Whitney Houston had the voice of gold and the career to show it. Lifetime’s biopic will take us through the rise and plateau of Whitney, but we’re pretty sure that you won’t learn these mind-blowing facts about Whitney on television. You know, things like her getting the role of Sondra on The Cosby Show and being a teen model before her music career took off… that stuff!
Houston started working as a fashion model in the 1980s after a photographer saw her perform. She appeared in “Seventeen” and became one of the first women of color to be on the cover.
Her $10 million paycheck for her role in “The Preacher’s Wife,” made her one of Hollywood’s highest-paid actresses and the highest earning African-American actress in 1996.
Because she was a huge success after her “Moment of Truth” tour, she was crowned the highest-earning black woman and the third highest black entertainer, right after Bill Cosby and Eddie Murphy.
In August 2001, she signed the biggest record deal in music history, surpassing Mariah Carey’s record-breaking $80 million contract with Virgin Records. Her $100 million with Arista/BMG was for her to deliver six new albums.
Move over, Beyonce! Whitney was the most-awarded female artist of all time, with six Grammy Awards, 22 American Music Awards, two Emmy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, among a total of 415 career awards as of 2010.
Because she supported Nelson Mandela and anti-apartheid, Houston refused to work with companies who did business with apartheid South Africa.
She was the first woman to have four number one singles from one album. “Whitney” was certified 9 times Platinum in the United States and has sold a total of 20 million copies worldwide.
Houston sang background vocals on Chaka Khan‘s “I’m Every Woman” in 1978, a song she would later turn into an even bigger hit for herself on “The Bodyguard” soundtrack album in 1993.
Her mother made her turn down early record deal offers from in 1980 and 1981 because she wanted Houston to finish high school.
She was almost a Cosby kid. She auditioned for the role of Sondra and got the job, but she decided to turn it down so she could go on tour (even though she didn’t have a record deal at the time).
The “Waiting to Exhale” soundtrack was almost all Whitney. Babyface wanted her to record the who;e album, but Houston thought it should be an “album of women with vocal distinction.”
She’s the first woman in music history to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart, as well as the first artist to debut at number one in both the US and UK on the albums charts, all while hitting number one or top ten in dozens of other countries around the world.
“The Bodyguard” grossed more than $120 million in the U.S. and a whopping $410 million worldwide, making it one of the top 100 grossing films in film history at its time of release. (As of this publishing the movie is not longer in the top 100 due to inflation.)
Upon her passing, Clive Davis had this to say about Whitney:
“By now you have all learned of the unspeakably tragic news of our beloved Whitney’s passing. I don’t have to mask my emotion in front of a room full of so many dear friends. I am personally devastated by the loss of someone who has meant so much to me for so many years. Whitney was so full of life. She was so looking forward to tonight even though she wasn’t scheduled to perform. Whitney was a beautiful person and a talent beyond compare. She graced this stage with her regal presence and gave so many memorable performances here over the years. Simply put, Whitney would have wanted the music to go on and her family asked that we carry on.”