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Celine Dion’s husband, Rene Angelil has died at 73

Rene Angelil, the husband and longtime manager of singer Celine Dion has died after a long battle with cancer. He was 73.

According to the People.com: “Rene Angelil, 73, passed away this morning at his home in Las Vegas after a long and courageous battle against cancer,” the rep said in a statement. “The family requests that their privacy be respected at the moment.”

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The couple were married in 1994 in Montreal’s Notre Dame Basilica. They have three children, 14-year-old Rene Charles, and five-year-old twins Eddy and Nelson. Angelil has two children from previous marriages.

According to hollywoodreporter.com:

“Angelil, a Montreal native who had a career as a Canadian pop singer in the 1960s before turning to managing, discovered Quebec songstress Celine Dion­­­­­­ when she was 12 and went on to manage her thriving career and become her husband. … In August 2014, Dion, 47,­­­­­­ announced that she was postponing her career “indefinitely” to care for her husband. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1999 (Dion put aside her career then as well) and had surgery in December 2013 that removed part of his tongue and limited his speech.

“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 then. However, she returned to her residency at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Aug. 27, 2015, with performances currently scheduled through June 2016.”

Associated Press reported late today:

Angelil was born in Montreal to a Canadian mother and Syrian father. He became the love of Dion’s life and the linchpin for her huge success, guiding her career for most of her life.

Angelil was a former singer-turned-manager when he received an audio tape of Dion, then 12, from her mother.

“At that time I had been in the business for 20 years,” Angelil recalled in a 1991 interview with The Associated Press. “In those 20 years, I had never heard or had a feeling come out of someone like this little girl I had in front of me. I had shivers all over, you know.”

Dion has said he mortgaged his house to finance her first album. Initially, Dion sang only in her native French, and while she was a huge star in her native Quebec, it didn’t translate to widespread international success. She had to learn English to gain success in the United States and other countries.

In this May 22, 2008 file photo, Celine Dion arrives with her son Rene-Charles and her husband Rene Angelil, at the Elysee Palace to be awarded of the Legion d’Honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in Paris. | AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File
In this May 22, 2008 file photo, Celine Dion arrives with her son Rene-Charles and her husband Rene Angelil, at the Elysee Palace to be awarded of the Legion d’Honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in Paris. | AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File

By the late 1990s and 2000s, her soaring voice had become dominant on the radio.

Angelil was first diagnosed with skin cancer while they were trying to conceive their first child. After he was born, and with Angelil on the mend, Dion retreated from touring and started the residency in Las Vegas so she could be more stable.

Dion said Angelil had talked about dying and even discussed his funeral plans.

“I’ll say, ‘You’re scared? I understand. Talk to me about it.'” she told USA Today. “And René says to me, ‘I want to die in your arms.’ OK, fine, I’ll be there, you’ll die in my arms.”

Dion’s concerts this weekend at Caesars Palace were immediately cancelled. “My Heart Will Go On,” the love theme from the 1997 blockbuster film “Titanic” has been viewed more than nine million times on YouTube and remains her signature hit, its lyrics perhaps indicative of the love she and Angelil shared for 22 years.

Contributing: Associated Press