Della Reese, 'Touched By An Angel' Star and Singer, Dies at 86

Della Reese, 'Touched By An Angel' Star and Singer, Dies at 86

At the age of 6, Reese began singing at her local church.

The first season brought mediocre ratings, but slowly the show's audience grew until it became one of television's highest rated dramas. For nine years, we were privileged to have Della as part of the CBS family when she delivered encouragement and optimism to millions of viewers as Tess on Touched By an Angel. Outside of her lengthy resume including TV's Touched By An Angel, Della found herself on the set of 1996's Thin Line Between Love And Hate with Martin Lawrence.

The song Walk With You, which you can hear at the beginning of each episode, also belongs Delle.

Downey wrote in part, "Through her life and work she touched and inspired the lives of millions of people".

The popular tunes scored the singer three Grammy nominations over the years, with the most recent nod coming in 1998 for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album.

In 1969, she also started hosting her own TV show "Della", making her the first African-American woman to do so.

In 1979 she was taping a segment of "The Tonight Show" when, as she recalled later, "I hit a horrendous note- the flattest I've ever sung". It was after a Tonight Show appearance in 1979 that Reese suffered a brain aneurysm that almost claimed her life. Tess' playful sarcasm and no-nonsense attitude added something of a humorous edge to the wholesome show, and she became its most beloved character. She appeared in the 2005 movie "Beauty Shop" and had a prominent role in the 1989 film "Harlem Nights". She later landed her first co-starring role in the Freddie Prinze sitcom Chico and the Man, which she followed up with appearances on a bevy of hit series, such as The Love Boat, Night Court, MacGyver, Designing Women and L.A. Law, to name but a few.

She was an incredible wife, mother, grandmother, friend, and pastor, as well as an award-winning actress and singer. "To know Della is to know that she loves God", Downey said.


CBS said the network was "saddened" by her death.

After previous marriages ended, Reese was Wednesday to Franklin Lett, who became her manager and producer.

"I am completely devastated by the loss of Della Reese".

Reese never won a major award but she did accomplish something in her career that was the envy of many performers - longevity.

We at CinemaBlend send our thoughts and condolences to the family and friends (and former co-stars) of Della Reese in their time of mourning.

"I've had a hard climb, but I was meant to have longevity", she once said.

Reese is survived by her husband of 34 years, Franklin Lett, and children Deloreese, James, Franklin and Dominique.

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