In Memoriam: Della Reese (1931 – 2017)

Della Reese, the vocal powerhouse who later starred as heaven-sent Tess on the television series Touched By an Angel, died Sunday evening at age 86.

She leaves behind children Deloreese, James, Franklin, and Dominique, as well as husband Franklin Lett.

“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.”

Della Reese (born Delloreese Patricia Early; July 6, 1931 – November 19, 2017) was an American nightclub, jazz, gospel, and pop singer; film and television actress; one-time talk-show hostess; and ordained minister, whose career spanned six decades. She also appeared as a guest on several talk shows and as a panelist on numerous game shows.

Reese’s long career began as a singer, scoring a hit with her 1959 single “Don’t You Know?”. In the late 1960s, she hosted her own talk show, Della, which ran for 197 episodes. She also starred in films beginning in 1975, including playing opposite Redd Foxx in Harlem Nights (1989), Martin Lawrence in A Thin Line Between Love and Hate (1996) and Elliott Gould in Expecting Mary (2010). She achieved continuing success in the television religious fantasy drama Touched by an Angel (1994–2003), in which Reese played the leading role of Tess.

On August 29, 2016, nearly two months after she celebrated her 85th birthday, Reese was said to be in failing health, as she uses a wheelchair, following two serious brain surgeries. She also admitted her suffering from diabetes, “My life is at stake,” she said. “I don’t have type 2 diabetes — type 2 diabetes has me.”

Reese was not wheelchair bound, and tried to avoid using one often because it would make her condition worse. Prior to attending the 2014 ceremony to honor her former co-star and long-time friend, Roma Downey, who received a Star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, years after her mentor, Della Reese admitted (after collapsing on the set of Touched by an Angel) that diet had contributed to her diabetes, after years of eating her old, nightly snacks of fried chicken, potato chips, ice cream, candy bars and cola, and was very frustrated because she didn’t do anything to prevent her health problems. “With diet, exercise and medication, I took control of my diabetes,” she stated. “I lost 20 pounds and lowered my blood sugar from between 275 and 300 to between 67 and 110.”[23] After her last appearance on Signed, Sealed, Delivered, she had retired from acting. – Wikipedia

Studio albums 18
Live albums 8
Compilation albums 15
Video albums 1
Singles 16

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