Who Is René Angelil?
René Angelil was born in Quebec, Canada on January 16, 1942. He grew up to become a singer, and then later a manager for Canadian singers. Long before he met Celine, René was married twice:
- His first wife was Denyse Duquette, they were married for six years – they had one son together.
- His second wife was singer Anne Reneé, to whom he was married for over 10 years before divorcing in 1986 – they had two children together.
René was part of a pop group called the Baronets in the 60s and then turned his attention to managing artists as he got older. Among his many talents was a knack for poker – he even qualified for the 2005 World Series!
When Celine was 12, she wrote one of her very first songs with the help of her mother and brother, who sent the tape to René, then in his late-thirties. He invited the young singer to audition and as soon as he heard her voice he “started to cry,” said Celine in an interview. Perhaps René immediately recognised the star power waiting to be untapped in Celine, because soon after, he took on the role of manager and went to great lengths to put her music out there.
According to Biography.com, he even mortgaged his own home to cover the cost of producing her first album!
Romance In The Air
When Celine was 19 and René was 45 their professional relationship unexpectedly blossomed into romance, They dated in secret for five years after that, wary of what people would think of their unconventional relationship – after all, the two had a 26-year age difference! Meanwhile, they continued to work steadily on Celine’s career. In 1991, not only did she record the theme to Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, but she also won a Grammy for it!
Their Career And Relationship Highs
Celine and René wed in 1994, but not before dealing with her mother’s disapproval. It was a “you and me against the world” situation, but eventually, Celine’s mother respected her daughter’s wishes. Celine and René’s wedding was even broadcast on live TV in Canada!
Several years after they wed, Dion reached even greater heights in her career. Titanic became a major hit, and Celine won an Oscar for ‘My Heart Will Go On’ the year it was released. Sadly, a year after her Titanic success, tragedy struck for the first time. It was just the first of many tumultuous trials for the two.
René’s First Cancer Diagnosis
René was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998. Celine quickly dropped all of her professional engagements to be there for her husband. Thankfully, by 2000, René was declared to be in the clear, and so the couple embarked on a new journey: parenthood. Celine gave birth to their son, René Charles Dion, in 2001.
Following the birth of René Charles, Celine and René spent many happy years as a family. Celine continued to enjoy success and became a pop culture icon over the years. In 2003, she embarked on what would become a 16-year-long concert residency in Las Vegas. In 2007, she was named the fifth richest woman in entertainment by Forbes, beating out Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson for the spot. Her current net worth is an estimated $USD700 million ($AUD1,031,859,500).
René’s Second Cancer Diagnosis
By 2010, the couple became parents again when Celine gave birth to twin boys Eddy Angelil and Nelson Angelil. Sadly, only three years after the birth of their children, René’s cancer returned much more aggressive than the first time.
Though Celine took another career break to care for René, he urged her to return to Las Vegas in 2015. Celine was apprehensive, even telling USA Today, “I didn't want to be here at first, I don't need it. Don't get me wrong, I love singing for people, but I have priorities”.
How Did René Angelil Die?
After years of fighting cancer, René passed on January 14, 2016; just days before his 74th birthday. Speaking candidly about his battle, Celine admitted that René could no longer drink or eat on his own in the last two years of his life. On that fateful day in January, René had a heart attack and, as Celine put it “was liberated from his pain”.
Her final words to René? “I'm fine, the kids are great, we're gonna be okay. It's enough suffering. Just go in peace”.
René’s funeral was held on January 22, 2016, in the Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal (not much has been said about the couple’s religion, but the church is Roman Catholic). Just like their wedding, René’s funeral was broadcast on live TV in Canada.
The Aftermath of René’s Death
Celine has made it a point to honour and remember her husband after his death. When she accepted the Icon Award at the 2016 Billboard Music Awards, she gave an extremely vulnerable shoutout to her husband: “René, this one's for you. The show must go on”.
In December of that year, she released a tribute video documenting her emotional journey.
About Throat Cancer
According to Cancer Australia, head and neck cancer is the 15th leading cause of cancer-related death. More males are diagnosed with head and neck cancer than females, and if you’re a smoker, you’re at a much higher risk. Symptoms include pain anywhere in the head or neck, a persisting lump, coughing blood, hoarseness, and difficulty swallowing. If you suspect symptoms of throat cancer, see your physician right away.