- Category: Entertainment
- Published Friday, January 15, 2016
- CTV News
When music manager Rene Angelil first heard a demo recorded on a cassette tape from then 12-year-old Celine Dion, he said he was moved to tears.
"It was so beautiful," Angelil told CTV’s W5 in 1997. "I had never heard anything like that."
The couple's decades-long relationship has been well-documented through the years, as Angelil moved from the role of Dion's mentor to the international pop star's husband and the father of her three children.
Angelil took Dion under his wing and mortgaged his home to finance her first album.
He was also the one who convinced Dion to learn English, and oversaw an image makeover for the budding pop when she was 18.
In 1990, Dion's first English-language album, Unison, established her as an international pop star, and it was around this time that the 20-year-old’s relationship with Angelil began to change.
"One day, I don't know, I became a grown-up child," Dion told W5. "And he was a free man, it was just different.
"I was not a child anymore," she added.
Angelil said his feelings began to turn from professional to personal a couple of years earlier, when he realized "I felt good when I was with Celine."
However, the couple’s 26-year age gap did cause some concern.
"I was afraid about what her parents would say," Angelil recalled. "Her family put their trust in me."
Dion said her mother, at first, was not happy about her relationship as Angelil had already been married twice and had three children.
The couple kept their relationship quiet until 1993, when Dion brought Angelil onto stage at Montreal's Metropolis and the two shared their first public kiss during a live broadcast.
The couple moved forward with their relationship, and in 1994 they were married in a lavish ceremony at Montreal's Notre Dame Basilica.
Some compared the elaborate affair to the royal nuptials of Prince Charles and Diana.
Dion wore a silk gown complete with a 20-foot train and a giant Swarovski-covered tiara that had to be sewn into her hair.
For those who knew the couple personally, the age difference was not an issue.
"It was never a factor when you were with them," Angelil's friend and veteran music writer Larry LeBlanc told CTV's Canada AM on Friday. "This is one of the great romances of all time."
Dion was open about her struggles to have a child and told W5 that she believed her stressful work schedule was getting in the wayof getting pregnant.
"If ever I get pregnant, if ever I have the chance of being pregnant, I'll stop," she said. "No doubt."
Following fertility treatments, Dion and Angelil welcomed their first child, René-Charles, in 2001 and twins Nelson and Eddy joined the family in 2010.
Angelil's health issues surfaced shortly after the two married.
In 1998 he was diagnosed with throat cancer, from which he made a full recovery.
The cancer resurfaced in 2013 for which Angelil underwent surgery and subsequently stepped down as Dion's manager. In August 2014, Dion announced she was putting her career on hold to focus on Angelil's health issues and cancelled her Las Vegas show.
"I want to devote every ounce of my strength and energy to my husband's healing, and to do so, it's important for me to dedicate this time to him and to our children," Dion said in a statement.
In an interview with USA Today about one year later, Dion revealed that Angelil had told her that he wants to die in her arms and had given her detailed instructions for his funeral.
"I'll say, 'You're scared? I understand. Talk to me about it.' And Rene says to me, 'I want to die in your arms.' Ok, fine, I'll be there, you'll die in my arms."
Dion said at the time that Angelil was passing along his strength to the chanteuse.
"He doesn't stop amazing me. When he talks to me, I take notes. This is his time ... and it's going to be the way he wants it to be."
In August 2015, Dion returned to the stage of the Colosseum in Las Vegas' Caesars Palace. She admitted at the time she wasn't sure if she was ready to return, but Angelil had encouraged her to do so.
"My three children and wonderful husband wanted me to be here," she said.
"I'm trying really hard to show my children that sickness and things happen in life and you cannot be crying and be depressed," the singer said.
In September 2015, Dion announced that Angelil's cancer was terminal and he only had months to live.
Angelil died on Thursday. He was 73.
Dion was never shy about sharing the feelings she had for Angelil.
"He's very sensitive and smart, and quick,” she said during the W5 interview, before turning to her husband.
“You're beautiful and passionate and we have the same dreams."