Star of Screen, Television, and Recording Artist Della Reese Dead At 86

Della Reese

She was born Delloreese Patricia Early on July 6, 1931, in Detroit, Michigan. She began singing in church when she was 6-years old.  By her teens, she was working as a singer in gospel luminary Mahalia Jackson’s unit.

After graduating from Detroit’s Cass Technical High School, she briefly attended Wayne State University, but soon moved into music professionally, taking Della Reese as her professional name.

Della Reese was the first Black woman to host her own talk show, which was launched in 1969 and called “Della”.

Della Reese got her first acting break from casting director Reuben Cannon, who offered her a guest shot on the cop show “The Mod Squad” in 1968.  She also appeared in roles on “Police Woman,” “The Rookies,” “McCloud” Chico and the Man,” Welcome Back Kotter,” and “The A-Team.” 

Della Reese

It was Della’s role in “Touched by an Angel” that cemented her TV stardom and exposed her to a new generation. . Della portrayed Tess, a Cadillac-driving supervising angel ministering to the spiritual needs of earthbound “search and rescue cases.” Reese also performed the show’s theme song, “Walk With You.”

Della survived serious health crises. In 1979, she suffered a brain aneurysm during a taping of “The Tonight Show,” and weathered two brain surgeries. She collapsed on the set of “Touched by an Angel” in 2002, and later announced she suffered from type 2 diabetes.

In 2014, Della announced her retirement and founded she returned to her religious roots as the founding pastor of her own Los Angeles-based church, Understanding Principles for Better Living (or “Up”), her Los Angeles base church in which she was pastor.

Della Reese is survived by her husband Franklin Lett, a film producer and concert promoter.


I enjoyed Della’s role in the movie Harlem Nights.  So many of the actors in that movie proceeded Della in transition; Red Foxx; Richard Pryor; Charlie Murphy; and Robin Harris.

Rest In Peace, Della.



Posted on 11/20/2017, in Black History Month, Potpourri and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. My favorite angel. Now she can sing in heaven. Rest in peace beautiful woman.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. Mr. Militant Negro

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Like

  4. yahtzeebutterfly

    Rest in peace Ms. Della Reese. You gave us so much with your singing and acting. You will be missed.

    From Touched by an Angel:

    “A real tearjerker. The “Greatest” stars with Della Reese – ‘Fighting the Good Fight’

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on It Is What It Is and commented:
    Rest in Peace … miss Della!! Now you are ‘touched by an Angel”!!

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Star of Screen, Television, and Recording Artist Della Reese Dead At 86 — We Hold These Truths To Be Self-Evident – The Blog of King-Galaxius

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