One of our favorites, Touched by an Angel star Della Reese, passed away at the age of 86 on Sunday evening.
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Co-star Roma Downey, who played angel Monica on the popular CBS show, put out a statement on behalf of the legendary actress and singer’s family announcing the news.
“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 shared in a statement. “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.”
Reese’s career began in the ’50s as a singer with the hit single, “Don’t You Know?” She would go on to have her own talk show, Della, before appearing in a number of popular films and shows, including Harlem Nights, A Thin Line Between Love and Hate and Beauty Shop, as well as Chico and the Man, The Royal Family and, of course, Touched by an Angel as angelic supervisor Tess. It was the role that gave Reese a whole new legion of fans. It earned her two Emmy nominations and was brought back to TV by some serious fans after initially being canceled during the series’ first season. The show would last from 1994 to 2003.
Reese’s health throughout her career has also been well-documented. She had a near-fatal aneurysm in 1979 that played a part in her becoming an ordained minister (her mother passed from a cerebral hemorrhage). She’s also spoken openly about her battles with diabetes. In 2016 she appeared at a Hollywood Walk of Fame event for Downey and was in a wheelchair and had lost a great deal of weight. She would go on to say that her health had taken a turn.
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“My life is at stake,” she said at the time. “I don’t have type 2 diabetes — type 2 diabetes has me.”
The star leaves behind husband Franklin Thomas Lett, Jr., and her children Dominique, James and Franklin Reese. She also adopted a daughter named Deloreese Daniels Owens in 1961, who passed in 2002.