her follow-up album “Whitney” also garnered massive success. It produced arguably one of her best-known tracks of all-time, “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me),” which also earned her a Grammy. Her first two albums were certified Diamond.

One of Houston’s most memorable performances came during Super Bowl XXV in 1991. She gave a rousing performance of the “Star Spangled Banner.”

Bobby Brown Era

In 1989, after dating other high-profile celebrities, Houston got involved with fellow musician Bobby Brown. They got married in 1992 and had daughter Bobbi Kristina in 1993.

Their relationship was plagued with many highly publicized, tumultuous incidents and was also shown on Brown’s reality TV-show, “Being Bobby Brown.”

The couple divorced in 2007, but Brown was frequently blamed for introducing Houston to hard drugs and altering the positive trajectory of her career. In May 2022, Brown spoke on his relationship with Houston in an A&E project titled “Biography: Bobby Brown.”

“That was pretty rough,” Brown said of the narrative. “Not many people knew what was going on. Not many people knew how [those accusations] affected me. Not many people knew what they were talking about. They weren’t living, breathing, or waking up with us. They just took it to the outer limits of expressing what they thought was going on. But the truth is, they really didn’t know what was going on.”

Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown were married for 14 years.

Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown were married for 14 years.


“The Bodyguard”

In 1992, Houston dipped her toe into the acting pool, starring alongside Kevin Costner in “The Bodyguard.”

It was Houston’s first movie role, and the chemistry between the two stars was palpable. She starred as Rachel Marron, a superstar on the rise. Costner, who took on the role of Frank Farmer, was the bodyguard hired to protect her.

The movie returned to theaters this past November to mark 30 years since its premiere. Costner shared the news on his Instagram alongside a photo of him and Houston in the film.

“I couldn’t be more excited that we all get to re-experience this film and the magic that happened when Whitney stepped in front of the camera,” he wrote.

“I hope you’ll join us in celebrating this movie and her legacy,” Costner added.

“The Bodyguard” followed Whitney Houston’s character Rachel Marron who hired Kevin Costner’s character, Frank Farmer, to be her bodyguard.
(Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection)

The soundtrack for the film was responsible for Houston’s massive hit, “I Will Always Love You,” which remained number one on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for 14 weeks.

Not only did Houston win the Grammy for Record of the Year with the song, but she also holds the title to the best selling single of all time by any female artist.

Houston went on to act in other hit movies, including 1995’s “Waiting to Exhale,” and “The Preacher’s Wife” in 1996.

Final Years

Success kept coming for Houston, and in 2001, the singer signed a new recording contract with Arista Records for $100 million.

The following year, while giving an interview to Diane Sawyer, Houston addressed her thin frame, as well as rumors that she was struggling with an eating disorder and drug addiction.

Her then-husband Brown was by her side for the now infamous interview. “The biggest devil is me. I’m either my best friend or my worst enemy,” Houston told Sawyer.

This was also the interview when Houston uttered her well-known line, “crack is wack,” when speaking in depth about allegations she had gone to “crack rehab,” as described by Sawyer from a tabloid.

“First of all,” she told Sawyer, “Let’s get one thing straight. Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Let’s get that straight. Okay? We don’t do crack. We don’t do that. Crack is wack.”

Whitney Houston went to rehab twice for drug addiction.

Whitney Houston went to rehab twice for drug addiction.
(Alain BENAINOUS/Gamma-Rapho)

Seven years passed before Houston sat down for another in-depth interview. In 2009, she had an eye-opening conversation with Oprah Winfrey. By then, Houston’s reputation as a dependable and professional artist had dwindled within the industry.


In her discussion with Winfrey, Houston revealed that by the time “The Preacher’s Wife” was released in 1996, “(doing drugs) was an everyday thing. … I would do my work, but after I did my work, for a whole year or two, it was every day. … I wasn’t happy by that point in time. I was losing myself.”

Houston also admitted she entered a 30-day treatment program to get clean.

She ultimately returned to rehab in 2011, before her death the following year.

Impact Today

Houston wowed audiences for years with effortless and powerful vocals.

Her seventh and final studio album, “I Look to You,” was released in Aug. 2009 and skyrocketed to number one on the Billboard 200 charts. However, it was her music in the 1980s to the late 1990s that launched her to stardom.

Houston is considered one of the top American singers of all time with over 200 million records sold worldwide.

She influenced a generation of singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey. The day after the news of Houston’s death broke, Carey tweeted, “Heartbroken and in tears over the shocking death of my friend, the incomparable Ms. Whitney Houston.”

Mariah Carey, left, and Whitney Houston at the 71st Annual Academy Awards - Elton John AIDS Foundation Party in 1999.

Mariah Carey, left, and Whitney Houston at the 71st Annual Academy Awards – Elton John AIDS Foundation Party in 1999.
(Photo by KMazur/WireImage)

In an effort to recognize the depth of her character, Davis is determined to tell the authentic Whitney Houston story.

“Up to now, nobody has touched the real person of Whitney,” he told Fox News Digital of projects about the musical icon in the past.

Clive Davis serves as a producer on the new film

Clive Davis serves as a producer on the new film “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” starring Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston and Stanley Tucci as Davis.
(L. Cohen/WireImage)

Davis is an executive producer on the new biopic “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” which follows a young Whitney to the height of her fame.

Of the movie, out Dec. 23, Davis said, “I look forward to a great film that’s multidimensional, that is a celebration of an incredible artist and her music, but that tells the realistic story about struggles or aspirations or hopes.”

Leave a Comment