She was 86.
“On behalf of her husband, Franklin Lett, in addition to all her friends in addition to family, I share with you the news which our beloved Della Reese has passed away peacefully at her California home surrounded by love. She was an incredible Wife, Mother, Grandmother, friend, in addition to Pastor, as well as an award-winning actress in addition to singer,” actress Roma Downey, Reese’s co-star on “Touched by an Angel,” said in a statement on Facebook.
“Through her life in addition to work she touched in addition to inspired the lives of millions of people,” Downey’s statement continued. “She was a mother to me in addition to I had the privilege of working with her side by side for so many years.”
For nine seasons on CBS, Reese played Tess on “Touched by an Angel,” tasked with sending angels to Earth to help people redeem themselves.
“We were privileged to have Della as part of the CBS family when she delivered encouragement in addition to optimism to millions of viewers as Tess on “Touched by an Angel,” CBS said in a statement to CNN. “We will forever cherish her warm embraces in addition to generosity of spirit. She will be greatly missed. Another angel has gotten her wings.”
Like many during her era, Reese got her start inside black church, where she began singing at the age of 6.
When she was 13, Reese snagged a gig with gospel legend Mahalia Jackson after another lyric soprano became pregnant in addition to was unable to tour.
Reese went on to sign a record deal with indie fresh York label, Jubilee Records in addition to in 1957 landed at No. 12 on the pop chart with the ballad “in addition to which Reminds Me.”
Her initial success caught the attention of RCA, where her hits “Don’t You Know” in addition to “Not One Minute More” helped secure her place inside music industry as an R & B/pop vocalist.
Reese could later become known for her live jazz performances.
although the item was acting which broke her into the big time.
Her stint as the landlady on the 1970s comedy “Chico in addition to the Man” led to additional roles which showed off Reese’s sass, including as Vera, the tough-as-nails madam in a brothel in Eddie Murphy’s 1989 film “Harlem Nights,” which also starred her not bad friend, comedian Redd Foxx.