The daughter of Cissy Houston and a cousin of Dionne Warwick, singer Whitney Houston burst on the music scene with her inaugural album in 1985, becoming the first woman performer to debut at the number one slot in the Billboard charts. Houston could have remained merely a fabulously successful songstress, but in 1992 she decided to make her film debut in The Bodyguard. Playing an ill-tempered rock star, Houston was paired with Kevin Costner, who portrayed an ex-cop hired to protect her from a stalking fan. Written years earlier by Lawrence Kasdan as a vehicle for Steve McQueen, The Bodyguard made a pile at the box office, providing Whitney Houston with yet another vocal hit: a new version of the Dolly Parton standard "I Will Always Love You", which became the biggest-selling single in the history of pop music. Houston was married to oft-arrested funk singer Bobby Brown from 1992-2007, with whom she had a daughter, Bobbi.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Nicknamed Nippy by her parents; later used that as the name of her management company.
- Began singing in her mother's church choir at 11 years old.
- Landed gigs as a backup vocalist for Chaka Khan and Lou Rawls in 1978.
- Worked as a model in the early 1980s, gracing the covers of Glamour and Seventeen magazines.
- Appeared on the sitcoms Gimme a Break! (1984) and Silver Spoons (1985).
- Broke a U.S. chart record in 1988 with seven consecutive No. 1 hits, beating the previous record of six by the Beatles and the Bee Gees.
- Formed the Whitney Houston Foundation for Children in 1989, which gives annual grants for deserving minorities to attend New York City's Juilliard School of Music.
- Received an honorary doctorate from Grambling University.
- Accidentally drowned on the eve of the 54th Grammy Awards in the bathtub in her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where she was preparing to appear at mentor Clive Davis' pre-Grammy party.