Whitney Houston, the multimillion-selling singer who emerged in the 1980s as one of her generation’s greatest R & B voices, only to deteriorate through years of cocaine use and an abusive marriage, died on Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif. She was 48.
Her death came as the music industry descended on Los Angeles for the annual celebration of the Grammy Awards, and Ms. Houston was — for all her difficulties over the years — one of its queens. She was staying at the Beverly Hilton hotel on Saturday to attend a pre-Grammy party being hosted by Clive Davis, the founder of Arista Records, who had been her pop mentor.
Ms. Houston was found in her room at 3:55 p.m., and paramedics spent close to 20 minutes trying to revive her, the authorities said. There was no immediate word on the cause of her death, but the authorities said there were no signs of foul play.
From the start of her career more than two decades ago, Ms. Houston had the talent, looks and pedigree of a pop superstar. She was the daughter of Cissy Houston, a gospel and pop singer who had backed up Aretha Franklin, and the cousin of Dionne Warwick. (Ms. Franklin is Ms. Houston’s godmother.)
Ms. Houston’s range spanned three octaves, and her voice was plush, vibrant and often spectacular. She could pour on the exuberant flourishes of gospel or peal a simple pop chorus; she could sing sweetly or unleash a sultry rasp.
Dressed in everything from formal gowns to T-shirts, she cultivated the image of a fun-loving but ardent good girl, the voice behind songs as perky as “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” and as torchy as what became her signature song, a version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.”
The complee New York Times obit here.
Roger Ebert on The Bodyguard:
The ads for "The Bodyguard" make it look like a romance, but actually it's a study of two lifestyles: of a pop music superstar whose fame and fortune depends on millions of fans, and of a professional bodyguard who makes his living by protecting her from those fans. The movie does contain a love story, but it's the kind of guarded passion that grows between two people who spend a lot of time keeping their priorities straight.
The star is Rachel Marron, played by Whitney Houston, and is as rich and famous as . . . Whitney Houston. The bodyguard is Frank Farmer (Kevin Costner), who got his training in the Secret Service and still blames himself for the fact that Ronald Reagan got shot, even though he had an excellent excuse for being away from work that day. Now Farmer hires himself out at $3,000 a week to guard celebrities, and is careful not to get involved.
Of course that's easy at the outset. He is hired by Marron's manager after the singer gets death threats. It's not love at first sight. The conventions of this genre require that the star and bodyguard have to get off on the wrong foot; she doesn't want him meddling with her lifestyle and freedom, and he doesn't have any respect for an uncooperative client.
Eventually the tension between them melts, and there is a sort of love affair, based mostly on mutual proximity (they never talk about much but their professional relationship, and the skills of his job). There's an odd, effective dating scene where she leaves her mansion to visit his cluttered, grim little apartment (and a peculiar moment with a samurai sword and a scarf that is undeniably erotic).
Meanwhile, Farmer gets to know some of the members of Rachel's retinue, including her son, her sister, her manager and her obnoxious press agent (Gary Kemp). These people are supported by Marron, and live with her on her terms, creating eddies of jealousy and palace intrigue. She is aware of her power, and tells Farmer she is essentially a nice person who is considered a bitch by a lot of people, and wishes that weren't so. Houston is effective at suggesting both sides of that personality.
The complete Review Here.
More on Whitney Houston here.
And in Salon.com here.