The late Whitney Houston was one of the world’s greatest singers. With a vocal range like no other, Houston created chart-topping singles and heart-rending ballads. In addition to her pure music work, she made indelible contributions to films, leaving great audience memories with each new effort.
The documentary Whitney offers an unvarnished and at times troubling look at Houston’s life. Before that opens on July 6, let’s look back at the contributions Houston made to the world of film, both through her acting and the soundtracks that featured her voice.
This 1992 drama featured Houston in the lead role, as a music star who is attacked and pursued by a stalker. She plays opposite Kevin Costner, who plays the former Secret Service agent hired to be the bodyguard to Houston’s character after the attack. Released after Costner’s hit trio of Dances With Wolves, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and JFK, The Bodyguard quickly became a must-see. Houston’s first hit film was even later turned into a West End musical in 2012. In addition to using Houston’s signature songs from the movie, the musical also incorporates several of her other tunes, including “How Will I Know”.
‘I Will Always Love You’
The Bodyguard soundtrack was critically acclaimed and quickly became the best-selling soundtrack album of all time. Houston performed several songs on the album, and her cover of Dolly Parton’s ‘I Will Always Love You’ would go on to become Houston’s biggest hit. It spent 14 weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and remains the longest-running number one single from a soundtrack album. Moreover, Houston’s iteration of ‘I Will Always Love You’ is widely regarded as one of the greatest covers of all time.
‘I Have Nothing’
In addition to ‘I Will Always Love You’, Houston also released the single ‘I Have Nothing’ From The Bodyguard soundtrack. While it didn’t quite achieve the same level of success as its predecessor, it still performed incredibly well on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 4. To this day, ‘I Have Nothing’ is still recognized as one of Houston’s greatest hits.
Waiting To Exhale
Houston’s next big film came in 1995 when she starred opposite Angela Bassett in Forest Whitaker’s directorial feature film debut Waiting to Exhale. The story focused on a group of four women in Phoenix, Arizona, and explored their friendships, relationships with men, and search for long-term commitment.
Waiting to Exhale was, at the time, one of few dramas with an entirely African-American cast and a focus on women, their lives and loves. While critical notes were mixed, it was a massive box office success, opening at #1 in its first weekend. Discussions of a sequel took place off an on for many years, but after Houston’s death in 2012, a follow-up film seems unlikely.
The Preacher’s Wife
Houston starred in 1996 romantic comedy The Preacher’s Wife, which tells the story of an angel (Denzel Washington) who is sent to earth to help a minister (Courtney B. Vance) and his wife (Houston) to revive their marriage. The film was commended for being uplifting and sentimental. Houston won the Best Actress award at the Image awards for her performance.
‘When You Believe’
Houston teamed up with Mariah Carey to record ‘When You Believe’ in 1998, a song featured on the soundtrack for the Dreamworks Animation film The Prince Of Egypt. ‘When You Believe’ is featured in the animated film, sung by Michelle Pfeiffer and Sally Dworsky, but Carey and Houston recorded a separate version which is heard during the end credits. This version peaked at 15 on the Billboard Hot 100. It remains one of both artists’ most memorable tracks.
Houston was the executive producer and star for 2012’s Sparkle. The film is a remake of the 1976 film of the same name, and focuses on three singing teenagers in the late ’50s who end up forming a girl group. Houston played the strict mother figure, Emma Anderson. Sparkle would be Houston’s final film appearance, and as it was released posthumously, it was dedicated to her memory.
Whitney hits theaters on July 6th, 2018.