René Angélil, Husband of Singer Céline Dion, was of Syrian-Lebanese Heritage
BY: Arab America Staff
With the recent passing of Céline Dion’s husband and manager, René Angélil, it is notable that
he was the son of Arab immigrants. His father was of Syrian ancestry and his mother of Lebanese descent. His family’s religious roots were originally from the Melkite Rite, Eastern Catholic church.
Angélil’s Lebanese mother, Alice, a dressmaker, married his Syrian father, Joseph, and the couple had two children, René and André. Angélil grew up in a home where Arabic, English, and French were spoken.
Angélil discovered 12-year-old Céline Dion when a demo tape of her music was brought to his attention. He was so taken by the voice of the young Céline that he became determined to make her an internationally known talent, mortgaging his house to finance the recording of her debut album.
In 1994, he married Céline. He was 26 years her senior. They had three children: René-Charles Dion Angélil and twin boys, Eddy and Nelson. Angélil had three other children from two previous marriages.
Angélil and Dion became cultural icons. Those who knew them said that they were the kindest, most down-to-earth superstars.
Angélil was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1998 and made a full recovery. In 2013 he underwent further surgery for throat cancer.
In June 2014 Angélil stepped down as Dion’s manager to focus on his health, but was still involved in business decisions pertaining to her career.
He died on January 14, 2016, two days before his 74th birthday. He was survived by his wife, six children and seven grandchildren.