Whitney Houston’s Death: Everything We Know About How She Died Ahead Of New Biopic

A decade after Whitney died in a Beverly Hilton Hotel bathtub, a new biopic, 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody,' explores the singer's life and death. Find out more on the latter, here.

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Whitney Houston
View gallery
Image Credit: Shutterstock

  • Whitney Houston died on the eve of her big comeback in 2012 at the age of 48, with the final cause of death being accidental drowning
  • Her death was contributed by the effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use, according to a statement from the coroner.
  • The late singer is immortalized in the new biopic ‘I Wanna Dance With Somebody’ starring newcomer Naomi Ackie

On the eve of what was to be her big comeback with a powerhouse performance at the 2012 Grammy Awards, Whitney Houston tragically died, leaving a legacy as one of the greatest vocalists ever to grace the stage. The iconic singer, famous for her moving ballads as well as her chart-busting pop tunes, was only 48 years old when she passed on February 11, 2012. Now a decade later, a biopic called I Wanna Dance with Somebody, starring newcomer Naomi Ackie as Whitney, is ready to tell the story of the famous diva, as it arrives at theaters just in time for the holidays. To see the British star capture Whitney’s essence, check out clips of the film on its official Instagram page. And even more teases are on Whitney’s own Instagram account.

Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston performs at a concert in Dublin, Ireland in 2010. (Shutterstock)

With a renewed spotlight on the “Greatest Love of All” singer’s triumphs and tragedies, HollywoodLife details everything to know about Whitney’s devastating death and the days that led up to it. Keep reading to learn more, below.

Whitney Allegedly Showed Up ‘Dripping Wet’ For Rehearsal

Two days before Whitney died, there was a rehearsal for Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy bash, where the “Greatest Love of All” singer was scheduled to perform. When she showed up to practice with the band early in the morning, her longtime musical director Rickey Minor noticed there was something off about her, especially since he knew her to sleep in late as a “night owl,” according to his interview with The New York Post. “So I never get to see her at 10:30 (am). And she was kind of wet, like dripping. And I said, ‘Where are you coming from?’ She says, ‘I’ve been swimming. I’m getting my lungs back. I’m getting back in shape.’” Rickey feared that she wasn’t telling the truth and was abusing drugs again, something she had battled for years.

She Was Reportedly ‘Not Sober’ When She Crashed A Brandy/Monica Interview

At the Clive Davis rehearsal, Whitney crashed an interview with singers Brandy and Monica. Gerrick Kennedy, author of the new book Didn’t We Almost Have It All: In Defense of Whitney Houston, recalled seeing Whitney in “lively spirits” when she talked to the young stars. “In the moment, it was just like, you know, she’s having a good time,” he told The New York Post. “She was there to see her little babies. But obviously, we now know that clearly she was not [sober].”

Where Did Whitney Houston Die?

Two days later on Feb. 11, Whitney was found unconscious in her bathtub in the Beverly Hilton Hotel just a few floors above where the Clive Davis pre-Grammy bash was going to take place. Medics were called and the singer was still unresponsive then they arrived. Whitney was pronounced dead shortly afterward.

How Did Whitney Houston Die?

Whitney Houston
Whiteny Houston attends the Swarovski Fashion Rocks For The Prince’s Trust 2007 gala in London. (Richard Young/Shutterstock)

No trauma of foul play was suspected in Whitney’s passing, as her final cause of death was accidental drowning, with the effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use contributing to it, according to a statement from the coroner. “Chances are, had she not had the pre-existing heart disease and cocaine use, she may not have drowned,” Los Angeles County Chief Coroner Investigator Craig Harvey explained in the statement. Harvey said there was evidence of chronic cocaine use and he suspected Whitney ingested the drug before she collapsed in the bathtub.

Did Whitney Houston Do Drugs?

While cocaine was believed to be used shortly before her death, Whitney had several other drugs in her system including marijuana, Xanax, Benadryl and Flexeril, according to toxicology reports. Despite those substances causing drowsiness, Harvey said they did not contribute to Whitney’s death.

Grammys Tribute To Whitney Houston

As the music world collectively mourned the loss of one of their greatest artists, there was talk of canceling the Grammy Awards. “But that wouldn’t have been the right thing to do,” longtime Grammy producer Ken Ehrlich told The Post. “So it was trying to find the blend between honoring her memory and then doing a Grammy show right.” The Grammys host, LL Cool J, stepped up and opened the night with a prayer for Whitney, while Jennifer Hudson was called last minute to perform a musical tribute. Although reluctant at first, according to Ehrlich, Hudson ultimately ended up singing “I Will Always Love You” to a teary-eyed audience.

Where Is Whitney Houston Buried?

Whitney was laid to rest on Feb. 18 in a private ceremony at Fairview Cemetery in her hometown of Westfield, New Jersey. She was buried next to her father, John Russell Houston, who was laid to rest there in 2003. At the four-hour service the day before, hundreds of friends and family gathered at the New Hope Baptist Church to pay tribute to the inimitable life lost too soon.

More From Our Partners