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Funeral home denies it provided Whitney Houston casket photo

National Enquirer publisher calls cover shot ‘beautiful’

Pallbearers carry Whitney Houston’s casket after her Saturday funeral in Newark, N.J. The funeral home that prepared Houston’s body denies it provided a photo of the late singer in the casket to the National Enquirer. (CARLO ALLEGRI, Reuters Photo / February 18, 2012)

By Rene Lynch, Tribune Newspapers

The National Enquirer’s cover photo of the late Whitney Houston in her casket was unauthorized and had nothing to do with the funeral home where the singer’s body was prepared, the funeral home’s owner told Tribune Newspapers on Thursday.

Questions of how the photo was obtained have cast suspicion on Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, N.J., but owner Carolyn Whigham insisted her business not play a role.

“I’m going to answer you as the (family’s) publicist told me to answer you: We have no comment. But it was not the funeral home,” Whigham said.

National Enquirer Publisher Mary Beth Wright told she thought the cover photo was “beautiful,” but the Enquirer has not said how it obtained the photo.

Houston, 48, died in a Beverly Hills hotel room earlier this month. Officials said she was found submerged in a bathtub just hours before she was scheduled to attend a pre-Grammys soiree hosted by her longtime mentor, Clive Davis.

There’s some precedent for the Enquirer’s use of the photo — the tabloid ran similar open-casket shots of Elvis Presley after he died in 1977.

A sampling of Chicago newsstands and grocery stores on Thursday indicated they plan to stock and display this issue of the Enquirer as they would any other.

“You can’t be the moral policeman here,” said Jay Gheewala, manager of Daily News Stand in the 200 block of North Michigan Avenue. A few customers bought the magazine by Thursday afternoon, Gheewala said.

“My daughter wanted to see it,” said Diana Moss, 59, of Chicago. “I normally don’t buy these, but she was curious to see (Houston’s photo).”

Despite spending the listed $3.79 price for the Enquirer, Moss thought the tabloid showed poor taste.

“They should have respected the family,” she said.

Chicago Tribune

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