Near, far, wherever you are, you’ve probably heard Celine Dion make her way to the top of the charts with at least one of her hits. After all, she is one of the best-selling artists of all time. Dion’s tenure as the “Priestess of Pop” was not short, and she has the five Grammys and seven Billboard Music Awards to prove it. Aside from her ability to pull out “bell-jar-like high notes,” Dion had something else that was a bit of an anomaly in Hollywood — a decades-long marriage (we’re looking at you, Kim Kardashian). Celebrity couples come and go like Bam Margera in rehab, but the slow-burning love between Dion and her late husband, René Angélil, only seemed to get stronger with time.
Dion was devastated when her husband, 21, succumbed to complications from cancer in 2016, and explained (via Today) that she “lost the love of my life.” Her only consolation was that her husband, who had suffered from the disease for years, had finally found peace: “I can’t be selfish. You have to let people go.”
After her husband’s death, Dion revealed that Angélil was “the only man I kissed” and “the only man I loved,” leaving many fans wondering how the lovebirds met and how old Dion was , when it happened.
She met her husband surprisingly young
Celine Dion actually met René Angélil before she ever signed a record deal — and it was all by accident. You see, Dion had recorded her first song, Ce n’était qu’un rêve, and her brother sent a cassette of the recording to a music executive whose name he found on the back cover of an album by French-Canadian singer Ginette Reno. That music manager happened to be Angélil, who liked what he heard and invited Dion to audition for him in person.
“While I was singing, he started crying,” Dion told People of their first encounter, adding, “I knew I’d done a good job.” After experiencing the penetrating power of her voice for the first time, Angélil decided to take out a second mortgage on his house to fund Dion’s first record, according to SheKnows. She was 12 then; he was 38 years old. The two then entered into a professional relationship, and Angélil’s big gamble paid off: Dion’s first record, La voix du bon Dieu, sold 100,000 copies.
It was years before their relationship became romantic
The two worked closely together as Celine Dion’s star continued to rise, and soon the singer began to see René Angélil in a different light. “Maybe around the age of 17, 18 my feelings for him started to change. I kind of saw him differently,” she explained during an interview with Access to Hollywood. In her autobiography, Celine Dion: My Story, My Dream, the singer elaborated on those feelings: “I couldn’t hide from myself that I was in love with René; I had all the symptoms,” she wrote.
While they were at the 1988 Eurovision Song Contest in Dublin – which Dion won – their relationship turned romantic after Angélil kissed her for the first time. He apologized afterwards, but it was a fruitless gesture, as Dion later recalled: “I didn’t hear him, all I could hear was my knees tapping!”
For five years, the two hid their relationship out of fear that the public would find it inappropriate that Angélil was 26 years her senior – but love eventually won out. The two first publicly revealed their relationship in the liner notes of Dion’s The Color of My Love, and she announced their engagement at the album’s launch event.