Home Celebrity Cissy Houston Tells The Truth, Harshly, About Whitney, Bobby, Drugs

Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Cissy Houston and her son Michael was much harsher than I expected. Cissy, never a cream puff, told the unvarnished truth to Oprah. I expect she does in her book, which is out this morning. Cissy says she did not write “Remembering Whitney” for the money, and I believe her now. She suffered through two decades of her daughter’s drug addiction, was terrified always of losing her permanently. I think the Oprah interview–and the book– represents her ability finally to speak and explain what happened.

She didn’t pull punches with Oprah. She says Bobby Brown spat on Whitney. She says she didn’t like Robyn Crawford and that she would not have approved of Whitney having a gay relationship. Cissy admits to having a strained relationship with Bobbi Kristina, didn’t seem too thrilled about her daughter in law, Pat, and says she has not spoken to Bobby Brown in the year since Whitney died. I’ve known Cissy a long time. I always respected her even if I didn’t understand what was going on with Whitney. Cissy is steely. And you know, she even tells Oprah that she didn’t like Winfrey’s interview in March 2012 with Pat, Gary and Bobbi Kristina. “It was too soon,” Cissy says. She’s right.

Whitney’s brother Michael has taken her death hard. He is now blaming himself for introducing Whitney to drugs long before Bobby Brown came along. You cannot help but feel sorry for him. Michael and his wife Donna, despite the drugs, were always there for Whitney. But it’s true, both of her brothers had drug problems. Cissy was in over her head trying to stop it, and she had no help from her ex husband John Houston.

Oprah was much better with this material than she was with Lance Armstrong. She knew what she was dealing with this time, although Cissy got the best of her. When her kids were babies, Cissy spent most of her time on the road touring with her group, The Sweet Inspirations. They were Aretha Franklin’s back up singers. The Sweet Inspirations had a couple of their own hits. But when I asked John and Cissy about it all back in 1989, it was clear they had had a tough haul. Whitney’s success bailed them out financially, but it created new problems. That was clear. Whitney, even then, was angry with her father for cheating on Cissy and then leaving.  The wounds, in 1989, were very open. And this was just as Whitney was releasing her third album.

So unlike, say, Katherine Jackson, Cissy Houston seems like she’s going to give us the straight story, like it or not. More on the book later today. And one PS: Robyn Crawford was a brash young woman, that’s for sure. But she’s one of the best people I’ve known along the years. She was a great great friend to Whitney. She lives quietly outside the spotlight now. And she’s still mourning Whitney even though she has a happy family life.

4 replies to this post
  1. It’s good to hear from someone who knows the family. I am fascinated by Whitney’s life. As Bobby said, “She worked hard, played hard, lived hard and loved hard.” She had several lifetimes in one. My impression is of fierce love and fierce honesty; traits shared by both Cissy and Whitney. I admire them so much for this, as so few people are so honest and direct, and certainly not in public.

    I’ve been worried about Michael and am glad to see him talk in public. If he reads this, I want him to know he shouldn’t beat himself up about the drugs. If he hadn’t given Whitney her first hit, she would’ve gotten it from somewhere else. He did not get her hooked on drugs. Addiction takes time. I was marginally involved in the music scene in the 70s and, yes, coke was everywhere. I tried crack once and didn’t like it and never did it again. Michael, please be strong for everyone. Your family needs you and Whitney’s fans love you because Whitney loved you. You are a wonderful family that has given so much. My thoughts are with you.

  2. In retrospect parents may have regrets about how busy work schedules and careers caused them to miss significant details in their children’s lives resulting in hurt and guilt. Cissy loved Whitney yet those years on the road and leaving her little girl under the watch of older brothers left a door open for mistakes. RIP Nippy

  3. You mention Katherine Jackson in passing and compare her to Cissy Houston. But the story of the Michael Jackson (and his whole family) is much more contradictory and convoluted that that of Whitney Houston, so there is really no “straight story” to tell, and I think Katherine neither knows nor understands all of it. In spite of the harsh way he was treated by his father, he (obviously to relieve her of guilt) told his mother he didn’t “want it any other way”, which was extremely generous of him. I wish Bobbi Kristina everything good, and she will sort herself out, but if you compare her situation to Michel’s kids’, it will appear he left them with both a better deal financially and a better psychological foundation for a sensible life.

What do you think?