What really killed Whitney Houston?
Whitney Houston's death a few months ago came as a shock to most of us. Sure, she'd fallen off the pop-culture must-see/must-hear list, making news only for the strange and bizarre in her life instead of her talents but to a lot of fans there was hope she'd bounce back and be the star she had once been.
After reading Allison Samuels' expose in Newsweek and in The Daily Beast this week, it's a miracle she lived as long as she did and accomplished what she was able to before the lights went out in a Beverly Hills hotel room in February. "In many ways I'm surprised she lasted as long as she did," says a former assistant to the singer who didn't want to be identified due to a confidentiality contract she'd signed. "She was on a downhill road for a long time and her body just gave out. I know she was tired, very tired, from it all."
Even if you aren't a fan of Houston's, Samuels' piece is another cautionary tale about celebrity. Samuels writes that Houston may have been doomed from the start with two drug-addicted brothers whose bad habits she apparently picked up on her own. It wasn't Bobby Brown who sent her down the wrong road, say those closest to Houston, but the star-crossed relationship they had sure didn't help. As was the case with Michael Jackson, no one could intervene, not even family. Then came the professional pressures--trying to please different audiences, both white and black as well as advisor Clive Davis who kept her from experimenting musically, happy instead to keep her a hit-churning, money-gushing pop music industry. That, say those in the article, only fueled her appetite for escape and for drugs. Houston's relationship with her daughter, Samuels says, was less mother/child and more BFF, the two doing most of their bonding at nightclubs. And, what's even sadder, Samuels says the girl is also in need of drug intervention.
Stars are people, too, no matter how many hit records, box-office record movies, touchdowns, home runs or MVP awards. They're human and flawed and subject to the same foibles that bother we mere mortals. It's no longer a shock to find out that, in too many cases, they fall victim to their own appetites surrounded by yes-people too afraid to intervene. Maybe what's more surprising is the fact that we're shocked when the end arrives, and by the grisly details that often follow.
Like the part about Raffles Van Exel who was on the plane flight that brought Whitney Houston's body back home for the televised funeral. On board were people who you'd expect to be there, like her manager and sister-in-law as well as her cousin, Dionne Warwick. Van Exel weasled his way into that inner-circle via a candle business and wanted Houston to do a commercial for his enterprise. Death kept that from happening, but it didn't prevent Van Exel from snapping a picture of Houston in her casket, a photo he then sold to the National Enquirer for millions.