Troubled pop/R&B superstar Whitney Houston died Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles, hours before a pre-Grammy party hosted by Clive Davis. Houston, 48, was pronounced dead at around 3:55 p.m. that day at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills.
Her death sent the music industry reeling in shock -- sorta -- for hours and hours. Radio stations around the country were playing blocks of her pop hits and social media was clogged with updates relating to her life and career. Mostly centered on her drug use. We all mourned the loss of Houston, while also remembering that this seemed to be a long time coming, sadly. Years of erratic behavior and run-ins with the law left the public with little doubt that she was a drug addict.
With her early demise, we lose lots of things, namely the chance for her to redeem herself through her film and music projects. It would have been amazing to see her channel her drug struggles into a dramatic role, and apparently the upcoming Sparkle could have been that chance.
Here's a quick overview of Houston's short but sweet cinematic career, from the blockbuster brawn of The Bodyguard to the charming-as-heck The Preacher's Wife.
An angel named Dudley, played by a charming Denzel Washington -- sans guns -- arrives on the scene at a church, led by Courtney B. Vance and his wife, played by Houston. Dudley's job is to turn the spirits of the church around, but things go awry. This film was a schmaltzy holiday hit in late 1996, and the soundtrack sold well, loaded with Houston's gospel cuts.
Men are pigs in the adaptation of the Terry McMillan best-seller. Houston plays TV producer Savannah Jackson, alongside a who's who cast of great female African-American actors and actresses. The film was a hit with everyone, buoyed by strong source material and the star power involved. The Babyface-produced soundtrack scored a home run, with Houston's single "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)," Mary J. Blige's "Not Gon' Cry" and Brandy's "Sittin' Up in My Room" helping it sell almost seven million copies. A sequel was in the very early stages of development, but now that may not be possible.
Houston's first acting foray, and the film that more or less made Houston a household name all over again, also cemented Kevin Costner's sex symbol status in the process. Steve McQueen and Diana Ross were intended to be the original stars of the picture, as producer Lawrence Kasdan had been plugging away at the film since the '70s. The soundtrack has sold more than 45 million units, and Houston's version of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You" will more than likely be written on her pop-culture epitaph. A remake with Rihanna was bandied about until the singer backed out.
Brandy and Houston teamed up for the television version of the oft-spun fairy tale, made at the height of Brandy's popularity. You can catch this cute one on cable here and there, and it has a great cast of triple threats, but that's sort of it. Houston sings five songs on the soundtrack.
This as-yet-unreleased flick about how "three sisters form a successful singing group and must deal with the fallout of fame and drugs" would prove to be Houston's last cinematic venture. Directed by Salim Akil of Jumping the Broom fame, this one is due to hit theaters now over the summer.
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