Updated at the bottom: Reports indicate Houston might have been found underwater in a tub. First posted at 6:02 p.m. Saturday.
Pop music icon Whitney Houston was found dead in a room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where she was to appear tonight at a Grammy pre-party with music industry executive Clive Davis, according to TMZ and Associated Press.
Fox 11 News footage showed a crime-scene investigation truck outside the hotel, and TMZ says the Beverly Hills Police Department was conducting an inquiry.
… so far there are no reports of foul play.
It was no secret that Houston did not always take care of herself and had a past plagued by drug addiction and alcohol abuse.
AP reported that the singer's publicist confirmed her death. She was 48. TMZ says she was pronounced dead at 3:55 p.m.
We were unable to get through to Beverly Hills police for confirmation.
The Grammy Awards take place at Staples Center tomorrow.
[Added at 6:31 p.m.]: NBC Los Angeles reports that a member of “entourage” found her and called 911 this afternoon.
The station says the event for Davis will go on tonight but will now be a tribute to Houston.
[Added at 6:38 p.m.]: The Los Angeles Times says paramedics were called to the hotel about 3:30 p.m. and that Houston was pronounced around 4: For about 20 minutes first-responders tried unsuccessfully to revive her via CPR.
[Added at 7 p.m.]: Several celebrities reacted to the news via Twitter. A few examples:
[Added at 7:08 p.m.]: Beverly Hills police Lt. Mark Rosen told reporters outside the hotel that Houston was found in a room on the fourth floor of the Hilton, according to AP: “There were no obvious signs of any criminal intent at this time,” Rosen said.
[Added at 7:11 p.m.]: Neil Portnow, president of the organization behind the Grammy Awards, the Recording Academy, issued this statement Saturday night:
Six-time GRAMMY winner Whitney Houston was one of the world's greatest pop singers of all time who leaves behind a robust musical soundtrack spanning the past three decades. Her powerful voice graced many memorable and award-winning songs. A light has been dimmed in our music community today, and we extend our deepest condolences to her family, friends, fans and all who have been touched by her beautiful voice.
[Added at 7:12 p.m.]: TMZ reports that witnesses say Houston and acquaintances were “drinking and very loud” at a Beverly Hilton bar last night.
[Added at 7:23 p.m.]: Nice backgrounder from the Wall Street Journal on Houston's history. The piece says Davis, her mentor, was spinning her to the press as …
… this perfect pop princess, music royalty, the daughter of pop-gospel great Cissy Houston and the cousin of Dionne Warwick and unstoppably destined for glory and sales success. Later on, when she performed “The Star-Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl in 1991, her voice became a kind of symbol of mainstream America, as much as the Golden Arches or Microsoft.
“My aunt found her dead in the tub,” she tweeted, long before reports of Houston's death hit the web.
We called Lizca Spalding, Dixon's business manager. When asked if her client had indeed discovered Houston dead she said, “I have no comment.”
[Added at 8:05 p.m.]: The Times tonight runs an account of shadowing Houston Thursday as part of a press junket promoting the reunion between Davis, Houston and other pop icons he mentored.
The paper says …
… she appeared disheveled in mismatched clothes and hair that was dripping wet with either sweat or water.
The visibly bloated singer displayed erratic behavior throughout the afternoon — flailing her hands frenetically as she spoke to Brandy and Monica, skipping around the ballroom in a child-like fashion and wandering aimlessly about the lobby. It was mentioned by a Grammy staffer that security personnel received calls of the singer doing handstands by the pool.
After leaving rehearsals, Houston returned to the ballroom — with her teenage daughter Bobbi Kristina in tow — as camera crews set up for interviews. The singer smelled of alcohol and cigarettes.
[Added at 9:53 p.m.]: In what it bills as an exclusive, TMZ confirms that Houston was found in a bathtub. The site says police are seeking a warrant to search the hotel room.
Five hours after her death, a collection of Houston's greatest hits made it to the top of iTunes' pop albums chart.
L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa issued a statement regarding Houston's passing that called her “the most awarded female recording artist of all time.”
[Added at 10:15 p.m.]: Here's the Beverly Hills Police Department's account of what happened, via the Times:
At approximately 3:43 p.m. the Beverly Hills Police Department received a 911 call to respond to the Beverly Hilton hotel regarding a medical emergency. Police and fire personnel were immediately dispatched. Fire Department personnel were already on scene at the hotel due a pre-Grammy event taking place later this evening.
Fire Department personnel, accompanied by hotel security, responded to the hotel room occupied by entertainer Whitney Houston. Upon arrival, first responders discovered Whitney Houston unresponsive. They initiated CPR, but were unable to revive her. At approximately 3:55 pm. Whitney Houston, age 48, was pronounced dead at the scene. Whitney Houston was positively identified at the scene by members of her entourage, which included friends, co-workers and family. Ms. Houston's daughter and mother were notified of her death.
Beverly Hills Police detectives and crime scene investigators were called to the scene to conduct a death investigation. This is a common practice whenever a death occurs which is unattended and unexpected. The investigation is currently being conducted and there is no additional information at this time.
The actual cause of death will be determined by the Coroner's Office.
[Update at 3:06 p.m. Sunday]: TMZ says Houston might have been found in the tub “underwater:”
We're told the hairdresser, who is female, went in to check on Whitney. She immediately screamed and, according to our sources, one of the bodyguards came running in and pulled her out of the tub.
The Times concurs, reporting that ” … investigators probing the death of Whitney Houston are trying to determine whether she drowned while in a bathtub at the Beverly Hilton on Saturday.”
But the coroner's conclusion could be deferred until the results of a toxicology results come in. That could take up to six weeks.
Meanwhile, Houston's 18-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, was rushed from the Beverly Hilton to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center this morning, It was her second trip to the hospital since her mother died. She was reportedly suffering from exhaustion and hysteria.