A shocking new documentary alleges that Whitney Houston was sexually abused by her famous cousin. On May 16, the documentary, Whitney, debuted at Cannes. During the film, Houston’s assistant, Mary Jones, says that Dee Dee Warwick sexually abused Houston. The alleged abuse occurred when Houston was between the ages of 7 and 9. Dee Dee Warwick was the younger sister of Dionne Warwick and a singer in her own right. Dee Dee passed away in 2008 after years of substance abuse problems.
The film, Whitney, which is directed by Kevin McDonald, was made in co-operation with the Houston family. In it, Mary Jones alleges that the abuse helped to drive Houston’s drug problems and even led to the singer questioning her own sexuality. Speaking to the Associated Press, producer Simon Chinn says, “These are specific revelations that I think will get people to a deeper understanding of who Whitney was and in many ways redeem her as a person.”
Dee Dee, a native of Newark, New Jersey, was the niece of Cissy Houston, Whitney Houston’s mother. The alleged abuse it thought to have occurred while Cissy was on tour with Dee Dee. In the documentary, Whitney Houston’s brother Gary Garland-Houston, also says that he was abused. Dionne Warwick has yet to comment on the allegations. Mary Jones says in the documentary, “I think she was ashamed . . . she used to say, ‘I wonder if I did something to make [Dee Dee] think I wanted her.’ I said, ‘Stop. A predator is a predator is a predator.’ If Cissy had known, she would have done something about it, because Cissy loves her children.’”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Dee Dee Was Thought to Have Been the Only Openly Lesbian Singers of Her Generation
A family source told the Daily Telegraph, “Dee Dee was openly lesbian in the music industry. Not necessarily in public, but I don’t think that was a secret within the music industry. And that was a detriment to her development also, because she didn’t hide it within the music industry. She didn’t.”
An online profile of Dee Dee says that during her life she lived in Los Angeles, New Jersey and Georgia.
2. Dee Dee Thought Her Career Never Took Off Because She Was on the Same Label as Roberta Flack & Aretha Franklin
Dee Dee, who was born Delia Mae Warrick, began her singing career in Newark, New Jersey, in a gospel group along with her sister and Houston’s mother, Cissy. The trio were known as the Gospelaires. In 1966, Dee Dee attempted to break out on her own performing the song, “I’m Gonna Make You Love me.” That song went on to be covered by both the Temptations and the Supremes. Dee Dee became better known in her later years for singing back up to her sister. She also was known to sing for Wilson Pickett and Aretha Franklin. In 1999, Dee Dee was awarded the Pioneer Award by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. During her career, Dee Dee was nominated for two Grammy Awards for the songs “She Didn’t Know” and “Foolish Fool.”
According to her Guardian obituary, Dee Dee felt that her record label, Atlantic, concentrated too much of their efforts on the careers of Roberta Flack and Aretha Franklin. That tribute says that Dee Dee last solo hit came in 1975 with “Get Out of My Life.” In 2006, Dee Dee reunited with her sister, Whitney Houston and Houston’s mother to record the song, “Family First,” on the soundtrack to Tyler Perry’s 2007 movie, Daddy’s Little Girls. Critic Robert Hilburn wrote in the Los Angeles Times in 1996 about Dee Dee abilities saying she sang, “with a soul-baring intensity that is reminiscent of the best of Gladys Knight or Candi Staton.”
3. Whitney Houston Sang, ‘The Lord Is My Shepard’ at Dee Dee’s Funeral
Whitney Houston performed, “The Lord Is My Shepard,” at Dee Dee Warwick’s funeral. Dee Dee died in October 2008 with her sister at her bedside. Dee Dee suffered from heroin addiction during her life which contributed to her death. Rev. DeForest “Buster” Soaries wrote an article about Whitney Houston for CNN in which he noted, “Only those who were present at her cousin Dee Dee Warwick’s funeral in 2008 will understand how moving it was to see this global superstar leave her seat at the end of the service and join the choir in singing “The Lord is My Shepherd.”
Her obituary in the Guardian mentioned that she was survived solely by Dionne Warwick. A separate obituary mentions that the sisters had a brother, Mancel, who was killed in a car accident in 1968. The same tribute says that Dee Dee’s career was “devastated” by “multiple knee operations.”
In July 2005, Fox News reported that Whitney Houston didn’t attend the funeral for Dee Dee and Dionne’s mother, Lee Warrick.
4. In Her Autobiography, Dionne Warwick Described Her Sister as Her ‘Best Friend’
In her autobiography, “My life, as I see it,” Dionne Warwick refers to her and Dee Dee being, “The best of friends.”
5. Rumors About Dionne Warwick’s Sexuality Have Constantly Surfaced Over the Years
Rumors about Dionne Warwick’s sexuality have swirled over the years. A section on Dionne Warwick’s website is titled, “Is Dionne Warwick Gay or Not?” The rumors are largely based on the fact that the singer never entered into a public relationship after divorcing her husband in 1975. Dionne Warwick is considered an advocate for the LGBT community.