“He’s as alive as he was before,” the Grammy winner told Australian TV show The Project in 2018. “Not physically with us, but I live with him — I see him every day through the eyes of my children.”
The “Because You Loved Me” artist met Angélil in 1980 when she was 12 years old and he was 38. At the time, the producer was married to Canadian pop star Anne Renée, with whom he shared son Jean-Pierre and daughter Anne-Marie. (He also shared son Patrick with first wife Denyse Duquette.)
Angélil decide to manage Dion’s career after her brother Jacques sent him a demo tape of her debut single, “Ce n’était qu’un rêve.” He mortgaged his house to fund her first album, La Voix du Bon Dieu, which made her an instant star in her native Canada.
In her 2000 memoir, My Story, My Dream, Dion said that her relationship with Angélil — who divorced Renée in 1985 — turned romantic in 1988 after she won the Eurovision Song Contest at age 20. “I threw myself into his arms,” she wrote. “Later that night, I was seated at the head of the bed, legs folded under the covers. I was happy about being alone with the man I loved.”
While Angélil continued managing Dion’s career, the pair kept their relationship hidden from the public until November 1993 — at which point they’d already been engaged for more than one year. The “My Heart Will Go On” singer later revealed that her mother, Thérèse Dion, initially didn’t approve of her romance with Angélil, who was 26 years her senior.
“It was very difficult for her,” the pop icon told Access Hollywood in 2013. “When I told her I had some really strong feelings for René, she tried everything to … make me snap out of it. I was very frustrated and mad at first, but she tried to make me understand that this man tried marriage twice before, he has three children, he’s not responsible.”
Eventually, Thérèse — who died in 2020 at age 92 — came around. “My whole family was in love, with him and she had no choice,” Celine recalled.
Celine and Angélil tied the knot in 1994, later welcoming son René-Charles in 2001 and twins Eddy and Nelson in 2010. Angélil continued managing his wife’s career until 2014 when he retired following his diagnosis with throat cancer.
The talent manager died at age 73 in January 2016, two days before his birthday. “He will be remembered as a gentle man, generous and kind, an unprecedented visionary, a modern Pygmalion, a renaissance man,” Celine wrote of her husband in a statement shared via social media at the time. “All who had the privilege of knowing him and of working closely with him, whether personally or professionally, salute a leader and a man of great intelligence and wisdom.”
Keep scrolling for Celine and Angélil’s complete relationship timeline: