13 Fun Facts About Dionne Warwick

13 Fun Facts About Dionne Warwick

In Honor of 'Dionne Warwick: Don’t Make Me Over,' Here Are 13 Fun Facts About the Singer

Cover Image Credits: GettyImages | Picture by Alex Goodlett

There are a few things that most people know about Dionne Warwick right away: Burt Bacharach and Hal David loved to write songs for her, and she was Whitney Houston’s cousin. In fact, it’s arguable that there are more people in 2017 that know the latter relationship than knowing Warwick’s own chart history. 

Now let's know some fun facts about her.


1. She won the notoriously competitive Amateur Night at the Apollo in 1957 in New York City, which launched her career.

2. A first cousin to the late pop superstar Whitney Houston, Warwick’s mother and Houston’s mother, Cissy, were sisters.

3. German-born actress-singer Marlene Dietrich took Warwick under her wing when Warwick performed in Paris for the first time.

4. In 1971, she added an “e” to the end of her last name at the advice of an astrologer and numerologist, but she removed it in 1975.

5. An early AIDS activist, she donated the profits from her 1985 single “That’s What Friends Are For” to the cause, which amounted to more than $3 million.


6. She initially didn’t want to record “Alfie” because it had been previously recorded by too many other singers, including Cilla Black and Cher—but Warwick’s version became a Top 20 hit and netted her a performance spot on the Oscars.

7. Warwick began singing at age 6 at St. Mark's Methodist Church in East Orange, New Jersey.

8. Warwick met Burt Bacharach while singing backup at a recording session, which launched her very successful collaboration with Bacharach and his songwriting partner Hal David.

9. In the early ’70s, Warwick met Elvis Presley in Las Vegas, where they were both performing. Afterward, an admiring Presley had local record stores put a photo of himself in Warwick’s albums. He told audiences what he had done, and the stunt resulted in a big increase in Warwick’s record sales in Sin City.


10. Her childhood elementary school, in East Orange, New Jersey, was renamed the Dionne Warwick Institute of Economics and Entrepreneurship.

11. Warwick was named the U.S. Ambassador of Health in 1987 by President Ronald Reagan. She used the platform to bring awareness to the AIDS epidemic.

12. 56 of her singles made the Hot 100 between 1962 and 1998 (12 of them Top 10).

13. "Walk On By," "Alfie," and "Don't Make Me Over" have been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.