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Exclusive: Inside Whitney Houston's Spectacular Rise, Fall

There are few people in the world of show business who have achieved Whitney Houston’s career heights. And there are few artists who have fallen so far.

She was one of the top recording artists in the history of popular music and a fine actress, which makes her sudden death at 48, after years of drug abuse, all the more tragic.

She hit her creative high point in 1992 with the phenomenal international No. 1 hit “I Will Always Love You.”

At her peak, she personified beauty and talent, and she was one of the most successful women ever to sing and act. She won countless awards, and amassed a vast fortune. Without a doubt, Whitney Houston had one of the most carefully plotted and planned music careers on record.

A Look Inside Whitney Houston’s Life

Editor’s Note: The news last month about pop diva Whitney Houston’s sudden death, has left us all with a desire to look deeper into her often glamorous and frequently controversial life. Celebrity biographer Mark Bego has delivered the first and the most definitive look at the famed singer’s entire life. Bego has been covering Whitney’s career since he was a writer for Cue magazine in 1978. He first spotted her when she was a teenager singing background in her mother’s cabaret act in Manhattan. He wrote the very first book about the singer in his 1986 bio “Whitney!. When he heard the news about Houston’s unhappy ending, he quickly gave his detailed research a new beginning and a dramatic new ending and turned it into: “WHITNEY HOUSTON! The Spectacular Rise and Tragic Fall of the Woman Whose Voice Inspired a Generation.”

She was literally born into the music business.

Her cousin is the incredibly successful pop icon, Dionne Warwick. Her mother, Cissy Houston, was the gifted lead singer of 1960s girl group “The Sweet Inspirations.”

She’s also sung backup for such legends as Aretha Franklin and Luther Vandross. Whitney’s own career was the carefully executed dream of music business magician Clive Davis. Yes, Whitney as a teenager had the looks and the pristine voice, but it was Davis who worked for two years finding the right songs and the right producers to show off her natural talent.

In 1992 Houston became a movie star, sharing the silver screen with Kevin Costner in the box-office hit “The Bodyguard.”

The soundtrack album featured Whitney’s all-time greatest hit, “I Will Always Love You,” which went on to sell an astonishing 34 million copies worldwide.

The soundtrack album for her second film, “Waiting to Exhale” became the singularly most nominated album in Grammy Award history. And, the soundtrack album for her third film, “The Preacher’s Wife,” at five million copies sold, became the biggest selling gospel album ever released.

Everything Houston touched, turned to million-selling Gold. She was the embodiment of a real life Cinderella.

Unfortunately there would be no story-book ending.

She hit bottom when she made a spectacle of herself during her interview with Diane Sawyer. But Mr. and Mrs. Brown were about to make even bigger fools of themselves.

In 2005 television audiences were shocked by Whitney’s most self-destructive project yet. She agreed to appear on the television reality show “Being Bobby Brown.” The very idea that Bobby Brown should end up the star of his own television program was astonishing in itself.

As it was, Being Bobby Brown was a slow-motion train wreck. It drew viewers merely for the “shock value” of watching its two stars self-destruct.

Bobby and Whitney did not disappoint. No shy butterfly, Whitney came across as being haughty, obnoxious, spoiled, crude and obviously “high” on something for the entire show.

Whitney was not about to let Bobby get all of the best quotes on the show. Often she told him, “Kiss my ass.” When asked to do something she did not want to do, she blasted back: “Hell to the ‘no!’”

It became the catchphrase of the whole series. For both of the Browns, it appeared that their individual musical careers were finished. They were both reduced to caricatures of themselves: both famous merely for being infamous, and lost within the confines of their own notorious fame.

Mark Bego’s latest book is “Whitney Houston! The Spectacular Rise and Tragic Fall of the Woman Whose Voice Inspired a Generation.” Bego has been covering Whitney’s career since he was a writer for Cue magazine in 1978. That is when he first spotted her when she was a teenager singing background in her mother’s cabaret act in Manhattan. Check out his Web site at: MarkBego.com

Unfortunately, Whitney, who had looked so beautiful and innocent in “The Bodyguard,” often came across as a jaded witch, or a screeching bird of prey. And the pair’s parenting skills seemed to parallel an alligator’s, a species notorious for devouring their young.

On one episode, Whitney is heard asking the camera crew, “What are we supposed to be doing here?” That was one of the most telling moments of the entire series.

What was she doing with Bobby Brown? What was she doing with her career? And, what was she doing with her life in general? At this point, even she seemed clueless.

Houston died suddenly on Feb. 11, on the eve of the Grammy Awards. Although a final determination as to cause is still pending, drugs and alcohol are widely believed to have played a role. She was in the midst of yet another comeback.

Excerpts for review purposes only © 2012 Mark Bego / Skyhorse Publishing in America, Plexus Books in England

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