René Angélil, husband of Céline Dion, has died; funeral announced

Story highlights

  • A public viewing is to be held Thursday, a public ceremony on February 3
  • Angélil died of throat cancer after a long battle
  • Dion put her career on hold to help him fight the disease

(CNN)Singer Celine Dion has shared funeral preparations for her late husband, René Angélil, who died Thursday. He is to be laid to rest this coming Friday.

In addition, a public visitation will be held a day before the funeral, and the family will host a public memorial for fans in Las Vegas on February 3, at Caesars Palace Colosseum.
Angélil, 73, passed away at his home in Las Vegas, on the eve of his birthday, after battling cancer, Dion's publicist said.
    An autopsy concluded the cause of death to be throat cancer.
    "He will be remembered as a gentle man, generous and kind, an unprecedented visionary, a modern Pygmalion, a Renaissance man," a distributed obituary read.

    Fighting illness together

    Angélil, Dion's longtime collaborator, stepped aside as his wife's manager in June 2014 because of his battle with cancer. That August, Dion put her career on a temporary hold to help him fight the disease.
    Dion and Angélil met after the always-singing 12-year-old Dion recorded a demo and one of her brothers sent it to Angélil, who was a fledgling producer at the time. When Angélil didn't reply, the Dions called him directly to have him listen to it.
    That prompted Angélil to audition Dion in January 1981, and once he heard her, he mortgaged his house to pay for her debut album, "La Voix du Bon Dieu."
    By 1988, she was a star -- and an adult. Dion won the top prize at the Eurovision song contest, held that year in Dublin, Ireland. That's when they fell in love, Angelil said on CNN's "Larry King Live."
    In 1992, "Celine Dion" hit the stores and produced four chart toppers, including a duet with Peabo Bryson for the Disney movie "Beauty and the Beast."
    "And that was our key to America, at that point, 'Beauty and the Beast' was our first real hit in America," Vito Luprano, then-senior vice president of artists and relations for Sony Music Canada, said at the time.
    The duet won an Academy Award and a Grammy. At the time, Dion was 24.

    Lavish wedding

    A lavish wedding, children, more hit records and the top hit, "My Heart Will Go On" for the movie "Titanic," followed. As did her current Las Vegas residency.
    One of Angélil's final wishes was that his funeral be held where he married Dion in Montreal, Canada, at the Notre-Dame Basilica.
    "He chose to marry the one who will remain as the great love of his life, the artist for which he had the most respect, the woman who gave him light and happiness until his very last breath," his obituary read.
    Angélil is survived by his wife, Dion, and the couple's three children, René-Charles, 14, and 5-year-old twins Nelson and Eddy -- and by his adult children from a previous relationship, Anne-Marie, Jean-Pierre and Patrick.