Touched by an Angel star Della Reese dies
Della Reese, who segued from pop and jazz singing stardom in the 1950s and 60s to a long career as a popular TV actress on Touched By an Angel and other shows, has died.
She died at her home in California on Sunday night. She was 86.
"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," Reese's family said in a statement.Controversies rock Hollywood in 2017
"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."
Reared in gospel, Reese became a seductive, big-voiced secular music star with her No. 1 R&B and No. 2 pop hit Don't You Know in 1959. The 45, her first single on RCA Records, was a ballad drawn from an aria from Puccini's opera La Boheme.
She ranged through a series of releases that showed off her mastery of standards, jazz and contemporary pop through the early 70s, and over the course of her career she received four Grammy Award nominations.Jazz and pop singer Keely Smith dies at 89
By 1969 she had launched her TV show Della, the first talker hosted by an African-American woman, and had begun a move into an acting career that would take her to even greater national prominence.
After a number of guest appearances, Reese broke into TV full-time with a starring role in the hit 1975-78 Jack Albertson-Freddie Prinze comedy series Chico and the Man.
Roles on It Takes Two, Crazy Like a Fox, Charlie & Co. and (opposite her good friend Redd Foxx) The Royal Family followed.Last Jedi set for $215m opening in US
She also took starring roles in the features Harlem Nights and A Thin Line Between Love and Hate and appeared in 20 made-for-TV pictures.
Her greatest popularity came as co-star of the inspirational CBS show Touched By An Angel.
Reese played the heavenly samaritan Tess for a total of nine seasons, winning seven consecutive NAACP Image Awards as best lead actress in a drama and collecting two Emmy nominations and a 1998 Golden Globe nod.Camille Grammer opens up about cancer diagnosis
Though she continued to make TV guest appearances and took the occasional film role in the new millennium, she returned to her religious roots as the founding pastor of her own Los Angeles-based church.
Reese's four marriages included a brief, annulled union with Mercer Ellington, son of jazz great Duke Ellington. She is survived by her husband Franklin Lett, a film producer and concert promoter.