Whitney Houston Tribute | News & Features | Cinema Online

Whitney Houston Tribute

Writer: Mitchell Wong

The world would miss her high-powered vocals and her undying beauty.

Whitney Houston (August 9, 1963 – February 11, 2012) made waves not only where her vocals were concerned, but also in the movies she starred in her brief filmography which featured a medley of stories and songs serving as her trademark power-house combo. When she made her debut with alongside Kevin Costner in "The Bodyguard", she also delivered her most popular song as the movie's soundtrack, "I Will Always Love You". Her last posthumous effort "Sparkle", would see Houston once again, after 15 years, in August 2012 lend her voice and talent in a movie. For now as a tribute, let us look back at her memorable film credits.

29-year-old Whitney as Rachel Marron, starring alongside Kevin Costner in 1992 "The Bodyguard"

1. The Bodyguard (1992)
"But I can't go out on a date because you have to be with me every minute. I mean, what if he wants to invite me up to his place afterwards? Are you gonna come too?"

29-year-old Whitney got her taste of the big screen in 1992 when she starred with Kevin Costner in "The Bodyguard", which is probably her most memorable performance ever. The story follows Whitney's music-star character who's under protection from hired former Secret Service Agent turned bodyguard, played by Costner – as she is being stalked by an anonymous figure who has been sending her death-threats. The movie was originally planned for Steve McQueen and Diana Ross in the 70's, but never did materialise. Audiences weren't complaining though as the film went on to earn US$ 410 million worldwide. The film's soundtrack also enjoyed big success as it featured 6 songs that were executive produced and performed by Whitney herself.

Whitney with co-stars Angela Bassett, Lela Rochon, and Loretta Devine in "Waiting to Exhale"

2. Waiting To Exhale (1995)
"A long time ago, I asked God to send me a decent man. I got Robert, Cedric, Darrell and Kenneth. God's got some serious explaining to do."

This Forest Whitaker-directed romantic film, "Waiting To Exhale", is about four women who are best of friends, living in Phoenix, Arizona. The story centres around their relationship with men and each other, with everyone one of them looking for their Mr. Right to settle down with. Whitney's character, Savannah Jackson is a successful television producer who is with a married man with hopes that he will leave his wife for her. Although the film was less popular than "The Bodyguard", it was well-known for having an All-African American cast which at that time was considered a 'social phenomenon'. Apart from acting, Whitney also contributed to the soundtrack which included the number-one hit, "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)". Songs by other artistes such as "Not Gon' Cry" by Mary J. Blige, "Sittin' Up In My Room" by Brandy, and "Count On Me" by Whitney Houston and CeCe Winans, all reached the top ten of Billboard's Hot 100 chart propelling the movie to further success.

In "The Preacher's Wife", Whitney stars alongside Hollywood actor Denzel Washington as his wife.

3. The Preacher's Wife (1996)
"Your mother would always tell me, "Girl, you need to get some meat on those bones. Henry ain't got nothing to grab on to back there!""

Houston's character, Julia Biggs is the wife of a good natured reverend named Henry Biggs (Courtney B. Vance) who is faced with issues in their marriage with him not being around often enough. To add salt-to-the-wound, property developer Joe Hamilton (Gregory Hines) is after the plot of land on which Henry's church stands. Henry turns to God for help and it comes in a form of an angel named Dudley (Denzel Washington) who makes matters worse. The movie was nominated for the Academy Awards for Best Music, Original Musical or Comedy Score. Thanks to Houston's vocal chops as well as her popularity, the soundtrack for the movie was, and still is the best-selling Gospel album of all time.

Walt Disney Television's "Cinderella" presents Whitney with Hollywood star Brandy.

4. Cinderella (1997)
"You didn't need my help. You just thought you did. Believe in yourself, Cinderella, and trust him to love you as you really are."

In 1997, Walt Disney Television presented a musical telefilm production of Cinderella, starring Houston as the fairy godmother and Hollywood actress/model Brandy as Cinderella. The fairy godmother explains that nothing is impossible in the magical realm. Initially Whitney herself was listed as the role of Cinderella, however she then gave the role to Brandy saying that "I'm already 33-years-old, and I want you to play Cinderella." Brandy then agreed to the part provided that Houston who was her real-life idol, to play her fairy godmother. As usual, Houston also lent her voice to the film's soundtrack singing a total of 5 tracks including the title track "There's Music In You".

American idol winner Jordin Sparks stars in Sparkle, alongside Whitney Houston.

5. Sparkle (2012)
"You watch your mouth. Now, go get your homework before I give you a sign in a place you won't forget.""
Following a 15 year hiatus, Whitney makes her comeback with "Sparkle", but sadly whether the movie will be a bust like Mariah Carey's "Glitter" or a hit like Madonna's "Evita", Houston will not be able to see to reap her sow. For "Sparkle", director Salim Akil has created a film inspired by 1976's "The Supremes". "Sparkle" is about three sisters of the Williams family (played by Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo and Tika Sumpter) who are singers at their local church choir, who then eventually use their spectacular vocal talents, with the help of their mother (Houston) to create one of the most recognised girl groups in the world, "The Supremes". The movie marks Houston's sixth and final film role and will be released posthumously in August 2012.

Cinema Online, 13 February 2012