In order to dive into the life and work of Whitney Houston, we are going to answer a series of established questions. The goal is to get a closer look a Whitney Houston’s life, as well as understanding much more what really happened to her during her life and what led her to a tragic ending.
What follows is the rise and fall of one of the greatest artists of the twentieth century. Some may call it The Twilight of a Diva.
Name: Whitney Elizabeth Houston
Nickname: Nippy (given to her by her father; it was the name of a “mischievous character” from a comic strip he used to read to her).
Historical birthplace: She was born in Newark, New Jersey, in the Northeast of the United States of America. She was born on August 9, 1963. It was a Friday.
Place where she died: The last moments of Whitney were spent in a hotel room in Beverly Hills, California, in the Southwest of the United States of America. There, she was found dead on a Saturday. It was right before —actually, on the eve— of the 2012 Grammy Awards. It was February 11th.
Point out the several geographical areas that she lived and her circumstances:
Other than at her family home when she was a child, Whitney lived in several places once she got to stardom. In New Jersey —the same state where she was born and raised—, she had a house at 22 North Gate Road, in Mendham Township. Allegedly, at one of the lowest points of her career and her personal life, Clive Davis had to step in and stop her from losing that house. Clive Davis was the owner of Arista Records. It was him who discovered her back in the eighties and signed her to his company.
Sadly, being close to lose a home was nothing something entirely surprising for her. She once had what you would call a traditional home in Alpharetta, Atlanta (in the southern state of Georgia). That’s where she lived with her then-husband, Bobby Brown. The house was enclosed in the exclusive at an exclusive gated community called Country Club of the South. The address was 1014 Tullamore Place.
After that, she divorced Bobby Brown and decided to stay in Alpharetta, but downsizing. She then crossed the Chatahoochee River and got into another gated community: this time, its name was Northgate at Ellard. This smaller house was located in Riverbend Manor Drive.
Rumor has it she also lived some time in California. According to real estate agent Mike Pasha, she rented a house in the 27700 block of Hidden Trail. Mike and his wife now live in said house, and apparently got the information from the time they bought it. Mike goes even a bit further and says he believes that “she rented the house to be close to her drug counsellor around 2006” (Pasha, 2012).
Lastly, and according to an unchecked source, she also lived in Miami for a while. This source claims to know a man who had a job at Williams Island, in the Miami suburb of Aventura. This man, in turn, claims that Whitney once had a condo on Williams Island. This piece of information would make Florida the fourth state where she lived during her life.
As we mentioned above, Whitney died in a hotel room in Beverly Hills, California. Shortly after, her body was taken back to New Jersey, where she was buried at the Fairview Cemetery, in Westfield. She was finally home; she had come full circle.
Whitney was a very religious person all her life, having spent all her childhood singing in a Baptist choir. Even through her darkest periods, through her greatest struggles, she never forgot about God and about her spirituality. The fact that this might have conflicted her inside, is something only she could know, and thus, something that we can only speculate about.
As far as ideologies go, she came from a family of Democrats. Her father actually was involved in the Democrats campaign that put the first black man as a mayor ever in Newark. Other than that, she always sprinkled her speech here and there talking about race issues. So, in short, today she would be on the opposite side of Donald Trump’s visions for what the US must be.
Whitney was married to singer and songwriter Bobby Brown. They celebrated their wedding on July 18th, 1992. They each went their separate ways 14 years later, after Whitney filed for divorced on September 8th, 2006.
They had one daughter, named Bobbi Kristina Brown, who was born on March 4th, 1993. Tragically, she was found unresponsive in a bathtub in 2015. She would die sometime later, after spending six months in a coma, on July 26, 2015. She was only 22 years old.
Education in USA:
Whitney Houston went to high school in Caldwell, New Jersey. It was a Catholic girls’ school called Mount Saint Dominic Academy. That’s where she graduated, back in 1981. Since we are going to refer to this friendship later on, we must point out that it was at that school that she became friends with Robyn Crawford, who would become her best friend, her roommate, and her assistant.
How many albums did Whitney have?
She published a grand total of 10 albums. From those, 7 were regular studio albums; two where soundtracks to two different movies she starred in; lastly, she also published one live album.
What is Whitney Houston’s best-selling album?
It was the soundtrack to the movie The Bodyguard, published in 1992. She has sold —to this day—45 million copies of that one.
How many diamond albums does Whitney Houston have?
She has three: Whitney Houston (her first album, from 1985), Whitney (her second album, from 1987), and The Bodyguard soundtrack (her fourth album, from 1992). This fact made Whitney the first black artist to have achieved such an honor. It means that each album has sold, at least, 10 million copies in the US.
Briefly explain the main and secondary themes of the following lyrical works:
a. Greatest Love Of All.
Main theme: it’s better to live your life in your terms, because when you love yourself, you don’t depend on the rest to be alright.
Secondary theme: we need to show our children that only inside of them lies the answer to their own future.
b. Love Will Save The Day.
Main theme: no matter how hard life hits you, you’ll always have love to hang on to.
Secondary theme: life is hard and is going to hit you and put you down.
c. Choose some other lyrics: Saving All My Love For You.
Main theme: a woman tries to make peace with the fact the man she loves already has another love.
Secondary theme: a woman jeopardizes her entire happiness putting her life in the hands of a man. Nowadays, it could be considered for some as an antifeminist tune.
Anecdotes about the romance between Whitney Houston and:
a. Ray J.
1) Some people saw them having dinner together at Le Petit Four, a restaurant in Los Angeles. Reportedly, that was on February 3rd, 2012; just eight days before Whitney died.
2) Ray J. was part of a reality TV show where she was surrounded by women. Whitney didn’t seem to care about this, as she trusted him.
3) The couple never explicitly confirmed their romantic relationship.
b. Kevin Costner.
1) They had a close bond, but it never crossed the limits of their friendship. At least, not according to the two of them. However, it was a beautiful friendship and, after her death, the actor has said that she was “his own true love”.
2) Costner says that she caught his attention for simple reasons: «I saw her like every red-blooded male would see her: I thought she was really pretty» (Costner, 2012).
Explain Whitney Houston’s relationship with the North American politics according to these two articles (articles are to be founded on the activity chart):
1) In the first article, Whitney is said to be portrayed by critics as a sell-out, as being too white. She even was booed as some soul music awards she attended. It’s as if Whitney,
a black girl, had to put a fight all her life to show everyone that she was black enough. They did go as far as mocking her, calling her Whitey Houston. Maybe the world just wasn’t ready for the mad success of a dark-skinned woman yet.
2) In the second article, the writer talks about the relationship between Whitney and her religion. She grew up in a Baptist church, so the religious/spiritual side of her was ingrained since an early age. The author here seems to misunderstand that a person can be living a hell inside —even with drug abuse— and still be close to God. Lastly, Whitney was concerned about fighting for the rights of black people and other populations under the thumb of the power elite, and she showed it by donating money to some organizations.
Cultural influences of Whitney Houston in the annals of North American discography?
As we mentioned earlier, Whitney Houston was the first black artist to achieve an impressive record: getting three of her albums to be certified as Diamond.
But impressive sales aside, she is considered by many as the real first household name in the entire world who was black, at least as a woman. It wouldn’t be too adventurous to say that she did for black female artists what Michael Jackson did for male ones.
As far as singing goes, her mix of styles gave her a unique sound that paved the ground for later artists like Beyoncé or Mariah Carey. Whitney was soul, Whitney was pop, Whitney was jazz, Whitney was gospel; and all at the same time. Actually, Clive Davis —the owner of Arista records, where she recorded— referred to her as The Voice. Many years later, there’s a TV show now called just that, The Voice, where we can see any number of up-and-coming singers trying to imitate Whitney’s style.
She might have passed away, but her influence will live forever.
Main aspects on Whitney Houston’s biography: childhood, adulthood, traumas, accidents, etc.
The fruit never falls far from the tree, as the saying goes. Whitney Houston was born in a family where music was paramount. So ever since she was born on August 9th 1963 in Newark, New Jersey, music surrounded Whitney and became instantly one of the loves of her life.
Whitney had her mother Cissy to look up to. Cissy Houston was a backing singer for the likes of Roy Hamilton, Dionne Warwick, Elvis Presley, and Aretha Franklin. A bit later, she decided to go solo and started a career that led her to win two Grammy Awards. So Whitney had her mother as a beacon to show her the way. As for singing, she discovered really early that she had a gift for it. Still a child, Whitney would get a rapturous response from the congregation at her local church every time she sang.
But it doesn’t end with Whitney’s mother. She also had two cousins who were singers too: Dionne Warwick and her sister, Dee Dee Warwick. Just to give an idea of the greatness of Dionne, she won the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2019.
On the father side, Whitney had John Russell Houston. Her dad was an entertainment talent manager, and through his entertainment management company, he helped at certain points the careers of both Cissy and Whitney.
To complete the picture of Whitney’s family, we need to add her siblings. Gary Garland was a professional basketball player who played for the Denver Nuggets in the 1979-80 season; he was Whitney’s half-brother. Michael Houston, on the other hand, was Whitney’s older brother and had a much closer relationship with her. He too was involved in the music business as a songwriter. After Whitney’s death, grief took over Michael’s life: he felt he should’ve been with her that day.
If you go a bit deeper into the family roots, we’ll find Susan Bell Drinkard. She was Whitney’s great grandmother and, as we can see from a picture taken when she was young, the resemblance with Whitney is jaw-dropping. Finally, we get to Delia Mae Drinkard, who was Whitney’s grandmother. She was born in 1901, in Freeport, Walton County, Florida.
And you might ask yourself: is there anyone carrying this family’s torch today? Well, somebody tried. On October 24th, 2012, a documentary was released. Its name was The Houstons: On our own, and it was a TV reality show in which the members of the Houston family portrayed how was their life after Whitney’s death. One of the main characters there was Riyah Houston, a niece of Whitney’s. Los Angeles Times deemed the show as “an uncomfortable, intrusive watch” (Kennedy, 2012).
But now let’s forget about family ties for a minute and talk about Whitney’s career.
Whitney was discovered while she was singing at a nightclub. Clive Davis, owner of Arista Records, saw something in her that he had seen in scarce occasions before. In fact, he was the man who discovered big household names such as Janis Joplin, Bruce Springsteen, Santana, Aerosmith, or, later on, Ace of Base, Puff Daddy, and Usher. The man had an eye for finding talent.
After she signed with Arista, she released her first album in 1985, simply called Whitney Houston. It became an instant hit. In 1986, she won a Grammy Award for a single from that album, Saving all my love for you (a song we already discussed above). She was on her way up.
After another successful album, there came Whitney’s biggest moment ever: she was cast to star in a Hollywood movie. At the time, she was thinking about starting an acting career, but wanted to give it a try first with smaller roles. As she declared to Rolling Stone magazine, “»I never thought I’d be co-starring with Kevin Costner!» (Smooth Radio, 2022). Sure enough, nothing was quite the same after The Bodyguard.
The main song in the movie soundtrack, I will always love you, won Houston three Grammy’s in 1994 —among them, the prestigious Album of the year and Record of the year. That was the song that really made it for her. It was a smashing hit worldwide, turning Whitney Houston into a household name all across Planet Earth.
Meanwhile, as she was sitting on the top of the world, she married Bobby Brown, an R&B singer. In 1992, everything looked perfect, but Whitney’s life soon started to go downhill. At home, she was the victim of domestic abuse by her new husband. It didn’t help that at the time they both battled with drug abuse. Whitney’s world started to crumble at the base.
The 90’s saw Whitney struggling behind closed doors while she was trying to replicate the success of The Bodyguard. She never quite got to it. By the turn of the century, she was forced to cancel a number of shows on account of her state. Around this time, in 2002, she gave an interview to Diane Sawyer that many, to this day, see as a turning point, downwards. She appears to be extremely thin, in very bad shape. Even her spoken voice is just a shadow of what it used to be. It led many to believe that she was about to suffer a breakdown.
In the midst of all of this, Whitney arguably made one of the worst decisions of her life: she was going to be a part of her husband’s new reality TV show, Being Bobby Brown. The footage showed on millions of TV screens around the world was the last straw on the camel’s back. Whitney’s life had reached a new low, and it was being shown publicly. Nevertheless, in 2006, she still was named by Guinness World Records as most-awarded female artist in history.
Things ended a year later, in 2007, after she had filed for divorce. The couple had had a daughter, Bobbi Cristina Brown, and Whitney got her full custody. Whitney was trying to get her life back on track. To show for it, she released a new record in 2009, called I look to you. About that record, she told Entertainment Tonight, “the songs themselves will speak to you and you’ll understand where I am and some of the changes I’ve gone through for the better». The accompanying tour to that record had mixed reviews though, with many putting a negative note on the state of her voice.
When the year 2012 arrived, there were rumours going around claiming that Whitney was in trouble financially. She stepped up and denied it all. Actually, she was working again. She was preparing her comeback to the screens with Sparkle. It was a musical film about group in the style of the Supremes —a movie that had already been done in 1976, this was a remake. She was also being considered to be a part of The X Factor US as a judge, which always helps with one’s popularity. Sadly, she never got to enjoy neither of the two.
On February 11th, 2012, Whitney was staying at the Beverly Hilton, in Beverly Hills, California. Her mentor, Clive Davis, had put together his traditional pre-Grammy’s get-together, to which Whitney was invited. She was actually staying on the 4th floor, just above where the party was going to be held. At a point during the afternoon, her assistant, Mary Jones, left her in her suite to go find cupcakes for her. When she came back, she found Whitney in the bathtub, facedown, and unresponsive. She looked for help desperately. Whitney got CPR performed on her, but nothing could be done. Her death was pronounced at 4 pm that day. Later reports pointed that the cause of her death had been accidental drowning, something to which had contributed traces of cocaine and other drugs found in her system. She was only 48 years old.
To many, she will always be one of the greatest stars of all time, despite all the noise around her stardom. To others, she’ll always be a tormented soul who even was sexually abused as a child by her cousin, Dee Dee Warwick. This fact surfaced after the 2018 documentary Whitney, and it’s now seen by some as a trauma Whitney never got to overcome. It certainly might explain the mental health issues that she had to face during her lifetime.
At any rate, she remains as one of the greatest artists of all time, as reflects the time when she sang the USA’s national anthem at the Superbowl in 1991 —although, even then, she had to face critics who said she didn’t sing live and was lip-synching—. That day, by the way, it was very cold in Tampa, so she decided last minute to switch a short black dress for a tracksuit and a white bandana. Her voice set the stadium and the entire country on fire.
As for her private side, one anecdote says more about Whitney than anything else could. There was this one time that she went into a jewellery with her assistant. There were two white employees serving one customer, also white. They weren’t paying any attention to the diva neither to her assistant, who was Spanish. Just then, a third employee came to serve them. Suddenly, he realized who really the person on the other side of the counter was. At that moment, the other two tried to steal the sale from his colleague. Whitney asked the boy who had helped them if he worked on commission. She then told him to go get his manager. She wanted to make sure the boy would get his commission from the expensive jewels she was about to buy.
Friends – relationships.
a) Kevin Costner. Whitney became friends with him during the shooting of The Bodyguard. Costner insisted that she should play the role of Rachel Marron, calling her on the phone himself. He truly believed in her talent, and advised her not to take acting classes. He promised he wouldn’t let her fall. And he didn’t. After her death, Costner stated that she was “his one true love”.
b) Dee Dee Warwick. According to a 2018 documentary by Kevin MacDonald, Dee Dee sexually abused Whitney when she was a child —as well as her brother, Gary. The abuse caused on Whitney by her cousin has led many to believe that this well could have been the source for Whitney’s self-torture. Intimate friend Robyn Crawford (see below) believes that if that really happened, she would have known about it.
c) Robyn Crawford. She became friends with Whitney when they were teenagers. That friendship turned into something deeper, being even physical for two years. After that, they remained friends during all of Whitney’s life, with Robyn being in the star’s team to sort of keep her anchored in her past; in other words, Robyn was Whitney’s safety net. As Robyn herself puts it, “we were friends, we were lovers, we were everything to each other”. After Whitney signed with Arista, she told Robyn they had to stop all physical relationships between them, which Robyn understood.
d) Michael Jackson. They met in the 80’s, when they both were superstars, although Whitney hadn’t yet starred in The Bodyguard. Whitney had also gone out with Jermaine —Michael’s brother. According to English paper The Sun, Whitney and Michael had a brief relationship in 1991. This source and others claim that Michael was deeply in love with her, and that she always was the love of his life. Speculations aside, they did keep in touch through the years, supporting each other as two similar people, walking two similar paths.
e) Eddie Murphy. According to Robyn Crawford’s book A Song For You: My Life with Whitney Houston, Whitney had a big crush on Eddie Murphy right before she got married to Bobby Brown. Robyn recalls one particular day when Eddie was supposed to come for dinner to Whitney’s mansion in New Jersey… but never showed up. Whitney was devastated, to say the least. Later on, on the morning she was getting married to Bobby, Eddie called to tell her she was making a mistake. Whitney decided to go ahead anyway.
f) Bobby Brown. He’s been mentioned any number of times during the writing of this text. In a nutshell, he was this R&B artist who was married to Whitney for 14 years. He’s believed to have contributed to the diva’s fall and final crashing.
g) Nick Gordon. He was treated like a son by Whitney. She took him in when he was 12 years old, after his parents died. Just a few months after Whitney’s death, Nick and Bobbi Cristina Brown —Whitney’s blood-related daughter— made public that they were a couple. Bobbi died just like her mother, in 2015. Nick passed away a few years later, on New Year’s Eve 2019.
h) Jermaine Jackson. According to English paper The Sun, he had an affair with the diva in the mid-eighties, even though he was married at the time. It was confirmed by LaToya Jackson on The Talk TV show. A video of Jermaine and Whitney from ’84, where you can see them singing together, makes one wonder if anything was happening at the time of the shooting.
i) Robert de Niro. Again according to Robyn Crawford, the star of Taxi Driver once had a massive crush on Whitney. He tried to approach her any number of times, inviting her to dinner and such. Sadly for De Niro, the feeling was mutual, so she gently rejected him.
Whitney Houston’s contributions on the cinematography/theatrical representation.
Her first appearance as an actress was on the sitcom Gimme a Break, in 1984. Then 21 years old, she played the role of Rita. At age 29, she starred in big Hollywood production The Bodyguard, to which we have referred a few times during this text. That was in the year 1992. Three years later, she came back to the big screen to star in Waiting to Exhale, to which she also contributed with the soundtrack. Only a year after, in 1996, she played a role in a romantic Christmas movie alongside Denzel Washington; the movie was The Preacher’s Wife. In 1997, she appeared in TV musical movie Cinderella. Right before her passing away, she had been shooting a movie called Sparkle, which we mentioned above. It was destined to be her last acting job. It was also her last gift to everyone who loved her: she died a few months before the movie was officially released.
Is Whitney Houston an icon of fashion? A diva? A legend? How?
Nowadays we see sequins all over the place: on jeans, on jackets, even on shoes. But if there’s one true icon who made sequins fashionable, that was Whitney Houston. Throughout the 80’s, her style both on and off the stage led the way for thousands of women who looked up to her to get inspired clothes-wise. She also wore a lot of mini dresses and gowns, as well as jeans with black leather jackets. She also loved wearing pantsuits and blazers. Perhaps, nothing shows more her as a true fashion icon than her 1987 video I Wanna Dance With Somebody. All her outfits —and her different hairstyles and jewellery— from that video remain current and fashionable in the year 2022, still keeping Whitney as an inspiration for both designers and public.
The things that made Whitney Houston a legend, a diva, are hard to put into words. She continued a tradition of great female black artists such as Donna Summer, Tina Turner, Aretha Franklin, or Diana Ross. However, Whitney took it all to the next level. She set the music industry on fire during the 80’s, releasing material that it’s still remembered today.
She also invented a whole new way of singing, in that unique mix of soul, gospel, jazz, R&B, blues, and pop. You can clearly hear her style in the likes of Christina Aguilera, Beyoncé, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Lady Gaga… or any aspiring singer on The Voice or X Factor: Whitney is the benchmark everyone keeps trying to reach. In a way, they all stem from her.
On the other hand, without her there wouldn’t have been any TLC, Destiny’s Child, or Rihanna, to name a few black female artists. At least, they would’ve been different acts to the ones we’ve come to know. Thanks to Whitney, the world accepted a female black artist as a megastar, which hadn’t quite happened before. I mean, if there’s one thing that we all can agree on, it’s that —to some degree— we all love and enjoy listening to Whitney Houston. If in doubt, the average newbie just needs to head to YouTube and type If I Told You That. It’s a video where she appears dancing and singing face to face with George Michael. That video alone is enough to understand her greatness.
Whitney Houston’s repercussions:
What is your point of view on the figure of Whitney Houston?
I was born in late 1984, so by the time I was 4, she was already a megastar. However, my first memory of her comes from The Bodyguard. It was a big hit in Spain, as in many other countries. Due to her success with this movie, I wasn’t aware of her true talents as a singer and an artist until much later. As humans, we tend to reduce people to one thing, just to make things simpler. And that’s what I did with Whitney for years: “oh, she’s the black woman from The Bodyguard”. Today, on the verge of turning 40, I truly understand her influence in popular music, as well as in pop culture. She broke down many barriers and led the way to other great artists such as Mariah Carey or Jennifer Lopez. I can’t think of anyone who could be up there with her as a beacon for generations of artists to come, other than perhaps Michael Jackson.
As for her personal struggles, I do believe that back then we didn’t use to speak about issues like mental health nor see addictions as a mental problem. Or rather, we used to name-tag people with those kinds of problems with the words crazy or derailed, when all they were doing was crying out for help. And I believe Whitney was.
Can we consider her as a leftist political activist or as a feminist?
I don’t like to think of people in terms of right and left. You either love people and are supportive and close to them or you aren’t. Whitney fell into the first category. For instance, one of her biggest gestures ever was singing in South Africa right after the apartheid had finally been put to an end. She was the first major artist to put a show in the reformed country, which had such a huge meaning at the time.
In regard to her being posed as a feminist, I do think her work contributed to free many women around the world, who finally understood that they could dress up and dance and have a good time without having to ask permission from a man.
Can we point out her artistic works as pop music or soul?
Even if the song sounds like pop, Whitney was everything at the same time: pop, gospel, jazz, soul, R&B. Maybe people feel the need to enclose her in a little box, and they can, but they’ll never be able to do that to her voice.
What is the contribution of Whitney Houston to the feminism/LGTBIQ movement?
First of all, there’s the music. Whitney’s tunes seem to speak directly to the heart of people who need to be freed from both their surroundings and from themselves. Her music taps into this feeling. That’s why her music has been used a million times in drag queen shows and the like. There’s something in her songs that just makes you want to go, “screw it, I’m gonna be myself”. Other than that, her rise as a female star showed us all that successful, millionaire women could also exist. As for the LGTBIQ collective, I think nowadays she would’ve come out as bisexual and, in that way, strengthen the collective all she could.
What are the most similar and different aspects between Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown? What is your point of view?
They both were American, they both were black, they both were singers, they both suffered from substance abuse. I think that’s about as similar as they were. Although she struggled all her life to keep afloat, there always was a light inside Whitney that was trying to come out, and one can see that even on interviews. The same can’t be said about him. Once he used violence against her, he crossed a line that’s now impossible not to see. You can never come back from that. And the worst of it all is what caused that abuse: jealousy. The guy couldn’t stand that his wife was more successful than him, hence the hatred. Whitney even had to change the name of her film production company from Houston Productions to Brown House Productions to try and tackle Bobby’s little man’s complex. I guess Eddie Murphy was right, after all.
Which one of her songs you admire the most?
I’m going to have to go with If I Told You That from 1998, which I already mentioned above. I love a lot of her 80’s stuff, but that song really hits the spot for me. I especially love it as a duet with George Michael —recorded in 2000—. It really shows everything she is, everything she was, and everything she may be.
What was the main message of the following songs:
a) So emotional. This song is about longing for someone when you have really fallen for them, to the point where it almost physically hurts.
b) When you believe. This tune talks about spirituality, about finding something beyond your understanding to connect yourself to; only if you do that, the things you want in life will happen.
c) I will always love you. The theme here is heart-breaking goodbye between two lovers. The one doing the leaving knows very well that they must finish business between them two. However, she will always love him or her.
d) One moment in time. In this song, Whitney sings about the pursuit of dreams, about believing that you’re going to make it and keep forging ahead. And right before you get it, right before complete success, that’s where happiness lives.
What is the plot of the movie The Bodyguard?
An actress/singer named Rachel Marron needs protection when she starts to be haunted by a maniac that threatens her life. It all happens around the time she is nominated for an Academy Award as best actress. To protect her, they hire an ex-Secret Service agent —a guy who already worked as security for Carter and Reagan— who slowly starts to fall for her. But right after the first night together, he’s conflicted about his duties as a bodyguard versus the feelings he’s got for her. The movie revolves around the tension between these circumstances: their possible/impossible love and the threats against the entertainer’s life.
Which are the main and secondary characters?
Rachel Marron, the singer who needs protection (played by Whitney Houston).
Frank Farmer, the bodyguard (played by Kevin Costner).
Sy, Rachel’s day-to-day manager, so to speak (Gary Kemp).
Devaney, Rachel’s chief of operations (Bill Cobbs).
Tony, Rachel’s old head of security, who keeps working with Farmer once he replaces him (Mike Starr).
Portman, an ex-Secret Service who’s trying to kill Rachel, a.k.a., the bad guy (Tomas Arana).
Fletcher, Rachel’s little son (DeVaughn Nixon).
Nicki, Rachel’s little sister, who pays an unknown guy to kill Rachel and ends up killed by that same guy by mistake (Michele Lamar Richards).
Henry, Rachel’s valet, who quickly turns into Frank’s right hand (Christopher Birt).
Stalker, a guy who sends anonymous life-threatening letters to Rachel but turns out to be inoffensive (Tony Pierce).
Briefly explain the main and secondary themes of this movie.
The theme that this movie revolves around is the pressures that a superstar has to go through in her day-to-day life. One of those pressures may be causing envy in others by her level of success, leading to a situation where her life is in danger. In the movie, that envious person is portrayed by her own sister, which speaks about the unsafety of a superstar: not even family is a secure place.
One of the secondary themes is impossible love. Frank Farmer quickly becomes involved with his employer and that causes him a big distress, as he feels he won’t be able to deliver his job as well as he should. He’s been tormenting himself for years because when he attended his own mother’s funeral, he didn’t go to work that day. And that precise day, his past employer —Ronald Reagan— got shot.
A third but less obvious theme is women empowerment. In the movie, we see a whole cast of people (managers, dancers, security, gardeners, drivers) who make a living thanks to the talent of one woman. She remains at the center of this big machinery that puts food on many people’s plates. For 1992, it was groundbreaking. It also mirrored Whitney’s own life.
A fourth theme, albeit minor, is interracial love relationships. In the last scene of the movie, when Rachel runs down the stairs of the airplane to go kiss Frank, she does it just like so many white women before ran to kiss Cary Grant and the like. When the camera goes around them, during that last big kiss, it was the first time ever for a black woman living that kind of scene in a movie. That was also groundbreaking.
The former text has been developed and elaborated using the following sources. Please do not apply the anti-plagiarism test on this section, as there is a lot of copy & paste to show the links to the assorted websites. Also, please do not consider this as a part of the activity itself page-counting-wise.
• “What is Whitney Houston’s nickname?”. (2022). The Flat. https://olarkas.pakasak.com/united-states/what-is-whitney-houstons-nickname/
• “Whitney Houston (1964-2012)”. (2022). Black Past. https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/houston-whitney-1964-2012/
• “Secrets of Whitney Houston’s Real Estate”. (2022). Networx. https://www.networx.com/article/secrets-of-whitney-houstons-real-estate
• “Who Bought The Home Whitney Houston Lived in During Her Time in Laguna Hills?”. (2012). Patch.com. https://patch.com/california/lagunaniguel-danapoint/whitney-huston-s-home-in-nellie-gail-laguna-hills
• “Drugs And Alcohol Transformed Whitney Houston Into A Different Person”. (2012). The Judiciary Report. https://cc.bingj.com/cache.aspx?q=did+whitney+houston+have+condo+in+miami&d=4592217851839681&mkt=es-ES&setlang=en-GB&w=G7V5SAtjE4AoTPb_8vw-rnZahPLAbZIT
• Andrew, C. (2019). “Opinion: Whitney Houston’s Cause Of Death: Religion”. Instinct Magazine. https://instinctmagazine.com/opinion-whitney-houstons-cause-of-death-religion/
• “The Religion and Political Views of Whitney Houston”. (2012). Hollow Verse. https://hollowverse.com/whitney-houston
• Silverman, S. M. (2006). “Whitney Houston Files for Divorce”. People. https://people.com/celebrity/whitney-houston-files-for-divorce/
• Simon, A., Paris, L. (2022). “The truth about Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown’s relationship”. Grunge. https://www.grunge.com/400108/the-truth-about-whitney-houston-and-bobby-browns-relationship/
• “Reflecting on the life of the singer Whitney Houston”. (2022). Chillout Radio. https://chilloutradio.com/whitney-houston/amp/
• “Whitney Houston: Discography”. (2022). All Music. https://www.allmusic.com/artist/whitney-houston-mn0000820434/discography
• Rettig, J. (2020). “Whitney Houston Is The First Black Artist With Three Diamond Albums”. Stereo Gum. https://www.stereogum.com/2104174/whitney-houston-diamond-albums-record/news/
• Setoodeh, R. (2017). “Whitney Houston’s Final Romance: Was Ray J Using Her for Reality TV?”. The Daily Beast. https://www.thedailybeast.com/whitney-houstons-final-romance-was-ray-j-using-her-for-reality-tv?ref=scroll
• “The Strange Relationship Whitney Huston Had With Ray J Before Her Death”. (2022). News and Gossip. https://bbcgossip.com/news/the-strange-relationship-whitney-huston-had-with-ray-j-before-her-death/
• Eames, T. (2022). “Kevin Costner’s beautiful relationship with «one true love» Whitney Houston revealed”. Smooth Radio. https://www.smoothradio.com/artists/whitney-houston/bodyguard-1992-kevin-costner-relationship/
• Elder, L. (2012). “Whitney Houston critics called her ‘too white’ — black Republicans can relate”. Washington Examiner. https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/whitney-houston-critics-called-her-too-white-black-republicans-can-relate
• “Whitney Houston, Biography (1963–2012)”. (2018). Biography.com. https://www.biography.com/musician/whitney-houston
• “Dionne Warwick”. (2022). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionne_Warwick
• John Russell Houston Age, Net Worth & All Biography – Updated Nov 2022”. (2022). Biography Mask. https://biographymask.com/john-russell-houston/
• Lovejoy, H. (2022). “Who was Whitney Houston’s talent manager father John Russell Houston?”. Smooth Radio. https://www.smoothradio.com/artists/whitney-houston/father-john-russell-houston-death-lawsuit/
• “Michael Houston”. (2022). Popular Networh. https://popularnetworth.com/michael-houston/#:~:text=Facts%20of%20Michael%20Houston%20Whitney%20Houston%E2%80%99s%20older%20brother,is%20known%20for%20being%20the%20all-time%20best-selling%20artist.
• “Gary Garland”. (2022). Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gary_Garland
• “Whitney Houston And Her Great Grandmother Look Eerily Similar To One Another”. (2021). Urban Music 2000. https://www.urbanmusic2000.com/whitney-houston-and-her-great-grandmother-look-eerily-similar-to-one-another/
• Kennedy, G. (2012). “‘The Houstons: On Our Own’ an uncomfortable, intrusive watch”. Los Angeles Times. https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/music/posts/la-et-ms-the-houstons-on-our-own-20121024-story.html
• “Family tree of Cissy Houston”. (2022). Geneastar.com. https://en.geneastar.org/genealogy/drinkarde/cissy-houston
• “Why Have So Many Of Clive Davis Music Artists Met With An Early And Tragic Demise”. (2021). The Judiciary Report. http://judiciaryreport.com/why_have_so_many_of_clive_davis_music_artist_met_with_an_early_and_tragic_demise.htm#:~:text=Clive%20Davis%2C%20founder%20of%20Arista%20Records%2C%20which%20later,Pilatus%20of%20Milli%20Vanilli%2C%20to%20name%20a%20few.
• “Whitney Houston interviewed by Diane Sawyer (Part 2 of 5)”. (2010). YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6xDcC7wNg0
• Margaritoff, M. (2022). “Inside Whitney Houston’s Death On The Eve Of Her Comeback — And The Tragic Downward Spiral That Preceded It”. All That Interesting. https://allthatsinteresting.com/whitney-houston-death
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• “Michael Jackson y Whitney Houston mantuvieron una relación muy especial”. (2020). Radio Televisión Española. https://www.rtve.es/television/20200625/michael-jackson-whitney-houston-amistad-romance-relacion/2022250.shtml
• Baker, N. (2020). “Bobbi Kristina Brown’s ex Nick Gordon dies ‘from drug overdose’ on New Year’s Day 5yrs after Whitney Houston’s daughter”. The Sun. https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/10654859/bobbi-kristina-brown-nick-gordon-dead-drugs-whitney-houston/
• Williams, B. (2021). “Robert De Niro Once Had a Major Crush on Whitney Houston, but the Feeling Wasn’t Mutual”. Showbiz Cheat Sheet. https://www.cheatsheet.com/entertainment/robert-de-niro-once-had-a-major-crush-on-whitney-houston.html/
• Bain, B. (2012). “Whitney Houston’s Acting Roles: A Look Back At Her Career In Hollywood”. Idolator. https://www.idolator.com/6780691/whitney-houston-acting-roles?edg-c=1
• “5 Whitney Houston 80s Outfits We Love…”. (2020). 80’s Fashion World. https://www.80sfashionworld.com/whitney-houston-outfits/
• “The Bodyguard”. (2022). IMDb. https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103855/fullcredits
• “Awards”. (2022). WhitneyHouston.com. https://www.whitneyhouston.com/awards/#:~:text=Awards%20Whitney%20Houston%20holds%20the%20Guinness%20World%20Record,6%20GRAMMY%20Awards%20and%2022%20American%20Music%20Awards.
• Listenbee, J. (2017). “Nippy: a retrospective”. The 97. https://the97.net/music/nippy-retrospective-remembering-whitney-houston/
• “Whitney – Full Documentary”. (2021). YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtFpKkTU2Nk
• “The Bodyguard”. (1992). HBO Max.
• “Whitney Houston – National Anthem (Star Spangled Banner)”. (2021). YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uAYKTMQl7MQ
• “Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Somebody – Official Music Video”. (2018). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynkaGd_zGwE
• “Whitney Houston, George Michael – If I Told You That (Official HD Video)”. (2009). YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EjfbyCpAxA
Stages of Whitney’s life and their risks
Picture #1: Whitney circa 1987.
This photo represents her rise to stardom (it’s the actual cover of her second album). It implied risks of isolation —as it would get harder and harder to reach her in her newly star status— and adulation —people would come closer to her and she wouldn’t know whether they were interested in her or in her success—.
Picture #2: Her wedding to Bobby Brown, July 1992.
This photo is from the day she got married to R&B artist Bobby Brown. The risks here were hard to foresee —although Eddie Murphy did try to warn her about she the mistake she was about to make—. She was getting tied up with a guy who later would become jealous of her success and made her life miserable.
Picture #3: The Bodyguard, released in November 1992.
This is the actual promotional billboard for the movie. It was her first major role in a Hollywood movie, so she was putting herself at the risk of being severely criticized by both the critics and the public. She was also taking a further risk: from then on, she was going to be recognized and listened to worldwide. Was she ready for that?
Picture #4: The fall.
This picture was taken in a time when she was spiralling down a hole, suffering from mental health problems and substance abuse disorder. She tried to go to rehab but had to leave the facility after seven months because she couldn’t pay for it anymore. She had to go out and perform, so she did. She went down the hole again, putting her life at risk. It ended up in the worst possible way, as we all know.
Razón: La profesora de Inglés II, Ruth A. Cotto, del Grado en Periodismo semipresencial solicita a su alumnado un análisis e interpretación de la vida y obra musical de la cantante Whitney Houston, entre otras posibilidades. Esta Actividad I consta de dos partes. En La primera parte, el alumno debe desarrollar un análisis exhaustivo sobre la vida y obra de Whitney Houston a través de una tabla de contenidos. En la segunda parte, el alumno deberá crear un Collage que represente cuatro momentos arriesgados en la vida de Whitney Houston a través de sus canciones.
Temática: En líneas generales, el trabajo aporta datos concretos y muy interesante de la vida de la cantante Whitney Houston. El dominio del nivel B-2 en lengua inglesa es evidente.
Alumnos: Dave Santos.
Asignatura: Inglés II.