Things You Never Knew About Celine Dion

We know: You've heard Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" about a zillion times, so maybe you're a little tired of the Titanic ballad, but how well do you really know the Grammy-winning artist behind the hit song?

Dion is fashionable — remember her iconic backwards tuxedo look at the Oscars or that time she was moved to tears by a runway show? Then there was that slinky black number (pictured above) — more on that in a minute. She's also hilarious. On top of that, Dion has become a Las Vegas icon who paved the way for other stars to set up shop in Sin City and single-handedly created an economic boost that went on and on. And, yes, there's that voice, the one that's been credited with influencing everyone from Vanessa Hudgens and Lea Michele to famous impersonator Ariana Grande. 

Now, let's get to know more about the woman behind those powerhouse pipes — because as it turns out, she's even cooler than you thought. (Just ask Ryan Reynolds.)

She didn't want to sing 'My Heart Will Go On'

Celine Dion initially loathed "My Heart Will Go On," which went on to become her biggest hit, winning an Oscar and several Grammys for the Titanic soundtrack. 

"I was in a suite with a piano at Caesars Palace. [Songwriter James Horner] started to play the song. With all the respect that I have for James ... he is not the greatest singer," Dion recalled in an interview with Billboard. Her husband, Rene Angelil, suggested Dion make a demo, but she wasn't sold on that idea. "I wanted to choke my husband. Because I didn't want to do it!" She'd recently produced two successful tunes for movie soundtracks ("Because You Loved Me" and "Beauty and the Beast") and didn't want to push her luck.

Angelil convinced Dion to record the demo anyway, and that was that — literally. "The demo is actually the real recording, I never sang the song again," she told The Jonathan Ross Show. "Except three million times after that live." Dion admitted that she does tire of performing the tune, but "it's a good problem to have," particularly when she sees emotional faces in the audience. "But when I die, please don't play the song."

Can you believe some folks doubted her chops?

It seems crazy today that anyone could question Celine Dion's ability to make good music for a movie, but there was a time when folks had their doubts. 

Songwriter Will Jennings revealed to Songfacts that Dion wanted to perform the song "Dreams to Dream" for the animated 1991 film An American Tail: Fievel Goes West, but Linda Ronstadt got the part instead. That arguably makes sense, considering Ronstadt performed "Somewhere Out There" with James Ingram for the original 1986 flick, An American Tail. But get this: When it came time to record "Beauty and the Beast," there was reportedly a big debate about whether Dion could got the job done for Disney's animated film. In the words of Entertainment Weekly: "Dion was very young and had basically just learned English; hiring her to sing 'Beauty and the Beast' in 1991 is the equivalent of investing heavy in Google in, well, 1991." Dion's duet partner, Peabo Bryson, was considered the marquee name on the track. 

That musical number won the 1992 Oscar for best original song and earned Dion her first Grammy Award, so yes, that's a good return on investment.

Oscar is her middle name

Okay, she was born Celine Marie Claudette Dion, but her name may as well be "Oscar" because when it comes to performing at the Academy Awards, she's in a league of her own. Dion performed at the Oscars for the first time in 1992, singing "Beauty and the Beast" with Peabo Bryson and Angela Lansbury. She sang "Smile" during the show's "In Memoriam" segment in 2011, and she and legendary Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli performed her single "The Prayer" in 1999. Who can forget when she performed her own Oscar-nominated song, "My Heart Will Go On," in 1998 while rocking the famous heart-shaped diamond necklace from the film? 

According to her website, Dion has "nerves of steel," which she demonstrated in 1997, when she "became the first artist to perform two songs during the Oscars." She sang "Because You Loved Me" from the movie Up Close and Personal, and when Natalie Cole got the flu, Dion stepped up "with just one day's notice" to perform "I Finally Found Someone" off the soundtrack of The Mirror Has Two Faces.

That time a Canadian won Eurovision

Dion represented Switzerland in Europe's annual Eurovision Song Contest in 1988. The Canadian crooner won the competition for the Swiss thanks to a mid-tempo French song called "Ne Partez Pas Sans Moi" ("Don't Leave Without Me"). That international victory put her on the path to becoming one of the world's biggest recording artists. A year later, she opened the 1989 Eurovision contest with a performance of her single "Where Does My Heart Beat Now."

Dion recalled that experience on The Jonathan Ross Show. "It was a very strange adventure for me," she said. "...I received a call. I was in Montreal, where I live, and they want me to go to Ireland, and they want me to represent Switzerland as a French-Canadian Quebecoise ... I didn't get it. So I'm like, what about people in Switzerland? What are they gonna think? 'Where's she coming from? We don't even know her!'" She also quipped that she "felt like a horse" because people could bet on Eurovision contestants. Needless to say, the Swiss people were certainly pleased with their recruit. "They gave me a lot of chocolate."

She's crazy about golf

Celine Dion has been an avid golf-lover for years. In fact, she loves the sport so much, she owns her own course — Club de Golf le Mirage in Terrebonne, Quebec. According to the Montreal Gazette, visitors tend to call it "Golf Le Mirage (Golf a Celine Dion)" on social media. Her $72.5 million estate in Florida also included a simulated golf range as one of its many perks. 

It sounds like Dion is pretty good at the game and a good sport! According to Bleacher Report, she boasts a golf handicap of 17 and once jumped into a pond with Australian pro golfer Karrie Webb at a tournament in 2000. She even has a personalized golf cart, because of course she does. The singer actually poked fun at her hobby with a golf commercial on Rosie, which has been immortalized on YouTube. Enjoy.

She met her husband when she was 12

Celine Dion was just 12 years old when she met Rene Angelil, her manager who'd later become her husband. He was about 26 years her senior. However, she insists that it wasn't until she was "17, 18 that [she] saw him differently" and that they didn't begin dating until she was 19.

Dion told Access Hollywood (via The Huffington Post) that her mother was furious about the relationship, in part because Angelil had been married twice before and already had three kids. "It was very difficult for her," Dion said. "When I told her I had some really strong feelings for Rene she tried everything to kill him and make me snap out of it. I was very frustrated and mad at first ... She said, 'You're my daughter, you're my baby and I want the perfect Prince Charming for you.' And then it was so strong that my whole family was in love with him and she had no choice."

Celine Dion and Rene Angelil wed in 1994 and had three sons together: René-Charles and twins Nelson and Eddy, reported People. They were married until Angelil's death from throat cancer in 2016. "I still talk to him," she said (via the Daily Mail) in 2018. "I'm trying to prove to him every day I'm fine. Our kids are growing, we feel strong. We're good."

She had an actual waterpark at her house

You know what selling more than 240 million records worldwide gets you? It gets you a mansion, and if you're Celine Dion, it gets you a mansion with amenities that are so exciting we can't imagine why anyone would ever want to leave?

Dion sold a beachfront property in Jupiter Island, Fla. for a cool $38.5 million in 2017 (The original asking price was $72.5 mil!), reported the Daily Mail. It was a bargain when you consider what this bad boy boasts: 11,000 square feet on 5.5 acres with 13 bedrooms, 14 full bathrooms, a stretch of private beach, five pavilions, a golf simulator, theater, a pool house with a full kitchen, and a water park (complete with slides and a lazy river.) When asked about that water park on The Jonathan Ross Show, Dion cracked: "Well, why not? Some people do drugs and go out every weekend, I build a water park."

She stimulated the entire Las Vegas economy

Celine Dion was dubbed the "messiah" of Las Vegas for helping the city dig out of dire straits. "She's been called a 'one-woman economic stimulus package' and I think there's a lot of truth to that," Stephen Brown, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research in Las Vegas, told The Telegraph. "People will come to the city just for her and they will spend money and as a consequence, she has an outsized impact on the economy." He says Dion is "bigger than Elvis, Sinatra and Liberace put together." She reportedly sold out every show during her first Vegas residence from 2003 to 2007, and during her second residency from 2011 to 2014, Brown estimated that she'd create $114 million worth of new economic activity, including up to 7,000 jobs. 

And when it comes to highest-grossing residencies, Billboard reported that Dion "tops the list and is her own runner-up as the queen of Sin City." We're talking about more than 4.3 million tickets sold across more than 1,000 shows to the tune of more than $630 million. All that, and yet Dion has been modest about her impact on Vegas. "I want people to come and not feel disappointed. That's my most important job," she said (via The Telegraph). "I personally don't think I have anything to do with the economy." 

She announced that her residency would end in June 2019, so let's hope the city has prepared for a potential Dion downturn.

Meat Loaf claims one of her biggest hits belonged to him

In the 1980s, songwriter Jim Steinman penned "It's All Coming Back to Me Now," an epic power ballad supposedly inspired by Wuthering Heights. According to CBC Music, singer Meat Loaf, a frequent Steinman collaborator, really wanted to perform and record that track, but Steinman thought a woman needed to sing it. He gave it to a girl group called Pandora's Box, but it wasn't a hit. (If you sit through the group's bizarre, NSFW video, you'll understand why.) Years later, Celine Dion recorded the song for her 1996 album Falling Into You. This time, the song peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard charts.

However, before Dion got her pipes on that track, Steinman had reportedly promised it to Meat Loaf, who wanted it for his album Bat Out of Hell II. "That was my song," Meat Loaf told Billboard. "I wanted to record it for Bat II and Jim said, 'Let's wait for Bat III,' and I took him at his word. The next you know, Celine Dion is recording it."

All's well that ends well, we suppose. Meat Loaf finally got a chance to release "It's All Coming Back to Me Now" in 2006 as a duet with Marion Raven. Meat Loaf's associated album peaked at No. 8 on Billboard's charts, but alas, his hard-fought rendition didn't make it on the Top 100.

Her 'best friend' is a real hunk

In early 2019, there were rumblings that Celine Dion had moved on following the 2016 death of her husband with her dancer, Pepe Munoz. They'd been spotted together numerous times from 2017 to 2019, even holding hands in public — yet Dion denied any romance with the much-younger man. "I am single," she insisted to The Sun. "The press said, 'Oh my God, Rene just passed and now there's another man.' Yeah, there's another man in my life but not the man in my life." Dion said she and Munoz "bonded right away as friends, we had a good time. It evolved."

Though Munoz isn't the man in her life, he is there for her in a lot ways, helping to physically train and style the singer and providing companionship in what she swears is a purely platonic way. "We're friends, we're best friends," she said. "Of course we hug and hold hands and go out, so people see that. I mean, he's a gentleman. He's giving me his hand to go out." As for the romance rumors? She quipped: "I don't mind because he's handsome and he's my best friend."

She doesn't take herself too seriously

Celine Dion's involvement with the Deadpool 2 soundtrack came as a bit of a surprise to everyone — including the movie's star, Ryan Reynolds. Dion was reportedly 100 percent down for the music video for "Ashes," which features Reynolds — in character as the infamous Merc with A Mouth — channeling his inner Flashdance as Dion belts out the ballad. Director David Leitch told Entertainment Weekly that Dion "understood what we were trying to do. And yeah, it was fun, and there might be some slight satire to it, but the song is a really emotional song, and we needed it to land in a genuine way for the movie, first and foremost."  

Reynolds, a fellow Canuck, said he wrote Dion's manager a long letter begging the singer to work with them. He was pleasantly surprised when "two hours later," Dion agreed. (One of her kids is supposedly a Deadpool fan, so that probably helped.) They filmed the video on the stage where she performs her Las Vegas residency. Reynolds claims "the oxygen was set to like, 150 percent, so we were just laughing the whole time ... That was probably one of the most fun days I've ever had on a film set."

She's getting a biopic (sort of)

Aside from her work with Deadpool 2, Dion will soon get a movie of her own. According to Variety, the "queen" is the subject of a film titled The Power of Love – named after one of Dion's greatest hits. French studio Gaumont claimed the project would be a "fictional homage" but not an actual biopic. The move will reportedly star actress Valerie Lemercier as "Aline," a young girl from a large family — much like Dion — who is discovered as a teenager, becomes a world-renowned vocalist, and eventually endures the death of her beloved husband. Some character names and details of Dion's life will be changed for the screenplay. Shooting is scheduled to begin in March 2019 in Canada, France, Las Vegas, and Spain, and the movie is aiming for a Dec. 3, 2020 release date.

She's thin, and she doesn't care if you approve

Celine Dion has loved high fashion for years, but the press has been studying the singer's style choices closely of late. "It's like I'm having a second wind — 50 has been great for me," she told The Sun. The songstress has been turning heads in outfits that appear decidedly more risky and more risqué than her past styles. Hello Daisy Dukes and slits up to there! The Cut dubbed this new and exciting era the "Céline Dionaissance," but it has not been void of controversy.

During Paris Fashion Week in 2019, Dion wore the dazzling gown pictured above, and were it not for her close pal Pepe Muñoz, she might have bared even more than intended. "As the two sat to be photographed before the show started, the dancer leaned over to pull the center slit of her dress in. Crisis averted!" reported Us Weekly. Dion also caught a lot of flak for her very slim figure, with some fans expressing concern about her weight and health, but Dion is having none of it!

"I'm doing this for me." she told The Sun. "I want to feel strong, beautiful, feminine and sexy." She didn't ask for your opinion. "If I like it, I don't want to talk about it," she said. "...If you don't, leave me alone."