Whitney must have felt like she'd stepped onto a rocket to the top in December 1986, after her 1985 debut CD won the 1986 Grammy for Best Pop Vocal Performance. Seen here on a set at MTV with her gospel and R&B star mom.
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The singer's life glowed brightest in the spotlight, as she shows here onstage for a London concert at the height of her early hit-making power in 1988.
Before her singing talent was discovered, the beautiful young Houston was a model. The first cover she landed was the Seventeen magazine November 1981 issue when she was 18 years old.
Radiant at Radio City Music Hall in 1986, the singer arrives for a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Only a special talent could score a hit with a version of the National Anthem, which Whit did courtesy of her Star Spangled Super Bowl appearance in 1991.
Universally praised for her stellar star turn in 1992's The Bodyguard, Whitney proved as potent in the movie business as she was in the music business.
Was her fashion sense bold or borderline crazy? Whatever the case, it was always a joyous adventure to see Whit on the red carpet like this eruption of color at the 1993 Billboard Music Awards.
Proving she wasn't a one-hit wonder in the movie biz, Whitney scores another box-office smash in 1995.
A couple of megastars light up the screen together in 1996.
Showing off one of her six Grammys, this one is for Best R&B Performance for "It's Not Right But It's Okay" in 2000.
Whitney struts her stuff for the 2003 version of VH1's Divas.
The often troubled couple made a televised pilgrimage to Jerusalem in 2003.
It was hard to tell which one was the bigger diva when they appeared at the VH1 Divas concert in 2003. Too much drama, in any case, and they would split soon after.
The Bodyguard box-office behemoth and the Oscar winner compare notes and share a smile at Whitney first outing after her split with Bobby Brown.
Hitmaking foursome: Whitney and Clive enjoy the 2007 Grammy bash with Barry Manilow and Mary J. Blige.
The two former costars stepped out together in 2008 to honor Muhammad Ali at the boxing legend's celebrity fight night in 2008.
Rumored romancers but definitely friends too, Ray Jay and Whitney step out on the Hollywood party club scene in 2008.
Whitney was always a guest of honor at music mogul Clive Davis' famous annual fetes, like this one in 2008.
Two talents with a lot in common, most of it good.
Despite her sometimes troubled personal life she could always rise to the occasion like a true legend, as she did here at the American Music Awards in November 2009.
At the 2011 Grammy Gala, Whitney is in fine form as she looks to make a comeback.
Not two days before her death, the star beamed at the pre-Grammy Love of R&B Party at Tru Hollywood. RIP Whitney.
Michael Jackson's estate took out this full-page tribute in the Los Angeles Times.