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November 1981: Before she focused on becoming a professional singer, Houston, born Aug. 9, 1963, in Newark, N.J., was an aspiring model. At the age of 17, she became one of the first black models to grace the cover of Seventeen magazine. She also appeared in the pages of Glamour, Cosmopolitan and Young Miss, and in a commercial for Canada Dry ginger ale, literally singing the praises of the drink.
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Feb. 14, 1985: Houston burst onto the scene with the release of her self-titled debut album. The album eventually topped the Billboard 200 chart for 14 weeks and produced the smash singles "Saving All My Love," "How Will I Know" and "Greatest Love of All," all three of which hit No. 1, making it the first debut album and the first album by a female artist to achieve that feat.
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June 2, 1987: Her second album, "Whitney," saw its first four singles -- "I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)," "Didn't We Almost Have It All," "So Emotional" and "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" -- all peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, making her the first female artist to achieve that feat.
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Nov. 6, 1990: "I'm Your Baby Tonight," Houston's third album, debuted at No. 22 on the Billboard 200 chart. In its second week, it leaped to No. 5 and the following week reached its peak position at No. 3. The license plate on the album cover features Houston's childhood nickname "Nippy," which was also the name she used for her management company, Nippy Inc.
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Nov. 25, 1992: Houston made her film debut in "The Bodyguard" opposite Kevin Costner, and sang several songs on the soundtrack, including her smash hit version of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You." The soundtrack sold more than 45 million copies worldwide and became the best-selling soundtrack of all time. It also won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year and topped the charts in 17 countries.
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Dec. 22, 1995: "Waiting to Exhale," which was Houston's second movie role, also starred Loretta Devine, Angela Bassett and Lela Rochon. Houston also contributed three songs to the film's soundtrack, which reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard 200 album chart, including the No. 1 hit song "Exhale (Shoop Shoop)."