Did Whitney Houston drown? Singer’s death shocks inner circle
BILL ZWECKER Columnistfirstname.lastname@example.org February 12, 2012 12:56PM
FILE - This Jan. 17, 2009 file photo shows singer Whitney Houston at the BET Honors in the Warner Theatre in Washington. Houston died Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012. She was 48. (AP Photo/Evan Agostini, File)
Updated: March 14, 2012 8:10AM
Whitney Houston’s death Saturday may have been caused by an accidental drowning — perhaps due to the superstar falling asleep in the bathtub of her Beverly Hilton Hotel room after taking a prescription medication to make her relax.
A hotel source told the Sun-Times early Sunday that Houston’s team — including her hairdresser, two bodyguards and her stylist — “were literally hysterical when they realized the singer was dead … as soon as they found her in the tub.”
According to the source, the bodyguard “kept saying over and over and over again, ‘I knew she was dead the second I saw her. I just knew it, I just knew it.’ ”
Despite that fact, TMZ reported Sunday the bodyguard attempted CPR and, when he didn’t get any response, a call was placed to both hotel security and 911.
While Houston’s long battle with addictions — ranging from cocaine to alcohol and more recently prescription drugs — was well known to both her inner circle and many in the music industry, her death came as a horrible shock to her immediate family.
“Bobbi Kristina [Houston’s daughter] was apoplectic when she arrived at the hotel. … and then she got really abusive when they wouldn’t let her in to see her mom’s body,” said the hotel source. “I can’t say I blame her. But the police were just following procedures.”
The hotel room was sealed until the Beverly Hills Police could finish a complete and thorough sweep of the premises that reportedly included the discovery of various potent medications including Lorazepam, Valium and Xanax.
According to a longtime friend of Whitney’s Grammy-winning gospel singer mother, “Cissy [Houston] absolutely could not stop screaming for about half an hour, after getting the news” of her daughter’s untimely death.
“For God’s sakes, she had only spoken to her about a half-hour before she went into that bathroom. … There was NOTHING that indicated Whitney was high or doing anything wrong. … They had a totally normal conversation about the Grammys, Clive [Davis’ pre-Grammy] party that night, what she was going to wear. Just normal, mother-daughter, casual chit-chat stuff.
“That’s what made the shock so much more intense for Cissy. I was afraid she was going to have a heart attack herself.”
According to other sources who spoke with Houston’s godmother, Aretha Franklin, and her cousin, Dionne Warwick (who also spoke to Houston earlier in the day), their reactions mirrored Cissy Houston’s.
“Both of them were so choked up. It was just heartbreaking,” said a longtime Franklin associate, who also is close to Warwick.
While Clive Davis did decide to proceed with his legendary party — always held the night before the Grammys — the famed music producing guru “was in a total daze the entire evening,” said a witness to the proceedings. “He barely could get through his remarks about Whitney. … He loved her like a daughter and had worked so hard these past few years to get her back on track and to remain clean and sober.”
A number of positive career moves had given reason for hope of a Houston comeback. She recently completed filming a role as the mother of “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks in a remake of “Sparkle,” a film loosely based on the Supremes. She also had been working hard to complete a new album.
Another guest at the Davis party Saturday, who asked not to be identified due to his close professional relationship with Davis, also said, “More than a few people … actually, a lot of people at the party were whispering about Bobby Brown — many blaming him for contributing to Whitney’s downfall.”