Della Reese, ‘Touched By An Angel’ Star And Singer, Dies At 86 : The Two-Way : NPR

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Reese, the actress and gospel-influenced singer who in center age discovered her biggest fame as Tess, the clever angel within the long-running tv drama Touched by an Angel, has died at age 86.

Douglas C. Pizac/AP


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Douglas C. Pizac/AP

Reese, the actress and gospel-influenced singer who in center age discovered her biggest fame as Tess, the clever angel within the long-running tv drama Touched by an Angel, has died at age 86.

Douglas C. Pizac/AP

Della Reese, a performer and pastor finest identified for her starring position on the CBS religious drama Touched by an Angel, has died at 86.

“Her signature television role came late in life,” NPR’s Eric Deggans reported. “Reese already had been famous for decades as a gospel-influenced R&B performer, TV guest star and talk show fixture.”

Her husband Franklin Lett launched an announcement by her Touched by an Angel costar Roma Downey, saying that Reese “has pbaded away peacefully at her California home surrounded by love.”

Downey added, “I know heaven has a brand new angel this day.”

Reese, who was born Delloreese Patricia Early in Detroit, began singing in church when she was six. She instructed NPR in 2003 that she was recruited by gospel legend Mahalia Jackson to tour along with her on the age of 12.

“My mother took Mahalia aside and looked into her eyes and said, `I’ve got a good child here. I wouldn’t let her go off with everybody, but I trust you. I know you’re a woman of God and I’m expecting you to bring me back a better child than I’m sending away with you,'” Reese instructed the Tavis Smiley Show.

From there, her songs climbed pop charts, akin to “Don’t You Know,” which is tailored from an aria from the opera La Boheme. As Eric stories:

“Her dignified picture led to mainstream stardom. She was on The Ed Sullivan Show 18 instances in a single 12 months. She additionally grew to become the primary black girl to host her personal syndicated selection collection and the primary black girl to visitor host Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show.

“It was on the set of that present in 1979 that she suffered a mind aneurysm; a near-death expertise that impressed her to turn into an ordained minister.”

Her personal present, Della, was on air for one season in 1969-70 with almost 200 episodes, The New York Times reported, with visitors together with “George Burns, Ike and Tina Turner, Little Richard, Steve Allen, Tony Bennett, Ethel Waters and Gypsy Rose Lee.”

In Touched by an Angel, Reese performs Tess, a sarcastic angel boss who’s a maternal determine to Downey’s apprentice guardian angel. “No one performed the right down to earth, worldly mom determine like Della Reese,” Eric provides.

The present was successful, and ran for 9 years “telling tales of God’s affect in on a regular basis life,” Eric says. “People want one thing to badist them with their lives. In the present, we did not inform you what to do, we mentioned, ‘did you ever give it some thought like this?'” Reese mentioned, as Eric stories.

Reese additionally sang the present’s theme track, “Walk with You.”

As an ordained minister, Reese based a church referred to as the Understanding Principles for Better Living Church out of her lounge. The church’s web site recounts that from an authentic eight members, the church quickly outgrew her lounge. As the Times reported, “she delivered Sunday providers there for a few years.”



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