The Troubles of Three Iconic Beauties


Whitney HoustonWhile the world awaits the results of the investigation of Whitney 
Houston’s death last Saturday I am reminded of two other iconic
 beauties: Marilyn Monroe and Dorothy Dandridge.

Their commonalities are painfully tragic. All were extraordinarily gifted and attractive. Each of them combined singing 
and acting at one time or another in their fabulous careers; all had
 troubled marriages and to some extent endured either physical or 
mental abuse; and all sought relief through drugs and/or alcohol.
 And they all died relatively young somewhere near Hollywood. 
Monroe, who was the sex symbol of the fifties, died in Brentwood
 from an apparent overdose of barbiturates in 1962. She was 36.
 Three years later, Dandridge was found dead in her West Hollywood 
home reportedly from an accidental overdose of drugs. She was 42.
 Even if Houston’s death at 48 was not directly linked to drugs,
 she had a past history of drug addiction, so much so that she was in
 and out of rehab clinics trying to end the habitual usage of cocaine,
 marijuana and alcohol.

Why would three women, so gorgeous and talented, need to use
 drugs to chase away the demons? What insecurities, anxieties, and
 fears drove them to seek comfort or medication when they appeared to have the world on a string and with everything to live for? 
In Monroe’s case, it’s been said that she was really murdered,
and that her death was staged to make it appear it was suicide. That
 she had a known dependence on drugs might have motivated her killers,
 or perhaps, like Dandridge, she was merely doing what she always did
 when she felt uncertain about the future, unsure of her abilities, and 
fearing her fading beauty and success.

Sometimes the addiction for many performers, particularly women
 whose fame and celebrity is based in part on their looks, becomes an 
acquired necessity, something to bolster their confidence, to assure her adoring fans that everything is all right, or to quiet the nerves
 during a performance.

Or, the addiction takes control, as it did so often with the
 recently departed Etta James and most famously with the legendary
 Billie Holiday.

It is now being reported that Houston displayed “erratic
 behavior” during her final hours in public and had to be pulled away 
by her daughter. Those moments may have been the result of a 
psychotic episode or a recent bout with drugs. On that we can only 
speculate until the autopsy is completed.

But it is undeniably true, as it was for Monroe, Dandridge,
 James, and Holiday that Houston was a lovely diva with a peerless
 voice and her death, like the others she now joins, only provides her 
with an eternal immortality. Her brief stay among us guarantees that
 we “will always love her.”