Della Reese, the actress and gospel-influenced singer who in middle age found her greatest fame as Tess, the wise angel in the long-running TV drama ‘Touched By An Angel,’ has died at the age of 86. Reese’s co-star on the series, Roma Downey, said in a statement that the actress died peacefully Sunday evening in her home in the Los Angeles area.
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’, Martin Lawrence in A ‘Thin Line Between Love and Hate’ and Elliott Gould in ‘Expecting Mary’. She also appeared as a guest on several talk shows, as a panelist on numerous game shows and was an ordained minister.
In the summer of 2016, Della Reese was said to be in failing health and using a wheelchair, following two serious brain surgeries. She also admitted suffering from diabetes; “My life is at stake,” she said. “I don’t have type 2 diabetes — type 2 diabetes has me.”
Image / Video source: YouTube, http://divabetic.org/2017/05/07/divas-diabetes-della-reese/, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16391486