René Angélil and Celine Dion had one of the most solid marriages in show business, and the fiercely loyal couple loved and supported one another until the very end. After a long battle with recurring throat cancer, René passed away in the family's Las Vegas home on Jan. 14 at age 73.
Partners in all areas of their lives, the duo met in 1981 when René, then 38, became 12-year-old Celine's manager. He believed so strongly in the young French-Canadian's talent that he reportedly mortgaged his house to finance the recording of her debut album, La voix du bon Dieu.
"I needed her, and she needed someone like me," he once told Hello! "We found each other and we never let go."
The couple couldn't contain their romantic feelings for one another, eventually marrying in a lavish 1994 ceremony at the Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal, where Celine wore a glittering headpiece and throngs of fans turned up to celebrate the newlyweds. Five years later, they renewed their vows in Las Vegas at the Colosseum.
“It’s not like we have a recipe," Celine has said of their relationship. "People evolve. Life imposes things on you, challenges happen that might close you off and you have to readjust. But the main thing is communication.”
The "My Heart Will Go On" singer and her husband had three children, René-Charles, 14, and five-year-old twins, Nelson and Eddy, for whom Celine and René underwent very public and intense rounds of in vitro fertilization. "Instantly I would have died for him," René told Hello! of seeing baby René-Charles for the first time.
Through the ups and downs of their 21-year love story, including René's first bout of throat cancer in 1999 and Celine's hiatus from show business as his health deteriorated again in recent years, Canadian music's first couple were always keen to gush about one another and their family life. Their fierce bond was apparent until the very end, when Celine returned to Caesars Palace at her husband's behest, telling USA Today of her heartbreaking promise to him. "René says to me, 'I want to die in your arms.' OK, fine, I'll be there, you'll die in my arms."
As the world mourns the loss of one of music's most influential managers, we look back on the beautiful words René shared with Hello! about his beloved wife and their children.