The untold truth of Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston had a squeaky-clean image at the beginning of her illustrious career, but in the later years of her life, the singer's troubles became increasingly apparent. Houston and ex-husband Bobby Brown's reality show, Being Bobby Brown (2005), tarnished her image, allegations of drug abuse followed her for nearly a decade, and her voice was damaged and only just recovering before her tragic death in February 2012, when she drowned in a bathtub after reportedly using a combination of illegal and prescription drugs. Those are just the issues you knew about. The untold truth of Houston's life paints an even sadder, darker picture of this legendary singer.
Her brother, not Bobby Brown, introduced her to drugs
Insiders claim Houston was a drug user long before she met Brown, and that her handlers and record label deliberately peddled the narrative that he corrupted the "good girl" and got her involved in dangerous habits.Meghan’s intense visit to ‘Killing House’
"It's a fairy tale," said Rudi Dolezal, director of the documentary Whitney: Can I Be Me (2017). Speaking to the New York Post in August 2017, Dolezal said, "The idea that Whitney was a great girl until Bobby came along is simply not true. Whitney took drugs and smoked weed a long time before she could even spell 'Bobby Brown.'"
Houston's longtime stylist, Ellin LaVar, says in the documentary (via the New York Post), "They [Whitney and her two brothers] did drugs. It was the thing you do. You go out, you party, you drink, you do a little drugs. Everybody did it. And her brothers gave it to her. It was just something you do to have fun."
In a 2013 sitdown with Oprah Winfrey, Houston's older brother, Michael Houston, confessed that he introduced the singer to cocaine. "I feel responsible for what I let go so far," he said on Oprah's Next Chapter. "We played together—everything that you do together as you're growing up—and then when you get into drugs, you do that together too, and it just got out of hand… We did everything together, so once I was into that, then she followed suit… You gotta understand, at the time, the '80s, it was acceptable… In the entertainment industry it was just like, available. It wasn't like a bad word like it is now. You know what I'm saying? We didn't know."Johnathon Schaech accuses director Franco Zeffirelli of sexual assault
She felt like she couldn't be herself
Sources told People that Whitney struggled with the pressures of fame and being forced into a role that didn't feel genuine.
"There were a lot of expectations in terms of who she was and who people thought she was," said a source close to the singer's family. "I think not being able to be herself 100 percent was a hell of a burden for her to have to carry. Someone may look good on the outside, sturdy and strong…[but] on the inside, you have someone who had insecurities and family issues and emotional personal issues and struggles."James Franco skips Critics' Choice Awards amid sexual misconduct allegations
The insider added that once Houston signed with Clive Davis, "[she] had to do what he said, wear what he said to, sing what he wanted her to sing and act like a goody two shoes when she was really a down and dirty girl from Jersey. Whitney definitely resented that."
A music industry source noted, "Clive made her into a mainstream pop star and allowed all of her wildest dreams to come true, but being this massive pop star came at a price. She had to act a certain way in front of the cameras for the label. That wasn't the real Whitney."
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A family friend told People that Whitney used drugs as a form of rebellion against her clean-cut image and the people who tried to control it. "[Drugs became] her rebellion against it all," the source said. "There has to be some outlet. For her, it became drugs." A music industry insider concurred that Whitney "did drugs to escape her pain."
Whitney's drug use eventually transitioned from recreational dabbling to addiction. "Things got worse and worse," a family source told the magazine. "Suddenly, when she was using, she had no idea who she was or who you were and she became angry and lashed out. We'd take turns checking on her in Atlanta when things were bad." The insider claimed enablers "allowed Whitney to do what she wanted to do" for fear of getting fired "if she felt you were not being cooperative on some level."
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In Brown's 2016 book, Every Little Step, he says he and Whitney "failed" daughter Bobbi Kristina and often used drugs in their little girl's presence.
"For some reason Whitney's drug use got worse after Bobbi Kris was born. Maybe it was because she had to stop using all those months while she was pregnant, but she resumed with a vengeance. I would try to keep Whitney locked in the room, telling her she shouldn't come in front of our daughter because of the way the drugs affected her. But I couldn't police Whitney; nobody could police Whitney. She did what she wanted," he wrote (via People).
"Our daughter was growing up in the middle of all of this," he wrote. "She often saw her mother and father high, and was around the two of us when we were f**ked up. We tried to keep it away from her, but it was hard for us to see her only when we were sober. How much quality time can you spend with your daughter when you're high all the time? I would get really mad at Whitney, scream and yell that I wanted a divorce. This went on for years and years. Our daughter saw it all. When I think about it now, I just feel enormous pain. We failed her."Real Housewives star Kyle Richards victim of home burglary
She may have been bisexual
Rumors swirled for years that despite Whitney's marriage to Brown, she was also in a relationship with her longtime assistant and close friend Robyn Crawford. Whitney and her mother, Cissy, denied the claims, but Brown alleges Whitney was bisexual in Every Little Step. "I know [about the rumors], he told Us Weekly. "We were married for 14 years. There are some things we talked about that were personal to us."
"Robyn and Whitney were like twins. They were inseparable," says Kevin Ammons, a member of her security detail, in Whitney: Can I Be Me (via People). "They had a bond and Bobby Brown could never remove Robyn. He wanted to be the man in the relationship." Whitney's former bodyguard, David Roberts, says, "Bobby Brown and Robyn Crawford were like fire and ice. They hated each other. They'd battle for her affections. Bobby and Robyn had some physical altercations and there were times where he wasn't always the winner. But then Whitney would always come and pour oil over troubled waters." The New York Post reported that Whitney gifted Crawford a Porsche on the day of her wedding to Brown in 1992.The Zombies bassist Jim Rodford dead at 76
Stylist LaVar says in the film, "I don't think she was gay, I think she was bisexual… Robyn provided a safe place for her…in that Whitney found safety and solace."
Some may have tried to extort her
In the 2016 book Whitney & Bobbi Kristina: The Deadly Price of Fame (via the New York Post), author Ian Halperin claims Whitney was targeted by a Chicago lawyer who tried to extort her. On the eve of the Bodyguard film debut in 1992, the attorney allegedly demanded $250,000 from the songbird or he'd go public with "intimate details" about her love life. Whitney's father, John, reportedly "settled the matter by sending a confidentiality agreement almost immediately… [it was] unclear how much money was paid to silence the person and whether he met the initial demand for $250,000."Celebs whose deaths remain mysterious
Her family didn't accept her relationship with Robyn
Former bodyguard Ammons claims Whitney's father, John, did not approve of her alleged relationship with Crawford. According to Whitney & Bobbi Kristina: The Deadly Price of Fame (via the New York Post), Ammons says John told him about Crawford and allegedly said, "We've got to do something about that motherf**king b***h. She's ruining my family and driving everybody nuts. She's lost her grip on reality. I'll pay you $6,000 if you put the fear of God in her." Ammons says he refused, and John then allegedly "warned the bodyguards to 'keep an eye' on Robyn."
Whitney's mother, Cissy, told Oprah Winfrey she would "absolutely" be unhappy if Whitney had been in a relationship with a woman. "I don't really know [if they were in a gay relationship]. I didn't particularly like her… She was disrespectful sometimes, like she had something over Nippy… She turned out to be alright, I guess… They were very good friends."Selena Gomez unfollows Demi Lovato and more in shocking Instagram move
Brown claimed that the family's scorn crushed Whitney. "I really feel that if Robyn was accepted into Whitney's life, Whitney would still be alive today," he told Us Weekly. "She didn't have close friends with her anymore."
In 1999, Crawford reportedly left the singer for good. In Whitney: Can I Be Me (2017) (via People), stylist LaVar says Crawford's exit "was the beginning of [Whitney's] downfall."
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Though in subsequent interviews Brown has adamantly denied ever striking Whitney, he admitted in his book, Every Little Step (via E! News) that he did, at one time, hit her because she was allegedly doing drugs while he was trying to get clean. "I did [strike Whitney]," he wrote. "Me at the time, trying to maintain a sobriety and the person that's in your relationship is not going along with it—it was rough."
She may have cheated on Brown
In Brown's book, Every Little Step (via People), the former New Edition singer accuses Whitney of having more than one affair during their relationship and marriage, and he uses those allegations to justify his own infidelity.Darren Criss engaged to longtime girlfriend Mia Swier
"In fact, she cheated before I did," he wrote. "She slept with quite a few of the producers and artists that she worked with or associated with [over] the years. I won't drop any names here because they're still around and a few view me as a friend. When I found out about the first one, I was blown away. I thought, 'Okay, okay, you gonna play me like that? I'm not that type of dude, but if you can do it, I can do it too.'"
Brown claims she faked a miscarriage
According to the New York Daily News, Whitney had three miscarriages the public knew about—one before and two after the birth of her only child, Bobbi Kristina. Keeping that in mind, Brown's accusation that Whitney faked a miscarriage while filming The Bodyguard in order to have a public reason to marry the alleged bad boy should be taken with a huge grain of salt.Prince Harry broke Royal protocol with Meghan Markle
"As soon as I arrived, I started to get suspicious. I'm no medical doctor, but she was not acting like a woman who was in the throes of mourning a lost baby. As a matter of fact she was back to filming just a couple days after it had happened," he wrote in Every Little Step (via People). "I never saw any evidence of her pregnancy or her miscarriage, so I started to think the entire story was a ruse created by her PR team. When I confronted her about it, she was insistent. 'Bobby! Yes, I was pregnant!' she said. But I didn't believe her. To this day, I believe her pregnancy was a story that was concocted by her people to explain to the public why she would marry Bobby Brown."
Brown's sister sold her out
During one of Whitney's darkest periods, her own sister-in-law, Tina Brown, reportedly sold her out to the tabloids. According to Vanity Fair, Tina was allegedly addicted to crack cocaine and sold a story titled "Inside Whitney's Drug Den" to the National Enquirer. In the story, Tina claims Whitney saw "demons" when she was high and believed the demons beat her up until she was black and blue; Tina believes Whitney inflicted the injuries upon herself.Takei’s explicit Howard Stern interview
Madonna dissed her
Madonna didn't mince words when it came to Whitney, one of her biggest Billboard chart rivals. Madge even described the "I Will Always Love You" singer as "horribly mediocre" in a letter to a friend (via Page Six) in the early '90s. "Madonna allegedly wrote that she was tired of being compared to Whitney and would "rather die" than be like her.
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Don't believe the rumors about Whitney and Mimi
Though the press portrayed a deep rivalry between Whitney and fellow vocal powerhouse Mariah Carey, Mimi denied that they disliked each other and said they became good friends. The duo even mocked their alleged feud at the 1998 MTV Video Music Awards.
"I loved Whitney Houston, and I will always respect her as one of the greatest singers ever," Carey told Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. "I think that in the beginning, there was a comparison that was made because it was easy for the record company to do that. That's what record companies do. I believe that sometimes they do this without thinking about the artists and what it's really going to do. So it took a while for the two of us to actually have a relationship where we were friends, but once we became friends, we always had the best time together.Dustin Hoffman accused of sexual assault, exposing himself to minor
Carey added, "We did this duet for The Prince of Egypt (1998), "When You Believe," and I perform it on tour when I go overseas with pictures of Whitney and us together… I'm just grateful for her foundation to allow it, and her family."
She had an unusual relationship with Ray J
The Daily Beast reported that Whitney had a casual, ongoing fling with singer Ray J, of Kim Kardashian Superstar (2007) fame, following her divorce from Brown. They reportedly went way back, having met when Whitney starred in Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella (1997) with his big sister, Brandy. While some insiders claimed Whitney and Ray J genuinely loved one another, others believed he was using Whitney in hopes of landing a reality show with her.Meghan’s sister slams wedding rumour
During an episode of Celebrity Big Brother, Ray J even tells singer Stacy Francis that he blames himself for Whitney's death. "Stacy and I, we had a conversation about what happened with Whitney Houston before she passed," he says in a confessional (via VH1). "I never talk about it but it was something I felt she wanted to talk about and it was the right time so we talked briefly about it and I told them how I felt, how I blame myself on a lot of stuff… I had so many people calling me offering millions of dollars to have an interview; I was like, 'I don't need the money, it's not good money.' That's just not right. My karma would be bad. Nobody can explain, it's all my fault. All of that that happened. It's all my fault."
She had close ties to an alleged con artist when she died
Raffles Van Exel, a self-described "entertainment consultant," was reportedly close to Whitney at the time of her death. He told the Mirror that he found Whitney's body, and he told a Dutch newspaper (via the Daily Mail) that he "emptied" her hotel room, though he didn't say what he removed. Sources told TMZ that a person(s) may have removed evidence from the room before authorities arrived. One insider claimed that the same person who allegedly removed cocaine from Whitney's hotel room is the same person who supplied it to her.James Franco responds to recent sexual misconduct allegations
Van Exel vehemently denied any connection to those claims, telling the Mirror, "The only thing I did was help Whitney's family take all her belongings out of the hotel room after the police had given us permission to clear it. I did not 'clean' the room and I never said I did."
Someone close to her sold her out after she died
After Whitney's untimely death, someone at her viewing sold a photo of her in her casket to the National Enquirer, sending her family and friends, as well as the funeral home where she was laid to rest, into a tizzy trying to figure out who would do something so foul.Report: Blac Chyna sues Kardashian-Jenner family
Tragically, when Whitney and Bobby's daughter died in 2015, someone also sold a photo of Bobbi Kristina in her casket to the same tabloid for what was rumored to be more than $100,000. The Houston and Brown families have reportedly feuded with one another and exchanged blame trying to determine who would stoop to such a level.