Locals Remember Whitney Houston - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

Remembering the pop queen

Locals Remember Whitney Houston

Radio personality, film producer, bodyguard remember Houston



    Locals Remember Whitney Houston
    Three North Texans touched by Whitney Houston's life remember the singer. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)

    As an icon in the music and film industries, Whitney Houston blazed a trail both as a Grammy-winning singer and barrier-breaking celebrity, becoming the first African-American on Seventeen magazine.

    After her sudden death at age 48, those North Texans who interacted with Houston remember her as an powerful fixture in music, film, and history.

    "It was like no other celebrity was there"

    Millions tune in to listen to national radio host DeDe McGuire's Dallas based K-104 morning show, and now the host, along with others, are coping with the death of music icon, Whitney Houston.

    Former Bodyguard Remembers Whitney Houston

    [DFW] Former Bodyguard Remembers Whitney Houston
    Whitney Houston's former bodyguard, Larry Wansley, remembers the singer in her prime.
    (Published Monday, Feb. 13, 2012)

    McGuire, who has been a fan of Houston since she was young, got an opportunity to see the star at various music awards, she says she remembers trying to interview Houston on the red carpet.

    "Whew, man, when you saw her, you were just like in awe! She would walk up the red carpet and it was like no other celebrity was there, no other star," says McGuire.

    Even after Houston's battles with drugs and alcohol, fans like McGuire would rather remember her as the powerful star.

    Locals Remember Whitney Houston

    [DFW] Locals Remember Whitney Houston
    Radio personality DeDe McGuire and film producer Curtis Wallace remember Whitney Houston.
    (Published Monday, Feb. 13, 2012)

    "Remember her for her voice. Remember her for being one of the first African-American women to star in a major movie, "The Bodyguard." She just broke so many boundaries, I'd rather remember her for those things than the other way," McGuire says.

    "On her road back to where she was before"

    Curtis Wallace, one half of T.D.J. Enterprises, a Dallas-based production company founded by Potter's House Bishop T.D. Jakes, worked with the Houston on the set of her new movie "Sparkle."

    Houston's first film in more than a decade, "Sparkle," is set to be released August 17 and stars Jordan Sparks in a remake of the 1970s film.

    During filming, Wallace recalls seeing a healthy, happy Houston before the project wrapped over the holidays.

    "It really is ironic, it's devastating. She was so engaged in this project and seemed so healthy. I really thought this was going to be one of the steps on her road back to where she was before," said Wallace.

    The producers have are fond memories of Houston's time, including one instance on set where Houston held hands and prayed for the cast and crew of the film.

    "She had everyone join hands, led everyone in a prayer, and I don't know if there was one dry eye among the cast and crew when she left. And that will always be my memory of Whitney Houston," said Wallace.

    "She was like a daughter"

    Former FBI agent Larry Wansley remembers Houston as someone close to family.

    "For some many years, she was like a daughter. She really was," says Wansley.

    Wansley was working with the Dallas Cowboys when he was contacted by Whitney Houston's father before her first world tour.

    "I met with Whitney and her dad, and we had a very very nice conversation.
    We clicked and the rest is history, so to speak," Wansley says.

    Wansley signed on as Houston's head of security -- her bodyguard -- and spent much of 1988 traveling the world with Whitney and her family.

    "I would have boxes and boxes of Cowboys stuff," Wansley says, "then, during shows, she would wear Cowboys gear. It was cool, it was really great."

    Wansley remembers Houston for the impressive vocals he'd hear night after night.

    "Once she hit the stage, it was the most phenomenal experience I've ever had."

    After the tour, Wansley returned to the Cowboys and later worked for American Airlines.

    Wansley says learning of Houston's death reminded him of another terrible day.

    "It really shocked me. It stopped me. I liken it, almost, to that moment on 9-11 when, I was with American Airlines at the time, head of security, and our plane went into the World Trade Center. I got weak in the knees," Wansley says.

    Wansley still thinks of Houston before every Cowboys game -- whenever he hears someone else sing the National Anthem.

    "I always think back and tell myself, 'hey, you're great, but the best was Whitney's.' It really was."

    NBC 5's Amanda Fitzpatrick and Kevin Cokely contributed to this report.