Obsessed fans can be a downside of stardom. It’s why Whitney Houston’s character hired Kevin Costner to protect her in the 1992 movie “The Bodyguard.”
The real life Houston had the FBI helping to protect her more than two decades ago when a “loner” in Vermont warned in 1988 that he “might hurt someone with some crazy idea” if the singer did not acknowledge him.
Then there was the man in Holland who claimed to be the “President of Europe.” An FBI agent based in Brussels paid him a visit in 1999 to talk about the cassette recordings and letters “of a threatening nature” that he sent to Houston.
The FBI also investigated someone who demanded $250,000 or else they would reveal “intimate details regarding Whitney Houston’s romantic relationships” just months after her marriage to singer Bobby Brown.
None of these cases led to criminal charges, but the FBI
Times have changed and fans are more likely to send tweets or post on Facebook than send letters, but these decades-old FBI files still reveal why they are called “fanatics.”
“But because I have gotten that desperate and mad and would come up with ideas that that it scares me that I might come up with some crazy or stupid or really dumb idea that might be as bad as that or even worse than that,” a 28-year-old Vermont man wrote. “I might hurt someone with some crazy idea and not realize how stupid an idea it is until after I have done it. That really scares me.”
This is from a letter sent to an associate of Houston by a man pleading for some acknowledgement that the singer knew he existed. His first 66 letters to Houston and 10 to her family and friends were unanswered. “I am desperate to get some sort of response,” he wrote. But this one got the attention of federal investigators.
This man, whose named was blacked out from the documents, wrote that he fell in love with Houston in March 1986–the same month she released “The Greatest Love of All.”
“When I first fell in love with Miss Whitney I tried to ignore what I felt toward her,” he said in one handwritten letter postmarked in Burlington, Vermont. “After 5 months I had to do something and so I started writing letters. I have tried to stop writing the letters and to give up twice but after a few weeks I had to start writing again. I just have to keep trying.”
Although the FBI initially characterized it as an extortion investigation, the man was only asking to know “if Miss Whitney has ever even seen one of my letters.”
“Can you help me. Can you call me and talk to me or in some way way find out from Miss Whitney if she is getting my letters or not and let me know.”
He described himself as “sort of a loner” who liked children and small animals. “Sometimes I will just sit and watch children playing or I will watch birds or squirrels as they hunt for food.”
In his letters to Houston, he called her “a beautiful lady and a beautiful person.”
“I really and truly am in love with you. Please believe in life and love and trust in yourself, and in your friends and trust in god. Miss, Whitney, you are a special person and a wonderful gift. Please keep singing and helping people to be happy, but most of all, Miss Whitney, Please Keep Smiling.”
He wrote that he had been to nine of her concerts “and have tried to give her flowers twice at the concerts. Miss Whitney is the first lady that I have ever given flowers to.”
“I just can’t stop thinking about you,” he wrote. “Many times when I think of you I will start to shake. Please, Please give me a chance,”
This fan’s stomach turned one day when he saw a tabloid headline suggesting Houston was secretly married, he wrote.
“I saw a headline for an article in one of those things in the supermarket saying that you were married allready. I am sure they made it up, but I allmost broke down right then and there and I have still been sick for the last several days.”
But it wasn’t all love talk. The man, who the FBI said was a U.S. Army veteran, talked politics.
In one letter he said he wanted to raise taxes on the rich, cut taxes for anyone who does’t make enough money “to live at an acceptable level” and give them free health care. He was also for a balanced federal budget.
“I believe that even if the rich people of this nation paid very high rates on their upper levels of income that they would still live better than over 99% of the people on this planet,” he wrote to Houston.
He worried his political views might keep her from loving him back. “You might not think much of a guy who wants you to send most of your money to the federal government. I hope that you do not hold that against me but I will understand if you do.”
After the 79th letter to Houston–and 16 to her family, friends and business associates–an FBI agent knocked on the door of his “small, cluttered one-room apartment,” the FBI files said.
He explained that he would never do physical harm to anyone, but his letter’s reference to doing something “crazy or stupid or really dumb” meant the possibility that he would go on TV’s “The Phil Donahue Show” to talk about his love for Houston. But, “He believed this ‘crazy idea’ would have hurt Houston’s reputation, so he decided not to follow through with it,” an FB agent wrote.
The FBI concluded the fan had broken no laws and the case was closed.
The Dutch fan investigated by the FBI also insisted he never intended to threatened Houston. The cassette recordings he sent were songs he’d written for the singer.
He told the agent he was the “President of Europe” and had purchased Brazil for $66 billion. He also claimed credit for the fall of the former South African government and for the election of Nelson Mandela in South Africa.
The man, who worked at a plant nursery in the Netherlands, promised not to send any more, the agent wrote.
Another FBI investigation centered on Houston’s allegation that someone she knew was extorting her by threatening to “reveal certain details of her private life” to tabloids unless she paid $250,000 in November 1992. The unidentified person claimed to have “knowledge of intimate details regarding Whitney Houston’s romantic relationships,” an FBI report said.
Houston, in a December 1992 interview by the FBI, said she didn’t know what the person might know, but the singer did talk about personal matters with the person, the heavily-redacted report said.
A letter sent to Houston’s father by a lawyer for the person warned that they had “already turned down several offers… which are in the six figures range” for the story.
“Therefore, we would expect a similar offer from you with respect to the sale of… exclusive rights.”
Her client “has suffered emotional stress” from her dealing with Houston and may sue, the lawyer said.
“The fall-out will undoubtedly be negative,” the lawyer warned Houston’s father. Instead of meeting a November 23, 1992, deadline to pay, Houston’s father called the FBI.
The FBI and U.S. attorney decided no laws were broken and the case was closed.
Alan Duke | CNN