(July 6, 1931 -- November 19, 2017)
Della Reese (born Deloreese Patricia Early), was an American actress, gospel singer, and author. She was born in Detroit, Michigan. She is well known for her role on the show "Touched By An Angel". Della Reese began making records and preforming on television variety shows starting in the 1950's. From 1969 to 1970, she hosted a TV talk show called Della. She went on to appear on many other series over the decades, with several guest appearances on shows such as Sanford and Son and Picket Fences. In 1987, Della Reese was nominated for a gospel music Grammy Award for best female soloist. In the mid 1990's, she landed her starrring role on Touched By An Angel.
Della Reese first began on the path that would lead to the world of show business by singing in church around the age of 6. When Della was 13, her talents gave her an opportunity to work with gospel great, Mahalia Jackson. Reese also went to Wayne State University in Detroit, where she majored in Psychology. While in college, Reese formed the Meditation Singers, an all-female gospel group which would later become known for being one of the first acts to take gospel music to the nightclubs of Las Vegas, Nevada. Around this time, a sudden series of family tragedies forced her to put her studies and music aside. After her mothers death, and with her father being ill, Reese went to work to help support her family financially.
In 1969, Reese began her work in the TV industry and becoming the first black woman to host her own variety show, Della. Around this time, she also became the first woman to serve as guest host of The Tonight Show and branched out into acting from this point, also making guest appearances on The Mod Squad, Police Woman, Chico and the Man and various comedy series.
In the 1980s, Reese was ordained as a minister through the Christian New Thought branch known as Unity, after serving as the senior minister and founder of her own church, Understanding Principles for Better Living Church (UP Church). The "Up Church" is a denomination of "Christian New Thought" founded by Rev. Johnnie Colemon, a close friend of Rev. Reese-Lett. As of 2009, they meet at First Lutheran Church in Inglewood, California.In her ministerial work, she was known as the Rev. Dr. Della Reese Lett Della Reese.
In 2005, Reese was honored by Oprah Winfrey at her Legends Ball ceremony, along with 25 other black women. In 2015, a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars was dedicated to her. Della Reese was the godmother of Roma Downey's daughter Reilly Marie. Reese also officiated at the marriage ceremony of Roma Downey and Mark Burnett in the absence of Downey's late mother.
Reese also makes in appearance in the 2014 independent documentary "What Is New Thought?, which also features appearances by Deepak Chopra, and Joe Vitale. She has authored several books related to spirituality and metaphysics. Reese died on November 19, 2017, at her Los Angeles, California, home at the age of 86.
Links & Resources
Angels Along The Way: My Life With Help From Above (1997)
God Inside Of Me (1999)
Strength Is The Energy Of God (2001)
What Is This Thing Called Love (2001)
Prosperity Commandments (2009)
Laws Of Prosperity: I've Been Rich And I've Been Poor, Believe Me...Rich Is Better! (2010)
Metaphysically Speaking (2012)