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Actress and Singer Della Reese has passed away.

Roma Downey, friend and co-star of the show Touched By An Angel released a statement on behalf of the family to People Magazine.

“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.” 

Born Delloreese Patricia Early on July 6, 1931 in Detroit, Reese began singing at her local church at 6 years old. By 13 she was performing and touring with Gospel legend Mahalia Jackson’s gospel group. By the 1950’s Reese began recording Jazz albums and became a star.

In the 60’s started acting and would appear TV and movies. In 1970 Reese made history as she became the first black woman to co-host The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Reese became an ordained minister in the 1980s through the Christian New Thought branch known as Unity, leading her to found her own church, Understanding Principles for Better Living (also known as “UP Church”).

In 1994 Della Reese starred in one of her most famous roles, Tess on the CBS series Touched By an Angel beginning in 1994. The show was a hit and ran until 2003.

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

Reese was 86 years old.

Source: People Magazine

RELATED: Reports Suggest That Actress Della Reese Health Is Failing

Touched By Angel Actress & Singer Della Reese Has Passed  was originally published on

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