Kevin Costner recalls "sweet miracle of Whitney"

Sat Feb 18, 2012 6:10pm EST
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NEWARK, New Jersey (Reuters) - Actor Kevin Costner gave an emotional tribute to singer Whitney Houston at her funeral on Saturday, revealing insights into the singing sensation who died suddenly last week and hit film "The Bodyguard" they made together.

Costner told family, friends and greats of the music industry who packed the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark during the uplifting ceremony that he and Houston both came from musical families and grew up as Baptists.

"Whitney returns home today to the place where it all began and I urge us all inside and across the nation and around the world to dry our tears, suspend our sorrow, perhaps our anger, just long enough to remember the sweet miracle of Whitney," he said.

Although Houston's place in musical history is assured, Costner remembered her self-doubt, fear, need for reassurance and her worries, and his doubts, about her first acting role in the 1992 film "The Bodyguard."

"The Whitney that I knew, despite her worldwide success and fame, still wondered, 'Am I good enough? Am I pretty enough? Will they like me?' It was the burden that made her great, and the part that caused her to stumble in the end," he said.

"People didn't just like you, Whitney, they loved you."

Costner recalled that Hollywood studio executives were hesitant to cast Houston in her first starring role, preferring "somebody white," but she soon won everyone over.

Houston nailed the movie's screen test and dispelled any doubt studio executives had. The film went on to become a worldwide blockbuster, but Costner confessed that the hit song "I Will Always Love You" almost didn't make the film because it wasn't the first choice.

He praised Houston, who suffered a still unexplained death in a Beverly Hills hotel room one week ago, for setting the bar so high for professional singers and for young women trying to make it in the music business.   Continued...

Pall-bearers carry the casket of pop singer Whitney Houston to a hearse following her funeral service at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey February 18, 2012. Houston, 48, died in a Beverly Hills hotel room on February 11, the eve of the music industry's Grammy Awards. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson