Touched by an Angel star Delloreese Patricia Early “Della” Reese has earned her wings. The beloved actress has passed away on Sunday evening, Nov. 19, 2017. While many of us know Reese for her work on screen, the Detroit native actually started entertainer at the tender age of six years old as a singer at Olivet Baptist Church. When she reached age 13, she toured with “Queen of Gospel” Mahalia Jackson – who’s most famous for singing “Take My Hand, Precious Lord” at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s funeral and “How I Got Over” at the 1963 March on Washington).
She’s credited as the first gospel singer in Sin City because she sang with her group, the Meditation Singers, at the Las Vegas casino.
She hosted an eponymous variety show, Della, becoming the first Black woman to co-host “The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.”
An ordained minister, she founded her own church, Understanding Principles for Better Living aka “UP Church”.
After two appearances on the television show “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” in 2014, she retired from acting. She was plagued with a variety of health problems, including diabetes.
She died peacefully in her home in Los Angeles.
In a statement to People magazine, her co-star on “Touched by an Angel” Roma Downey shares, “On behalf of her husband, Franklin Lett, and all her friends and family, I share with you the news that our beloved Della Reese has passed away peacefully at her California home last evening surrounded by love. She was an incredible Wife, Mother, Grandmother, friend, and Pastor, as well as an award-winning actress and singer. Through her life and work, she touched and inspired the lives of millions of people. She was a mother to me and I had the privilege of working with her side by side for so many years on ‘Touched by an Angel.’ I know heaven has a brand new angel this day. Della Reese will be forever in our hearts. Rest In Peace, sweet angel. We love you.” Reese performed Downey’s wedding ceremony.
She leaves to cherish her memory her husband, Franklin Lett, three of four children: James, Franklin and Dominique. Her daughter Deloreese preceded her in death.