Very sad news today. Veteran actress and singer Della Reese has passed away. The former “Touched By An Angel” star, who mesmerized audiences for decades, was 86 years old.
Reese was born in Detroit, Michigan on July 6, 1931, the child of an African-American steelworker father and a Cherokee Indian mother. Della began singing at church at the age of 6 and soon formed her own Gospel group.
She also excelled in school and graduated at the age of 15.
Leaving home shortly after her mother’s death, Della took up any job that could pay the bills while she strove for Hollywood success, and at one time worked as a truck driver, a dental receptionist, and even an elevator operator.
Her musical focus would shift to Jazz and later, acting.
Reese was a beloved and revered figure in American cinema but especially so in the African-American community. She would appear on a number of African-American sitcoms, TV shows, and movies during a career that spanned 6 decades.
Widely respected by her peers, in 2005, Reese was honored by Oprah Winfrey at her Legends Ball ceremony.
In recent years, Della’s health had suffered. She was coping with diabetes and had reportedly endured multiple surgeries.
She had also battled her weight and eating habits, which likely contributed to her getting diabetes.
Speaking about her struggle against the disease in an interview from 2016, the singer/actress said, “My life is at stake”.
“I don’t have type 2 diabetes — type 2 diabetes has me.”
Rest in peace Della Reese.
Here’s Della Reese in an unforgettable scene with Eddie Murphy from 1989’s ‘Harlem Nights’: