Appearing on the Hot Takes & Deep Dives podcast this week, the former talk show host and actor looked back on her relationship with the Grammy-winning singer, who died in 2012.
Houston “was, at that time, really in a downward spiral with drugs, and it was obvious to anyone who was watching her,” O’Donnell said to host Jess Rothschild, who asked about the time Houston had been “a no-show” on The Rosie O’Donnell Show in the 1990s.
“Robyn [Crawford], who was her partner for a while, she had written me and told me that was a very big day for them – the crew around her – to think that they had to make inroads to try to help her, and sadly, they didn’t. Or couldn’t,” O’Donnell added.
“Whitney was troubled by, I think, the gay part of her life and didn’t want it exposed,” O’Donnell continued. “I think that there was a lot of conflict about that.”
Crawford, who was one of the late singer's closest associates during her career, was long rumoured to be in a relationship with Houston. In 2019, she released a book called A Song for You: My Life With Whitney Houston, where she addressed their history.
“Believe me, I've done my best to stay out of the spotlight, keeping quiet while others painted their own pictures of me and us," Crawford wrote in the book's introduction. "In the 19 years since I left Whitney's company I have been pursued relentlessly to share my story. And since her death and that of her daughter, I have been saddened and frustrated by the way she and her legacy have been misrepresented.” (Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, died in 2015 at 22.)
“[It is] my duty to honour my friend and to clarify the many inaccuracies about myself and who Whitney was,” she added.
O’Donnell added that she believed Houston was conflicted about her sexuality. “It’s culturally more difficult I think ... That weighed heavily on her, growing up in the church and gospel and singing. I think there was a lot of conflict about that.”
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