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Whitney Houston: Watch her earliest TV appearances [Video]

February 12, 2012 |  7:45 am

Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston, who was found dead at age 48 on Saturday in a hotel room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, was known the world over for her singing career and a handful of notable film performances, including the 1992 film "The Bodyguard."

Houston made her TV debut, however, on April 29, 1983, on "The Merv Griffin Show." The 19-year-old singer had just signed a recording deal with Clive Davis and Arista Records and performed the song "Home" from the "Wizard of Oz" musical "The Wiz."

After her performance, Davis and Griffin both embraced her.

PHOTOS: Whitney Houston | 1963-2012

But that performance did not launch Houston into superstardom immediately.

Though her starring role in the "The Bodyguard" was touted as her acting debut, the future pop superstar actually made her acting debut in a 1984 episode of the Nell Carter sitcom "Gimme a Break!"

Just two months before her first hit single, "Hold Me," recorded with Teddy Pendergrass, was released, she appeared as Rita, the friend of the sitcom family's airheaded oldest daughter, Katie (Kari Michaelsen) in the episode "Katie's College." 

The plot of the episode revolved around Katie's decision not to go to college and to open a boutique with her friend Rita. Ultimately, Katie didn't attend college and opened her boutique, but Houston's role was limited to this one episode, which aired March 15, 1984. On May 25, her duet single with Pendergrass would be released and become a top 5 hit on the U.S. R&B chart.

The following year, her debut album, "Whitney Houston," was released and her singing career took off and left supprting roles on sitcoms behind. (She did, however, make an appearance as herself on a 1985 episode of "Silver Spoons.")


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Photo: Whitney Houston performing at the 2011 pre-Grammy gala at the Beverly Hilton. Credit: Mark Ralston / AFP / Getty Images