Every beginning comes implicitly with an impending goodbye. Best-selling musical artist Celine Dion and producer, manager, and singer René Angélil had to say goodbye after 21 years of marriage and association that lasted even longer, tracing back to when Dion was 12. Angélil passed away in 2016 at the age of 73 and Dion would admit to thinking about him constantly. How did this intense relationship begin, and when?
With a 26-year age gap between them, Angélil worked with 12-year-old Dion when he was 38 and serving as her manager. He had been sent a tape of the rising star’s work and he, by then well-known as a manager, invited her for an audition. “While I was singing he started to cry,” Dion revealed. “I knew then I had done a good job.” Angélil reportedly believed so much in her success, he mortgaged his house to finance her 1981 album, and would take Dion and her mother on tours through Canada, Europe, and Japan as he managed her career.
The relationship between Celine Dion and René Angélil
Dion would assert that she and Angélil did not pursue a relationship until she was around 19 or 20. She even pressed, “Don’t start a story,” to Larry King in 1999, “I was in love a long time before then.” The relationship reached a major milestone the evening of April 30, 1988, the date Dion won the Eurovision Song Contest for Switzerland with the song “Ne partez pas sans moi.” The two exchanged a kiss.
Dion also penned a concrete dedication to their relationship in the sleeve notes of her The Colour of My Love album. “When you’re in love, you want to scream it to the world,” she explained as to why she needed to spread word of their relationship. By 1991, they were engaged. The resulting wedding, which occurred on December 17, 1994, was as splendid as Dion’s career, though her mother strongly protested. Dion understood to a degree, admitting she “she tried to make me understand that this man tried marriage twice before, he has three children, he’s not responsible.” But many others were rooting for them and Dion tied the knot while wearing a crystal-and-silk Mirella dress with a 20-foot train.
The ties that bind
“I’m not surprised that we married each other,” said Dion, “because we have the same dreams. We have the same goals. We respect each other.” The two continued on a mutual path that now blended love and work while also building a family, with Dion continuing to soar to new heights and Angélil overseeing her success. There were bumps in the road of their relationship, Dion admitted, explaining, “We had tension between us. It’s never easy being husband and wife, but add to that we are in business together, dealing with all the added pressures of shows, concerts, tours, traveling. It was hard – a lot of hard work.”
But there were also health complications on the horizon. In 1998, Angélil was diagnosed with throat cancer. Ultimately, he would be rid of it for this first bout by 2000, but it returned in 2013. Angélil underwent surgery but the disease was declared terminal in 2014 and on January 14, 2016, he passed away. When asked if Dion might ever date again, Dion said, “I don’t know. I have no idea.” Dion shares tribute posts to the late manager, where she writes, “There’s not one day that we don’t think about you. We’re reaching out to you now more than ever, to guide us, protect us, and continue to watch over us. And we pray that you’ll shine your love on the entire world, to all those at this very moment, who are facing incredibly difficult times. You are in our hearts and in our lives forever.”
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