Whitney Houston's body arrives home in New Jersey

Tue Feb 14, 2012 12:42am EST
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By Dan Whitcomb and Jonathan Allen

LOS ANGELES/NEWARK (Reuters) - Whitney Houston's body arrived in her home state of New Jersey on Monday night, ahead of a funeral expected later this week for the pop superstar whose blockbuster career was often overshadowed by drug and alcohol abuse.

A plane owned by actor-producer Tyler Perry landed at an airport in Teterboro, New Jersey, where security was tight. A gold hearse left the airport and arrived just before midnight at the Whigham funeral home in Newark, the city where Houston was born. A crowd of about 50 fans had gathered outside.

A spokeswoman for Houston's family said plans for a memorial had not yet been completed, but media reports have said a public viewing and funeral would be held later this week.

Houston, 48, rose from singing in a church choir to become one of the best-selling and most admired performers of her generation.

She won six Grammys and more than 400 other awards in a 25-year career that also saw her star in such blockbuster films as "The Bodyguard." She was best known for her 1992 hit single "I Will Always Love You."

But Houston's success was eclipsed later in life by problems with drinking and drugs. She had a long history of addiction to alcohol, cocaine and marijuana, admitting so on television talk shows. She was in rehab as recently as May 2011.

Houston died in a Beverly Hills hotel room Saturday on the eve of the music industry's Grammy Awards, and because of her drug battles, speculation arose that she might have died of a drug overdose.

On Monday, Beverly Hills police called a news conference to address the media "rumors," but did not add much additional information. They did say the singer's body had been found underwater in the hotel room's bathtub.   Continued...

<p>Thirteen-year-old William James Collier of San Antonio, Texas tosses a lemon as he lies on the ground behind a makeshift memorial to singer Whitney Houston on a corner of the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California February 13, 2012. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>