Celine Dion’s husband and manager René Angélil died at their Las Vegas home on Thursday just two days shy of his 74th birthday.
‘[He had] a long and courageous fight against cancer. The family wishes to live the mourning in privacy,’ read a statement on the singer’s Facebook page.
The 47-year-old pop diva and her beau – who battled throat cancer since 1998 – had just celebrated their 21st wedding anniversary on December 17.
The five-time Grammy winner was only 12 years old when twice-divorced René declared her a star and became her mentor/manager.
In 1981, he reportedly mortgaged his home to fund Celine’s first record La voix du bon Dieu and, by 1993, the French-Canadian couple went public with their romance.
Last March, a tearful Dion revealed her husband was no longer able to eat and was getting all of his meals through a tube.
‘He can’t use his mouth. He can’t eat so I feed him. He’s got a feeding tube. I have to feed him three times a day. I do this myself. So I feed my husband, then I feed my kids,’ Dion told Good Morning America.
By August, the Overjoyed hitmaker told USA Today that Angélil was preparing for his death.
Recalling their conversation, Celine said: ‘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.” Okay, fine, “I’ll be there, you’ll die in my arms.”‘
René leaves behind the couple’s fraternal twins Eddy and Nelson, 5, and son René-Charles Jr., 15.
Angélil also has a son Patrick, 47 (with ex-wife #1 Denyse Duquette), and a son Jean-Pierre, 41, and daughter Anne-Marie, 38 (with ex-wife #2 Manon Kirouac).
‘I’m trying really hard to show my children that sickness and things happen in life. You cannot be crying and be depressed and consistently talk about, “Oh my God!”‘ the Québec-born beauty told Us Weekly in August.
‘René-Charles is going to be 15 years old soon. He’s a wonderful young man. He’s entered his teenage years and sometimes we can go really crazy, for some teenagers, but so far so good.
‘I have tremendous respect for my oldest, René-Charles, because he’s showing strength to see his dad this way because he’s been his anchor. When he was younger he knew his dad was older but they bonded a lot. I’m sure it’s hard for him.’
Angélil was born in Montreal to a Canadian mother and Syrian father.
He played in the group Les Baronnets until 1972, when he began managing the careers of several singers in Quebec.
It has been confirmed that Dion will not be performing on Saturday for her Las Vegas residency at Caesars Palace’s Colosseum.
During her concert, Celine screens home movies in the background while belting The First Time I Ever I Saw Your Face.