A Cat Person Who Dated Eddie Murphy and Loved to Vacuum: 10 Fun Facts About Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston was wildly funny, loved cats and had an otherworldly talent. Here's a host of little-known facts on the late, great superstar
Birds Literally Flocked to Her Voice
Once while on a romantic vacation in Antigua in the mid '80s, Houston's one-time boyfriend Brad Johnson woke to the sound of her voice wafting in from the balcony.
"I remember she was singing, skatting and humming and birds were coming and sitting in the trees," Johnson tells PEOPLE. "It was amazing to witness them responding to her. I just stood there in absolute silence."
She Didn't Practice, Not Even for the '91 Super Bowl National Anthem
"What you heard was the first take," says Houston's longtime music director Rickey Minor. He tells PEOPLE, "She literally was a one-take person. Whitney had something you can't teach. She was touched by an angel."
She Was a Cat Person
Whitney Houston loved cats and when she moved out of her parent's home and in with Robyn Crawford while starting her modeling career, she kept feline friends.
"She liked to sleep, she liked to party, she liked to hang out with Robyn and she liked her cats," former manager Steve Gittelman says in the film Whitney. "She had a cat named Misty Blue."
She Produced The Princess Diaries
Few recall that Whitney Houston was a force behind the camera as well, producing multiple hit kids and teen movies in the early '00s like The Princess Diaries.
"She had really good ideas," says longtime agent Nicole David of Houston, who was also instrumental in bringing The Cheetah Girls and TV's Cinderella starring Brandy to life.
She Loved to Vacuum
"She had this thing for vacuuming," says hairstylist and longtime pal Ellin LaVar. "She would get up and get the vacuum and start vacuuming her house. She loved to see the lines in the rug."
She Once Fell Hard For Eddie Murphy
We all had to watch Coming to America over and over again. I said, 'Nippy, I hate you, I hate Eddie Murphy and I hate Coming to America!'" says family friend and employee Ellen White. "I watched them once at a party, Eddie came in, cameras were flashing and they just looked at each other and talked and laughed like they were the only two people in the room."
She Knew How to Spot a Hit Record
Still the only artist ever to log seven consecutive No. 1 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, Houston not only had a talented voice, but a talented ear.
"Her voice was like no other, however I feel Whitney does not get enough credit for two remarkable traits," says Clive Davis who signed her to Arista Records back in '83. "She was wonderfully collaborative with a gift for interpreting music and hearing a hit. In a very tough business she had unprecedented and since-unequaled success."
While Recording The Bodyguard Soundtrack She Was "Laser-Focused"
"I remember I was getting her after she had worked for 10 hours on a movie set, and she would come in and we would be doing vocals at 9, 10 o'clock at night and she was a laser beam," says producer David Foster.
"She'd walk into the studio, rip off her coat, get up and say 'Let's go.' Like a racehorse, no warm up, no nothing."
She Was Extremely Funny and Had a Dark Sense of Humor
Says Minor, "She was silly and very fun-loving. She loved to pull pranks." Adds LaVar, "She had a dark sense of humor and could be very talkative."
She Was Much Simpler Than Her Diva Persona
"Whitney herself was very simple in her tastes and her desires," says Whitney director Kevin MacDonald. "She would have been content in a little house with a couch and a TV. That's all she needed."
Adds Minor, "She once said to me, 'I wish I could go back to the time I was singing just to sing and having fun.' "