Celebrities & Pop Culture

‘Touched By An Angel’ Star Della Reese Dies At Age 86

Here are 5 things you may not have known about this talented entertainer.

Legendary singer and star of “Touched By an Angel” Della Reese died on Nov. 19 at the age of 86. Reese’s costar Roma Downey confirmed to People in an exclusive statement that Reese had passed away:

“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.”

della reese photo
Getty Images | Jesse Grant

As we look back at Reese’s life and career, here are five interesting facts about the talented entertainer that you may not know:

1. She’s Been Singing Since Childhood

At the age of 6, Reese began singing at her local church. By age 13, she was asked to perform with Mahalia Jackson’s gospel group, and later toured with them.

2. She Had A Long Career In Music

In the 1940s, Reese formed her own group, the Meditation Sisters. She then went on to release a number of jazz records and gained national fame with a number of hit songs, including “And That Reminds Me,” “Don’t You Know?” and “Not One More Minute.”

3. She Formed Her Own Church

In the 1980s, Reese became an ordained minister through the Christian New Thought branch known as Unity. She eventually founded her own church, Understanding Principles for Better Living (also known as “Up Church“).

4. She Gained A Whole New Fan Base With “Touched By An Angel”

Although Reese first broke into television in the 1960s with roles in shows such as “The Love Boat” and “The Young and the Restless,” she was introduced to a whole new generation through her role as Tessa, the “supervising angel,” on the CBS series “Touched By an Angel,” which ran from 1994 to 2003.

5. She Battled Health Problems

In 1979, Reese suffered a brain aneurysm, which required two surgeries. She was diagnosed with diabetes in 2000 after collapsing on the set of “Touched By an Angel.”

We’re wishing solace and strength to Reese’s friends and family as they mourn this incredible loss.