If bad news arrives in threes, maybe good news arrives in twos.
Several years ago, I got two phone calls promising me show business nirvana. The first was from a great, 80-year-old publicist at Warner Brothers who said, "We got a picture. Some new kid. He's really great. An unknown comic who is in town to do standup at a junior college. But it will be a good lunch at the Ritz Carlton in Chicago if you talk to the kid."
I went for the lunch. The kid turned out to be Jim Carrey doing his first interview.
Same week, the phone rang again. This time it was a music publicist who swore, "We got a new act. Some gorgeous girl. She's really great. Pipes like Streisand or Ross. She's in town for one night at a little outdoor concert place. It's a nice night and I'll buy you a drink. Come out and hear the girl."
I only had a Diet Coke that night. But the girl…wow! She turned out to be a then unknown Whitney Houston.
Good didn't even begin to describe it. Try amazing, stupendous, knock your socks off great with a touch of the divine. This girl had pipes, attitude and a way with lyrics that touched your heart.
It wouldn't be the first time I saw Whitney Houston – and soon I would have the pleasure of talking with her.
Soon, it was Fox Publicity who invited me in 1995 to San Francisco to talk to the stars of the film "Waiting to Exhale." It was a thrill to meet Gregory Hines and I thought Loretta Devine was amazing – and still do. But the real grab was getting to actually talk to Whitney.
When she walked around the hallways of the Ritz Carlton, there was a buzz, whispers and pointing. She was a superstar and one of the most gorgeous women on the planet.
She was also a big star by now with all the problems that went with it. There were tabloids rumors that she wasn't eating enough, which she laughed off while eating a doughnut in front of us.
There was also that good girl image. "I'm a lot more street than most people would guess," she said when asked about the biggest misconception about her.
Later that day, I saw her outside of the Ritz Carlton in San Francisco, chain-smoking Kool cigarettes.
Yes, stardom plays with your nerves…and we would soon learn that Whitney had other vices.
But on that day in San Francisco, she was a gorgeous young beauty in off white slacks and a deep green silk shirt. Of course, I asked her for beauty secrets and she just laughed and said, "I just wash up every night like my mama told me and I try to get my beauty sleep, but that's hard these days."
CUT TO NEW YORK
A year later in 1996, on a bitter cold day in New York City, I sat down alone with Whitney at the Regency Hotel on Park Avenue to talk about "The Preacher's Wife." She looked beautiful in just a plain pair of skinny jeans and a red cashmere sweater. Her shoulder length curly hair played around her shoulders.
She discussed the perils of stardom including how the paparazzi "were always making things up about her and Bobby (Brown, her husband). Everyone always wants to invent some trouble. We're just a regular couple. He's a good guy."
Houston talked about her dreams of having more children and how her little daughter Bobbi was the highlight of her life.
"I'm pregnant now," Houston told me, patting her tiny tummy. "I see a large house filled with kids, singing, and love. We're one big singing group."
A few weeks later, it would be announced that she had miscarried.
There would be no more children…and no additional interviews for us. On the acting front, she did a TV movie version of "Cinderella." There was talk of a "Waiting to Exhale" sequel that never happened.
Later in 2012, she will return to the big screen in the musical "Sparkle." That will be the last time the public sees Whitney or hears a song from her for the first time.
Sadly, Houston will be remembered just as much for the bold faced headlines about her addictions, her divorce, and how she flubbed her last "Good Morning America" appearance due to the fact that her gorgeous voice wasn't the same anymore.
I prefer to remember her in San Francisco, vibrant, alive, beautiful, and truly waiting to exhale because being Whitney was pretty overwhelming stuff.
She joked that day about how her girlfriends still asked her about kissing Kevin Costner in "The Bodyguard." "He's not hard on the eyes, now is he?" she said with a smile. "I think we should do a sequel."
In life, there are no sequels.
Sometimes there is just a sad ending.