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The death of Whitney Houston has sparked a media frenzy — not surprising, given her legendary status — and redirected the spotlight on her troubled life, including a tumultuous marriage to Bobby Brown.
Houston’s past drug abuse and erratic behavior, most recently witnessed in the days before her death when she clashed with reality star Stacy Francis at a pre-Grammy party, frequently eclipsed her career accomplishments. Her voice, once the best in the business, had become hoarse and strained.
Still, she commanded enduring respect from mentor-father figure Clive Davis and star singers including Mariah Carey and Jennifer Hudson, who paid tribute to Houston with a moving rendition of “I Will Always Love You” on Sunday’s Grammy Awards.
PHOTOS: Iconic Singer Whitney Houston’s Life and Career in Pictures
Houston, 48, died the day before the ceremony at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles. Her body was found slumped in a bathtub on the fourth floor of the hotel, and when emergency medics arrived, it was too late: she could not be revived, and was declared dead half an hour after 911 was called.
Here are 10 significant developments surrounding the loss of a legend:
1. Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, gets rushed to the hospital a day after the singer’s death.
On Sunday, an ambulance arrived to the Beverly Hilton to bring the distraught 18-year-old to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she was treated for stress and anxiety. She was released hours later. Brown is the only daughter of Houston and her ex-husband, Bobby Brown, who left his New Edition concert tour to be by her side in L.A.
2. The coroner’s office completes an autopsy, but withholds an announcement on the results pending a toxicology report.
Police ruled out foul play. Meanwhile, a flurry of breathless reports on the possible cause of death continue to pour in, with outlets like TMZ suggesting it was a lethal combination of prescription medication and alcohol. The site reported that multiple bottles of medication were found at the scene containing a small amount of pills including the anti-depressant Xanax, ibuprofen and amoxicillin for a sore throat.
VIDEO: Reactions To Houston’s Death
3. The Beverly Hills Police Department reveals that a member of Houston’s staff discovered her “underwater and apparently unconscious” in her hotel room bathtub.
In a press conference on Monday, Lt. Mark Rosen of the BHPD said Houston was “pulled out” of the bathtub prior to the arrival of the security guards and medics. “We are not conducting a homicide investigation at this time,” he told reporters. “We are conducting a death investigation. It’s a normal investigation for somebody of her age that would have died in this manner.”
4. Houston’s music dominates iTunes charts.
Within hours after her passing, the pop diva’s 2000 album, Whitney: The Greatest Hits, skyrocketed to No. 2 for several hours before surpassing Adele‘s Grammy-sweeping 21 for the top spot the night before the Grammys. In addition, the soundtrack to her 1992 smash The Bodyguard, which sat atop Billboard album chart for 20 weeks straight, catapulted to the top 10. By Sunday, a whopping 43 of the top 100 most-downloaded songs on iTunes were Houston hits, including “I Will Always Love You” (from The Bodyguard), “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” and “Greatest Love of All.”
5. Houston is remembered with a slew of specials on cable and broadcast TV.
Among the networks’ Houston-centric programming: a VH1 news special, Whitney Houston: Death of a Diva, that aired Monday, along with Lifetime’s re-broadcasting of her 1992 hit The Bodyguard; E! News’ Whitney Houston: Last Days of a Legend, slated to air Wednesday with interviews from those at the Beverly Hilton at the time of her death as well as those who encountered the star in her final days; an ABC News’ 20/20 report slated for Friday entitled One Moment in Time: The Life of Whitney Houston. Last, but never least, Oprah Winfrey‘s OWN will re-air on Thursday the media mogul’s 2009 interview with Houston, wherein she admitted to using both cocaine and marijuana while married to Brown.
VIDEO: Jon Stewart Slams CNN’s Coverage of Houston’s Death
6. Sony Pictures says it’s releasing Houston’s final film, Sparkle, in August.
The superstar portrays the mother of a trio of Supremes-like singers in the movie, which co-stars American Idol alum Jordin Sparks. “This would have been a big, big comeback, she is so brilliant in it,” Howard Rosenman, who is an executive producer on the new film, said of Houston’s performance, adding: “I was just raving about her performance, she was so great in it. I’m just in shock.”
7. A sequel to Waiting to Exhale continues without its biggest star.
Fox 2000 Pictures is still going forward with a followup to the hit 1995 drama co-starring Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine and Gregory Hines. Forest Whitaker will return as director, no doubt with a heavy heart. “We literally have not talked about anybody for that part,” Fox 2000 president Elizabeth Gabler told the entertainment website Vulture. “Forest, I know, is just … grieving. He’d been the one who was speaking with her, updating (Houston) on its progress.”
8. Houston’s body is flown to her hometown of Newark, N.J., via Tyler Perry’s private jet.
Her casket arrived late Monday night at Teterboro Airport, accompanied by cousin Dionne Warwick. Houston’s mother, Cissy Houston, was on hand to retrieve it and a cavalcade including three police cars — and a gold-colored hearse — carried the singer to the Whigham Funeral Home, which is handling the services. Initial reports carried word that she would be honored on Friday at Newark’s 19,000-seat Prudential Center, but the family released a statement to the contrary.
9. A private, invite-only funeral is set for Saturday.
A Houston family spokesperson said the venue will be Newark’s New Hope Baptist Church — not the Prudential arena — with doors open only to invited guests, Reuters reported. Meanwhile, Carolyn Whigham — funeral director of the Whigham Funeral Home — said there would be “nothing for the public,” including a public viewing. “It was the family’s decision,” Whigham said. “They have shared her for 30-some years with the city, with the state, with the world. This is their time now for their farewell to their daughter, mother.”
10. The director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy calls Houston’s death a “teachable moment.” In an interview with CBS News, Gil Kerlikowske said he hopes the Houston tragedy serves as a reminder that prescription drugs are as addictive and as fatal as any other drug. “(It) also tells you that the drug problem crosses almost every demographic and economic barrier,” he observed. “So, we can use this as a moment to help people understand, remember there are literally millions of Americans who are struggling with this problem, either themselves or a close family member. So, we can use this as a chance to move forward.”
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