Della Reese, 'Touched by an Angel' star dead at 86

By Wade Sheridan  |  Nov. 20, 2017 at 1:30 PM
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Nov. 20 (UPI) -- Touched by an Angel star and singer Della Reese has died at the age of 86.

Reese's Touch by an Angel costar Roma Downey and her family confirmed her death through a statement Monday to Entertainment Weekly.

"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," Downey said.

"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," she continued.

Reese starred on Touched by an Angel from 1994 to 2003 where she portrayed supervising angel Tess who would assign young angel Monica (Downey) different cases that involved helping people. She also had a recurring role on Promised Land, an Angel spin-off with Gerald McRaney from 1996 to 1998.

The actress was also a successful singer in the 1950s releasing hit songs such as "And That Reminds Me," "Don't You Know?" "Not One Minute More, "And Now," "Someday (You'll Want Me to Want You)," and "The Most Beautiful Words."

Other television shows Reese appeared on included The Mod Squad, The Love Boat, Sanford and Son, MacGyver, Night Court, and The Young and the Restless and her short lived variety series Della among others. She was famously the first black woman to co-host The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Reese retired from acting in 2014 following two appearances in Hallmark's Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

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