René Angélil died on Thursday night at the age of 73 after a long battle with throat cancer. Us Weekly reports that his wife, Celine Dion, posted a touching tribute to him on Facebook.
René Angélil was both Dion’s manager and her husband, but he was so much more than that. Here are ten little-known facts about René Angélil.
1. René Angélil played poker professionally. Heavy reports that Angélil had even qualified for the World Series of Poker Tournament of Champions.
RIP Rene Angelil. Good poker player, sang Elvis beautifully, member Baronets rock band and husband of Celine Dion pic.twitter.com/znoOVMkU4O
— phil_hellmuth (@phil_hellmuth) January 15, 2016
2. She Knows reports that René Angélil met Celine Dion when she was just 12 years old and he was 38. He was 26 years older than she and the couple married in 1994.
Céline Dion will always have the memories of her romantic Montreal wedding to René Angélil https://t.co/LsQ1RLP6sX pic.twitter.com/xs2kiNvcmU
— People Magazine (@people) January 15, 2016
3. René Angélil took out a second mortgage on his house in order to produce Dion’s first album. It was a huge risk that paid off when the album sold 100,000 copies. Dion was only 12 at the time the album was released.
— Celine Dion Web (@CelineDionWeb) November 10, 2014
4. The net worth of René Angélil was $400 million. When paired with the net worth of Dion, $630 million, the couple’s combined net worth is through the roof.
5. Being a father of six children, across three marriages, kept René Angélil busy. He had three children with Dion, including René-Charles (15) and twins Nelson and Eddy (5).
— Simone Candy (@EarCandy123) January 15, 2016
6. CBC reports that in the 1960s, René Angélil was actually the singer of a band called Les Baronets.
CBC arts columnist Brendan Kelly explained.
“He had quite a life in the ’60s. He was in a group called Les Baronets, where he would take British Invasion songs and Beatles songs and make them in French.”
7. René Angélil was the co-owner of the famous Schwartz’s Deli in Montreal. He bought into the restaurant because it means so much to him.
“I have so many great memories of being there with the guys and with Céline and our families throughout the years. It’s the most unique restaurant in the world, and we’re thrilled to be a part of it.”
8. René Angélil didn’t just manage Dion’s music career; he also was instrumental in other artists becoming discovered. These artists include The Lost Fingers (a jazz group) and Jonathan Roy, the son of the hockey player Patrick Roy.
9. René Angélil was the director of a talent show in Quebec called Star Académie. This show was similar to American Idol.
— Photos Histoires (@PhotosHistos) January 15, 2016
10. Celine Dion told USA Today in an interview that the final wish of René Angélil was to die in her arms.
“I’ll say, ‘You’re scared? I understand. Talk to me about it.’And René says to me, ‘I want to die in your arms.’ OK, fine, I’ll be there, you’ll die in my arms.'”
René Angélil was truly an exceptional music manager, man, and husband. Dion has expressed how much Angélil gave her and how hard a journey this has been for her.
“But René really gave me a gift. All my grieving, it was during this last year. I think I’ve got this. For now. When it hits me, it’s going to hit me. But my biggest job is to tell my husband, we’re fine. I’ll take care of our kids. You’ll watch us from another spot.”
Rest in Peace, René Angélil.
[Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]