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National Enquirer Defends Whitney Houston Casket Photo, Funeral Home Reacts

February 24, 2012, 2:25 am GMT

While an Enquirer publisher calls the photo of the late 'I Will Always Love You' singer in her casket 'beautiful', Whigham Funeral Home owner says she's angered by the leaking of the picture.

Whitney Houston

National Enquirer has come in defense of its decision to publish a front page photo of the late Whitney Houston's body lying in an open casket. While many have condemned the tabloid for running the image and believe it has finally crossed the line, publisher Mary Beth Wright begged to differ. She simply told Fox News, "I thought it was beautiful."

As question surfaced about how the picture was obtained, Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, New Jersey got caught in the middle of the controversy. Trying to shoot down any suspicion against them, owner Carolyn Whigham told the Los Angeles Times, "I'm going to answer you as the publicist told me to answer you: We have no comment. But it was not the funeral home."

"You guys are getting me in the middle," Whigham complained, before elaborating her statement on the publication of the photo. "I am very angry, very upset, just like the family, just like the fans," she stressed. "We don't like it because it implicates us. Whitney was a personal friend to me and my family. We would not do that."

Enquirer ran the unauthorized Houston photo on the cover of its newest issue. The gossip tabloid proclaimed in its headline, "Whitney: The last photo!" The image in question is said to be reportedly taken at the private viewing inside Whigham Funeral Home, and featured the pop icon dressed in regal purple dress and wearing a diamond broach and earring.

The photo didn't only anger Houston's fans but also fellow members of the media. Among those expressing their disgust were The Washington Post and Hollywood Life. The Post stated that "a line had been crossed," whereas Hollywood Life's Executive Editor Denise Warner told Fox411, "It's just another disgusting display of how low celebrity obsession can stoop."

Warner continued on, "Regardless of how they obtained the picture - and the likely exorbitant price they paid for it, the Enquirer should have thought twice about this post-mortem portrait. No one needs to remember Whitney preserved in formaldehyde. And it's certainly not an image that is necessary in the discussion of her life and death."

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