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LAS VEGAS, Jan 15, (Agencies): Rene Angelil, Celine Dion’s husband and manager, who molded her from a French-speaking Canadian ingénue into one of the world’s most successful singers, died Thursday after a long battle with throat cancer, offi cials and family members said. The 73-year-old Angelil died in the suburban Las Vegas home in Henderson he shared with Dion and their three children. Angelil died of natural causes under the care of a doctor, Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg said. No further investigation was expected. A post on Dion’s Facebook page said: “It is with deep sadness that we announce that René Angélil, aged 73, died this morning at her residence in Las Vegas after a long and courageous fi ght against cancer.
The family wishes to live the mourning in privacy.” US Sen Harry Reid of Nevada issued a statement saying he has always appreciated the couple’s support because they took a risk on Las Vegas when Dion began her residency in 2002 at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace. “As a result, we in Las Vegas feel Céline Dion is one of ours,” Reid said. “She has brought so much positive attention to our city. Her love affair with René and her family was something that was so admirable.” Calling Angelil an amazing showman and businessman, Caesars President Gary Selesner said it was impossible to overstate the impact he and Dion have had on the history of entertainment in Las Vegas and at Caesars Palace.
Dion’s shows on Saturday and Sunday were cancelled. Angelil was born in Montreal to a Canadian mother and Syrian father. He became the love of Dion’s life and the linchpin for her huge success, guiding her career for most of her life. Angelil was a former singer-turnedmanager when he received an audio tape of Dion, then 12, from her mother. “At that time I had been in the business for 20 years,” Angelil recalled in a 1991 interview with 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.” Dion has said he mortgaged his house to fi nance her fi rst album. In time, Dion’s voice would become one of the most popular in the world, recalling big-voiced singers such as Barbra Streisand and Whitney Houston. Initially, she sang only in her native French, and while she was a huge star in her native Quebec, it didn’t translate to widespread international success.
She had to learn English to gain success in the United States and other countries. By the late 1990s and 2000s, her soaring voice had become dominant on the radio. The theme from “Titanic,” the smash “My Heart Will Go On,” has been her defi ning hit, and she has had other hits that have sold millions of copies around the world. She and Angelil married in 1994 in an elaborate ceremony at Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal. He was constantly seen by her side. In 2000, he was at the center of a high-profi le extortion case. Court records indicate that Angelil agreed to pay Yun Kyeong Kwon Sung $2 million in “hush money” after she claimed he fondled her in an elevator of the Imperial Palace hotel-casino on the Las Vegas Strip.
Angelil’s lawyer revealed the terms of the confidential settlement to a grand jury that indicted Sung and her husband on charges of extortion and bribery. Angelil acknowledged no wrongdoing and was never charged. The Nevada Supreme Court in 2008 overturned the charges against Sung and her husband. Angelil told the Las Vegas Sun in 2003 that he paid the money because he was worried about his wife’s welfare as they struggled to conceive and that they didn’t “need the stress.” Dion was public about her diffi culty, revealing that she underwent procedures to eventually get pregnant with her children, Rene-Charles and twins Nelson and Eddy. Angelil also had a son and daughter from his previous two marriages. Angelil was fi rst diagnosed with skin cancer while they were trying to conceive their fi rst child. After he was born, and with Angelil on the mend, Dion retreated from touring and started the residency in Las Vegas so she could be more stable.
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Alan Rickman made wickedness delicious. Reviewing Rickman’s breakout role as a scheming hedonist aristocrat in the play “Les Liaisons Dangereuses,” Guardian newspaper critic Nicholas de Jongh likened the actor to “a cat who knows the way to the cream.” Rickman, who died of cancer Thursday aged 69, went on to become one of the great Hollywood villains of the last 30 years. With his rich, languid voice and subtly expressive face, Rickman could invest evil with irresistible relish. His performances helped elevate fi lms including “Die Hard” and “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” to the status of cult classics. “Nobody plays irony like Alan Rickman,” comedian Ruby Wax told the BBC on Thursday.
Emma Thompson, Rickman’s frequent co-star, said “I couldn’t wait to see what he was going to do with his face next.” As Hogwarts professor Severus Snape the “Harry Potter” saga, Rickman maintained the character’s core ambiguity — is he evil or his he good? — across eight fi lms. Potter star Daniel Radcliffe said Rickman was “undoubtedly one of the greatest actors I will ever work with.” Rickman was born to a workingclass London family on Feb 21, 1946, and studied art and worked as a graphic designer before auditioning successfully for the prestigious Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.
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British actor Brian Bedford died on Wednesday, after a two-year battle with cancer, in Santa Barbara, Calif. He was 80. Bedford, known most recently for his stint as Lady Bracknell in a 2011 Broadway revival of “The Importance of Being Ernest,” appeared in many productions on Broadway, winning the Tony for best actor in a play in 1971 for his performance in a revival of Moliere’s comedy “The School for Wives.” He was known for his interpretations of the French playwright’s work, and was also nominated for a Tony in 1995 for “The Moliere Comedies,” a pairing of the plays “The School for Husbands” and “The Imaginary Cuckold,” and in 2003 for his work in Moliere’s “Tartuffe.” He also appeared on Broadway in two revivals of the playwright’s “The Misanthrope,” in 1969 and 1983. But Bedford was also an extraordinary interpreter of Shakespeare who drew a 1994 Tony nomination for best actor in a play for a revival of “Timon of Athens.”