Angélil in 2009
January 16, 1942|
Montréal, Québec, Canada
|Died||January 14, 2016
Henderson, Nevada, United States
|Cause of death||Throat cancer|
|Occupation||Singer, manager, director|
René Angélil, CM, OQ (French pronunciation: [ʁəˈne ɑ̃ʒeˈlil]; January 16, 1942 – January 14, 2016) was a Canadian musical producer, talent manager and singer. He was the manager (1981–2014) and husband (1994–his death in 2016) of singer Celine Dion.
Angélil was born in Montreal, Québec, Canada, of a father of Syrian descent and a Canadian mother of Lebanese origin. His father, Joseph Angélil, was born in Montreal to parents from Damascus, Syria, and his mother, Alice Sara, was born in Montreal to Lebanese parents. Both of his parents were members of the Melkite Greek Catholic Church. Angélil studied at College Saint-Viateur (high school), in Outremont and at College André-Grasset (post secondary), in Montreal.
Angélil started out in 1961 as a pop singer in Montréal. He formed a pop rock group, "Les Baronets", with childhood friends Pierre Labelle and Jean Beaulne. Les Baronets had some hits during the 1960s, mostly translations of English-language pop hits from the United Kingdom or the United States, such as "C'est fou, mais c'est tout" in 1964 (a translation of The Beatles' song "Hold Me Tight"). After the dissolution of the group in 1972, Angélil and best friend Guy Cloutier began managing artists.
Together they managed the career of two successful Québec entertainers René Simard and Ginette Reno, among many other pop stars at the time. They parted ways in 1981 to each become solo managers. In 1981 (not long after being terminated as Ginette's manager, ) René heard Céline Dion's demo tape when he was considered as a potential producer for her album. He soon took over as her agent. He continued as her manager until June 2014, when he had to step down due to his battle with cancer.
In 1966, Angélil married his first wife, Denyse Duquette. They had a son, Patrick (born 1968), and divorced in 1972. In 1974, he married singer Manon Kirouac (aka Anne Renée)—the couple had two children, Jean Pierre (born 1974) and Anne Marie Angélil (born 1977), they divorced in 1988.
Angélil, a well-known former singer-turned-manager, was sent a tape of then 12-year-old singer Céline Dion, and invited her to audition in Quebec. He began managing her career, taking the teen and her mother on tour in Canada, Japan, and Europe. He mortgaged his house to finance her first album in 1981. René and Céline began a personal relationship when she was 18, they married on December 17, 1994, in a lavish wedding ceremony at Montreal's Notre-Dame Basilica, which was broadcast live on Canadian television.
The couple had difficulty conceiving, resorting to in vitro fertilization. Their efforts were extensively publicized. Their son, René-Charles Angélil, was born in 2001. Céline suffered a miscarriage in 2009, then gave birth to twin boys in October 2010. The boys were named Eddy, after Eddy Marnay, who produced Dion's first five albums, and Nelson Angélil, after former South African president Nelson Mandela.
The couple became cultural icons. Those who knew them for a long time have said that "backstage, out of the eye of the general public, they were the kindest, most down-to-earth, superstars that I've ever known in my entire career."
Angélil was accused by Yun Kyeong Kwon Sung of sexual assault. The alleged incident took place in 2000 in a Las Vegas hotel and was investigated by police. Angélil eventually paid $2 million to settle the case, though never admitted wrongdoing. He said that the settlement was paid to avoid negative publicity that might upset Dion. Yun and her husband, Ae Ho Kwon, were arrested in 2003 and charged with trying to extort money from Angélil over a false claim of rape. The couple were convicted in 2005.
In 2001 Angélil and Dion filed a $5 million defamation lawsuit against the Quebec tabloid Allô Vedettes, which claimed that the couple paid $5,000 to rent the swimming pool of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas so that Dion could sunbathe topless and Angélil could go skinny dipping. The couple strenuously denied the claim.
Angélil was an avid poker player, having qualified for the 2005 World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions, and finishing in the money at the 2007 Mirage Poker Showdown event on the World Poker Tour, a series of high-stakes tournaments. Angélil was also rumoured to be a dedicated gambler away from the poker table. He reportedly gambled upwards of $1 million a week at Caesars Palace, and kept a line of credit for the same amount at Bellagio. In 2007 Jan Jones, a casino executive and the former mayor of Las Vegas, claimed that Angélil gambled $1 million a week, but later retracted the statement. Caesars Palace later released a statement of Angélil's gambling losses and wins with his permission.
Later life, illness and death
Angélil suffered a heart attack in 1991 at age 49. In 1999 he was diagnosed with throat cancer and made a full recovery after treatment. He appeared in the video for Simple Plan's song "Save You" as a survivor of cancer. In 2009, Angélil reportedly underwent a heart-related medical procedure to deal with arterial blockage. The procedure had been planned for months and was not heart surgery.
Angélil had surgery in December 2013 for throat cancer. In June 2014 Angélil stepped down as Dion's manager to focus on his health, but was still involved in business decisions related to her career. In September 2015 Dion announced that Angélil's cancer had progressed and that he had only "months to live". Angélil died on January 14, 2016, two days before his 74th birthday and the death of his own brother-in-law, Daniel Dion. He received a national funeral service at Notre-Dame Basilica (Montreal) from the government of Quebec on January 22. Angélil was survived by his wife, six children, and seven grandchildren.
Legacy and honors
- 1987 and 1988: Félix Award for Manager of the Year.
- July 2013: Awarded the Order of Canada.
- January 22, 2016: Canadian flags flew at half-mast on all government buildings in his memoriam and national funeral service in Notre-Dame Basilica (Montreal)
- February 15, 2016: Honored by Grammy Award during its annual "In Memoriam" tribute.
Representation in other media
- In July 2008, Angélil was named the fictional principal for the reality television show Star Académie's fourth season in 2009. He filled the principal role in the show's two separate runs in 2009 and 2012.
- Angélil was portrayed by actor Enrico Colantoni in a 2008 television biopic of Dion, Céline.
- Shepherd, Harvey (July 21, 2001). "Celine's son a Greek Melkite like any other: Rene-Charles to receive a combined baptism, first communion, confirmation in Catholic ceremony". The Gazette (Montreal, Quebec). pp. A6.
- À voir à la télévision le samedi 24 mars - Carré d'as "Né dans le quartier Villeray à Montréal d'un père d'origine syrienne et d'une mère québécoise d'origine libanaise, le jeune Angelil était un leader"
- "René Angélil: Not just a manager of Céline Dion - Montreal - CBC News". cbc.ca. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
- "René Angélil: The man behind Céline Dion - The Globe and Mail". theglobeandmail.com. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
- "Celine Dion's Husband Rene Angelil Quits As Her Manager". huffingtonpost.ca. Retrieved January 23, 2016.
- "A Beautiful Love: Celine Dion and René Angélil Through the Years". Good Housekeeping. January 14, 2016. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
- Jessica Derschowitz (October 29, 2010). "Celine Dion's Twins Named Nelson and Eddy". CBS News. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
- Fleury, Theo; Kirstie McLellan Day (2009). Playing With Fire. HarperCollins. p. 217. ISBN 978-1-55468-239-3.
- "Rape Charge Dropped for Dion's Husband". IMDb.com. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
- Ha, Tu Thanh (August 21, 2001). "Dion sues paper over 'outrageous' topless story". theglobeandmail.com.
- NickMathiason (January 28, 2007). "Queen of Las Vegas brings her winning streak to Britain | Business | The Observer". London: Observer.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
- "Ramblin' Gamblin' Man: Rene Angélil". Vegasblog.latimes.com. February 8, 2007. Retrieved May 5, 2011.
- "Casino denies Dion husband losses". BBC News Online. February 2, 2007. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
- "Celine Dion's Husband Rene Angelil Has Been Fighting Cancer, Heart Problems For Over 20 Years". Huffingtonpost.ca. August 13, 2014. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
- "Celine Dion's 'spirituality' has helped her be strong for her husband". The Record. August 4, 2010. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
- Video on YouTube
- "Dion's husband OK after heart work | Las Vegas Review-Journal". Reviewjournal.com. May 15, 2009. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
- Duke, Alan (August 14, 2014). "Celine Dion cancels shows as husband fights cancer". CNN.com. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
- Vlessing, Etan (December 6, 2014). "Celine Dion Has New Manager as Rene Angelil Steps Down". Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
- "Celine Dion: Husband Rene Angelil Has Only Weeks to Live : News". Realty Today. September 7, 2015. Retrieved December 27, 2015.
- "René Angélil remembered at national funeral in Montreal - Montreal - CBC News". cbc.ca. Retrieved January 30, 2016.
- "Celine Dion's Husband Has Lost A 'Courageous' Battle With Cancer". Smooth. January 14, 2016. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
- "Rene Angelil Dies at 73". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 14, 2016.
- "Rene Angelil, Celine Dion's Husband and Former Manager, Dies at 73". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
- "Céline Dion Bids Farewell to Husband René Angélil at Montreal Funeral". People Magazine. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
- "Céline Dion's Late Husband René Angélil Honored During Grammys 'In Memoriam' Reel as 'My Heart Will Go On' Plays". People Magazine. Retrieved February 16, 2016.
- René Angélil prend la tête de l'académie, LCN, July 29, 2008
- "WEtv movie Celine". IMDb.com. Retrieved December 27, 2015.