Last month we got a first glimpse at Whitney, the new documentary from Kevin Macdonald about the legendary pop singer. While the documentary was aided by Whitney Houston’s estate, it’s not just a puff piece about how great of a singer she was. It also delves into long-rumored Whitney Houston abuse allegations that she suffered childhood sexual trauma — and confirms them.
After Whitney screened at Cannes, the world was shocked to discover that Whitney Houston and her half-brother Gary were both allegedly molested by their cousin Dee Dee Warwick.
Dee Dee Warwick is singer Dionne Warwick’s sister and the niece of Cissy Houston, Whitney’s mother.
As was the case with many members of her family, Dee Dee Warwick was also a singer; she got her start performing with Dionne as the Gospelaires and went on to sing backup for Aretha Franklin and Wilson Pickett. She was also nominated for two Grammy Awards in 1969 and 1970; both times for Best R&B Vocal Performance, Female.
Whitney’s brother Gary, speaking about his problems with addiction, explained “Being a child — being 7, 8, 9 years old — and being molested by a female family member of mine. My mother and father were gone a lot, so we stayed with a lot of different people … four, five different families who took care of us.”
When Macdonald discovered Gary’s abuse, he worked to get confirmation that Whitney had also suffered abuse — which he ended up getting from Mary Jones, Whitney’s longtime assistant.
Though Whitney never spoke out publicly, Macdonald noted that she made sure to always bring her daughter on tour with her rather than leave her with anyone else.
During her lifetime, Whitney Houston never told her mother about the abuse, but Macdonald said that both Cissy Houston and Dionne Warwick were told before the film was released.
Macdonald told Vanity Fair that Cissy and Dionne should not be blamed for their family member’s actions: “Any negative feelings toward her would be completely wrong. She had nothing to do with it. She knew nothing about it. We definitely don’t want any repercussions for her.”
Dee Dee Warwick died in 2008.
Whitney is in theaters July 6. What do you think about these Whitney Houston abuse claims? Let us know in the comments.
Featured image by Gunter W. Kienitz/REX/Shutterstock