Kevin Costner’s Eulogy for Whitney Houston

April 4, 2012

On February 18th, Kevin Costner delivered a touching eulogy at the funeral of singer and pop star, Whitney Houston. Pabs is pleased to publish the full text of the eulogy below. As transcribed by D Woolley.

Ladies and gentlemen, we’re gathered here today to say goodbye to a very special lady. A lady by the name of Whitney Houston.

To some of you, Whitney was a friend. To some, a mother. To others, a sister, and to others still, an aunt, a cousin, a second cousin. Maybe even a cousin once-removed; although, to be honest, I’ve never really understood how that works. To Bobby Brown (hey Bobby, how you doing? Good to see you here. I’m guessing they let you out for the day, huh? They got you on some kind of tag?) – to Bobby, I guess you could say Whitney was a wife, at least for a while; although you’d have to say that that marriage didn’t work out so well. But then maybe marriage was never right for them. Maybe they were just two people who enjoyed hanging out, getting high together. You know, I’m guessing if you’re into smoking crack, maybe that’s the kind of thing that’s nice to do with somebody, rather than just puffing away by yourself. Kinda like having a drink with your buddies, only you’re hitting on some crystals in a pipe.

For many of you, however, Whitney Houston was none of these things. Perhaps Whitney was just a lady with a special voice; perhaps you swayed to one of Whitney’s songs as the first dance at your wedding. Or perhaps, as a young boy going through puberty back in the eighties, you experienced your first woody watching one of Whitney’s videos. Hell, I can understand that. Everybody’s gotta have a first, right? For me it was Jane Fonda. Anybody else in here have Jane Fonda as their first? Come on fellas, let’s see a show of hands out there… I know I can’t be the only one who had Jane. Anyone? Well, I guess you’re all feeling a little shy today. That’s ok.

To me, Whitney Houston was a friend. We got to know eachother many years ago, when she played a supporting role in one of my films. Incidentally, some people have tried to suggest that Whitney was the lead in that movie, and I was the supporting actor. Well, to those people I always point out that the title of that movie was ‘The Bodyguard’. If Whitney’s character had been more important than mine, they’d have called it ‘The Singer’ or something like that. But they didn’t. They called it ‘The Bodyguard’.

Anyway, the point is, Whitney touched so many of our lives in so many different ways. You see, what was so special about Whitney was that she had this way of cutting through boundaries. I look around me today, I see black faces, brown faces, white faces, yellow faces, faces that look suspiciously middle-eastern. (I’m not sure how those guys got past security by the way. Can someone look into that?). I see African-Americans and regular white Americans. I see Latinos and Puerto Ricans. I see people who I’m guessing are Chinese, although of course they might be Japanese, or even Korean – you can’t always tell the difference right? But anyway, as I said, the point is, Whitney reached out to all of us.

Actually, having said that, there is one group of people I don’t think is represented here today, and that’s the Native American Indians. I mean, I might have missed somebody out there in the crowd; it’s quite hard to see everyone with the lighting in here. But if I am right, then I gotta be honest and say to those Navajos: Really? After all I did for you guys? You know, a lot of people come up to me and say, ‘Hey Kevin, how come you made a movie about Indians sitting around and talking? Why aren’t those warmongering sons of bitches riding round, killing and raping innocent white people, like what really happened?’ Well, to those people I say one thing and one thing only: “artistic license”.

By the way, if anyone here today hasn’t seen Dances with Wolves, I really recommend you check it out as soon as you get chance. Just fast-forward through most of the stuff with the Indians. The good bits are where you get to see me hanging out with a wolf.

You know, whenever I think about Whitney Houston, I can’t help but think of Michael Jackson also. Leaving aside Stevie Wonder – who, as a disabled man, we need to put into a different category, like they do for athletes, because it wouldn’t be fair otherwise – Michael and Whitney were the two most important figures in black popular music.

Michael and Whitney: they had so much in common. Both were huge in the 80s; both trailed off a bit in the nineties; and, if we’re totally honest, both have been increasingly disappointing over the last decade. Both of them liked to sing, both liked to dance, and both of them had a genuine talent for dressing up.

But though there was indeed so much they shared in common, there were differences also. For example, whilst Michael chose to remain very much in the public eye right up until the time of his death, demonstrating to the world his increasingly tenuous grasp on reality, Whitney opted to retreat into a more private world, so she could act our her own delusions largely (if not entirely) away from the cameras. And, of course, there was another key difference: Whitney Houston was never alleged to have held sleepovers at her house for underage children, where those children were doped up with ‘Jesus Juice’ and taken advantage of sexually.

Note that I say ‘alleged’. Whether or not Michael actually did these things, that’s not for me to say. All I’m saying is, allegations were made. And, as we all know, there’s no smoke without fire. That’s all I’m saying.

Actually, that’s something my mom used to say to me: There’s no smoke without fire. She had a lot of sayings, that lady. Some of them made sense and some of them didn’t, not really. I’ll give you an example. She used to say: ‘Kevin, you can’t have your cake and eat it.’ I mean, that doesn’t make sense, right? At least, it didn’t at the time.

But let me tell you a little story. My mother died almost five years ago now. And on that day – on the day of her funeral – you know what I did? Right after the service, after we’d laid her into the ground, I went out to the first bakery I could find and I said to the guy behind the counter: ‘Give me the biggest, most expensive cake you got.’ And so the guy pulls out this enormous cake. I mean, I’ve seen some cakes in my time, but this really is something else. I was like, Wow. So I say to this guy in the baker’s hat: ‘Ok, big guy, I want you to take that cake, and I want you to cut it into four equal pieces. That’s right – four. I don’t care how big they are.’ Well, he cuts the cake, just like I told him. So then I drive back to the cemetery, all by myself, with this cake in the car. When I get to the cemetery, I walk up to my mother’s resting place, and I kneel down and lay two pieces of cake right there on the freshly turned earth.

I say, ‘Momma, it’s me, Kevin. I hope you’re doing okay down there. Now listen, I’ve brought you some cake. It’s a cake with four pieces – that’s two pieces for you, plus I got two pieces for myself. Now, I’m gonna take one of my pieces and I’m gonna eat it – I’m gonna eat it right here and now. And you know what I’m gonna do with the other piece? I’m gonna keep it. That’s right: I’m gonna have it. You can do whatever you want with your two pieces, but that’s what I’m doing with mine. I’m gonna have one piece and I’m gonna eat the other.’ And you know what? Hands down, that was the single best day of my life. I drove out of that cemetery that day and I said: Hey, momma, guess who’s making the rules now? That’s right. Me. Kevin. Kevin’s making the rules.

Ladies and gentleman, if there’s one thing that life has taught me, it’s this: It’s ok to want a happy ending – but you can’t just lie there and expect it to happen. Sometimes you’ve got to take matters into your own hands; you gotta create that happy ending for yourself.

Did Whitney Houston’s story have a happy ending? Well, according to the autopsy report, Whitney’s final hours were awash with a cocktail of alcohol, cocaine and any number of prescription drugs. And let’s be honest – there’s gotta be worse ways to go, right?

So farewell, Whitney Houston. You have a new bodyguard now; and we take comfort in that. Amen.

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