‘Touched by an Angel’ actress Della Reese dies at 86

HOUSTON — The world is mourning the lost of a powerhouse vocalist and beloved television actress, Della Reese.

People Magazine reports Reese died Sunday evening at her California home surrounded by loved ones. She was 86.

Reese, who first became a national name as a singer in the 1950s, is best remembered on the small screen for her portrayl of Tess, the ‘supervising angel’ on the successful ’90s drama Touched by an Angel. She retired from acting in 2014 following two appearances on the television show Signed, Sealed, Delivered.

Reese was born Delloreese Patricia Early on July 6, 1931 in Detroit, where she started signing at her local church at only 6 years old. By the time she was 13, Reese was tapped to perform with Mahalia Jackson’s group. She would later form her own group, the Meditation Singers in the late 1940s.

Actress Roma Downey (R)and actress Della Reese attend Roma Downey’s star presentation ceremony August 11, 2016 on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in Hollywood, California.

Reese signed a deal with Jubilee Records in 1953 and released six albums.

In 1957, the singer gained national acclaim with the release of “And that Reminds Me,” which became a Top 20 hit and her first global seller.

Reese shifted from being a jazz club performer to television actress in the 1960s. She secured guest spots on a host of shows, including The Mod Squad, The Love Boat, Sanford and Son, MacGyver, Night Court, and The Young and the Restless.

In 1969, she became the star of her own variety series called Della.

In the 1980s, Reese became an ordained minister through Christian New Thought before founding her own church, Understanding Principles for Better Living (also known as UP Church).

Reese leaves behind children James, Franklin, and Dominique and her husband Franklin Lett. She was predeceased by her daughter Deloreese.