Film & TV

The Bodyguard: Whitney Houston's Moment Under the Miami Sun

This past weekend's news about R&B and pop icon Whitney Houston's death still seems unbelievable to us. But even with all the demons that seemed to haunt her until her untimely passing, we'd still like to remember her as The Voice.

So let's take a look back at a bit of film history with Houston's acting debut in The Bodyguard. The film, written by Lawrence Kasdan (Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back), was originally meant to be starring vehicle for Diana Ross. But it wouldn't be until Kevin Costner and Houston came on to the project that the movie would see its release.

Now, nobody is going to argue that The Bodyguard is the best film ever made. In fact, it's far from it. Houston's acting was, well, over the top and downright campy, and earned her a Razzie nomination for Worst Actress (one of six nominations for the film). Luckily, it had two redeeming qualities: a stellar soundtrack, which included hits like "I Have Nothing," "I'm Every Woman," and "I Will Always Love You"; and scenic Miami Beach in a supporting role.

With music that easily overshadowed the film, it's easy to forget The Bodyguard's strong Miami ties. Starring alongside Houston was the Fontainebleau Hotel.

An hour into the movie, Houston's character, Rachel, travels to Miami for an AIDS benefit concert at the landmark hotel. There are sweeping views of Miami Beach's shoreline and the hotel itself, which at the time was called the Fontainebleau Hilton.

A good 15 minutes of the film take place inside and around the hotel, which showcases views of the penthouse suite, the pool area (the way Morris Lapidus intended it), and Tropigala, which is better known these days as LIV.

Even Bal Harbour gets a name drop when Rachel escapes the constant surveillance of Frank (a.k.a the bodyguard) for a shopping getaway.

Jeff Soffer, owner and CEO of the landmark hotel, released a statement shortly after the news of Houston's death, stating, "We are deeply saddened to learn of Whitney Houston's passing and send our sincere sympathies to her family and fans around the world. Fontainebleau is forever grateful to the legendary icon for allowing us to play a small part in her unforgettable legacy."

The hotel also (conveniently) reminds us in its statement that Houston intended to launch her 2009's comeback I Look to You from the hotel. Those plans never materialized. Maybe it was for the best, because we are left with a great moment in Miami cinema history starring Houston at the height of her fame.

Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.

KEEP MIAMI NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Miami New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Miami, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.
Contact: Jose D. Duran