René Angélil was a former Canadian pop singer who had turned to managing acts when in 1980 he received an audiotape of a 12-year-old singer from her mother.
“At that time I had been in the business for 20 years,” Mr. Angélil told 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.”
The singer was Céline Dion, and in time her sound would become one of the most popular in the world, recalling big-voiced singers such as Barbra Streisand and Whitney Houston. Dion has said that Mr. Angélil mortgaged his house to finance her first album. He was her manager for decades, and the two married in 1994 in an elaborate ceremony at Notre-Dame Basilica in Montreal.
Mr. Angélil, 73, died Jan. 14 in the home he shared with Dion and their three children in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson. The cause was throat cancer, Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg said.
René Angélil was born in Montreal on Jan. 16, 1942, to a Canadian mother and Syrian father. In the 1960s, he sang with a Quebec-based pop rock group, Les Baronets, that had several local French-language hits before he moved into management.
In the 1980s, he became the linchpin of Dion’s huge success, guiding her career for most of her life. He was constantly seen by her side.
Initially, Dion sang only in her native French, and while she was a huge star in her home city of Quebec, her success there did not translate to international acclaim. She had to learn English to gain success in the United States and other countries. In 1988, she won the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest.
By the late 1990s and in the 2000s, her soaring voice had become dominant on the radio. The theme from the film “Titanic,” the smash “My Heart Will Go On,” has been her defining hit, and other hits of hers have sold millions of copies globally.
Because of Mr. Angélil’s various health setbacks and his passion for gambling, he and Dion settled in Henderson, and she began a lucrative extended engagement at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Besides the three children he and Dion had, Mr. Angélil also had children from two previous marriages. Those earlier marriages, to Denyse Duquette and Manon Kirouac, a singer who went by Anne Renée, ended in divorce.
Dion said Mr. Angélil had talked about dying and even discussed 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.”