updated 12/02/2003 AT 1:00 AM ET
•originally published 12/02/2003 AT 12:05 PM ET
Celine Dion has cancelled two shows in Las Vegas on Wednesday and Thursday to attend her father’s funeral in Montreal, reports the Associated Press.
A statement released by the family said that Adhemar Dion was surrounded by relatives at his home in Laval when he died on Sunday, at age 80. Celine Dion – at 35, the youngest of his 14 children – was in Las Vegas and not present at the time. The cause of death was not released.
Celine performed her Las Vegas extravaganza on Sunday night and expects to return for Friday’s performance, said Robert Stewart, spokesman for Caesars Palace, where Dion’s show, “A New Day,” has been running since March. Her three-year contract to do the show is reported to be earning her close to $100 million.
Dion’s husband (since 1994) and manager (since 1980), Rene Angelil, tells the Las Vegas Review-Journal that Adhemar Dion’s funeral was scheduled for Thursday.
Adhemar Dion and his wife, Therese Tanguay-Dion, were both musicians and often played weekend engagements at a cabaret they owned in Charlemagne. From the age of 5, Celine was brought to the club to sing along with her siblings.
Ian Halperin, author of an unauthorized biography, “Celine Dion: Behind the Fairy Tale,” tells the Canadian Press that Adhemar Dion was instrumental in his youngest daughter’s success.
“Sure, it was Rene Angelil who developed her into a star,” Halperin said. “But without her parents, especially her father, she wouldn’t have become a singing superstar.”
Adhemar Dion worked at a variety of blue-collar jobs as he struggled to support his young family before buying the inn in Charlemagne. AP reports that he worked 18-hour factory shifts in the early days to support his growing family, walking to work every day to save 40 cents.
Therese Tanguay-Dion, meanwhile, wrote the first song for Celine, which she recorded with a brother at age 12.