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René Angélil (1942 - 2016)

Photo Courtesy of René Angélil's Family

René Angélil (1942 - 2016)

René Angélil, the husband and former manager of singer Celine Dion, has died from cancer at the age of 73.

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 A singer himself, Angélil was born Jan. 16, 1942, in Montreal, Quebec. As a young man in the 1960s, he co-founded a singing group, the Baronets, with friends, offering French-language covers of popular songs. Later, he turned to talent management, with pre-Dion clients including Rene Simard and Ginette Reno.

He met his future wife in 1980, when Dion, who was 12 at the time, recorded a demo that found its way to Angélil. He heard great potential in her voice and became determined to make her a star. He famously mortgaged his home to finance her debut album, "La Voix du bon Dieu." The French-language album did well locally in Quebec, setting Dion on track toward international success.

In the 1990s, an all-grown-up Dion and Angélil began a romantic relationship, marrying in 1996. Their apprehension that fans might not react well to the relationship proved unfounded, as fans embraced the couple. Angélil continued to manage Dion's career successfully for many years, prompting her to reflect, in an interview with Paris Match, "It's due to hard work and Rene's intelligence that we are here today."

Angélil stepped down from management duties in 2014 in order to focus on his health, having undergone surgeries for throat cancer in 1998 and 2013, as well as having a heart attack in 1992 and other heart-related problems.

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Angélil was known as an avid card player, spending time at Las Vegas casinos and qualifying for the 2005 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions and other major tournaments.

In addition to Dion, Angélil is survived by the couple's three children – René-Charles, 14, and 5-year-old twins Nelson and Eddy – and his adult children from previous relationships, Patrick, Jean-Pierre and Anne-Marie.

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