Della Reese Dies at 86; Questlove, Al Sharpton and More Salute the Legendary Star
Legendary actress-singer Della Reese, who performed on stage, screen and in the studio for more than 50 years, has passed away at age 86. The Detroit native died peacefully on Sunday evening (Nov. 19) in California according to a press release issued by the family and her representative. No cause of death were immediately provided but Reese did ived with diabetes throughout her life.
Della was a veteran of film, television and the stage. She received her first break as a singer in the late 1950s with her No. 2 pop hit “Don’t You Know.” She would later garner more success on television and on the big screen. She was hosted her own talk show, Della, in the late 1960s; and in 1970, she became the first Black woman to guest host The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Cochran. Reese was a frequent actress in popular sitcoms; she appeared on Chico and the Man, Sanford & Son and would later co-star with Redd Foxx on the short-lived sitcom, The Royal Family. She also played Mr. T’s mom on the A-Team and appeared as Martin Lawrence’s mother in 1996s A Thin Line Between Love and Hate. But Reese will most likely be remembered by younger fans for her starring role in Touched by an Angel from 1994 to 2003; as well as her memorable performance as Madam Vera in Eddie Murphy’s 1989 comedy Harlem Nights.
Upon hearing the news of Della Reese’s passing, celebrities like Questlove, Orlando Jones and others have expressed their condolences on social media. Roma Downey, Reese’s co-star on Touched by Angel, shared the sad news on her Instagram account. The actress shared a photo of Reese and recalled their special bond while working on the series.
Della Reese leaves behind children Deloreese, James, Franklin, and Dominique, as well as husband Franklin Lett. We want to send our heartfelt condolences to friends and family of Della Reese. She will be sorely missed.
Check out celebrities reaction below.
DELLA REESE WAS A GENUIS. HER RANGE AS AN ACTOR WAS ENDLESS. I REMAIN HEAVILY INFLUENCED BY HER WORK. SHE EFFORTLESSLY STOLE EVERY SCENE IN HARLEM NIGHTS FROM ICONS. GONE NEVA 4GOTTEN MY QUEEN #dellareese REST IN POWER pic.twitter.com/BHkDu9y5Cd
— Orlando Jones (@TheOrlandoJones) November 20, 2017
I know Della Reese & Redd Foxx are going at w/ the jokes as soon as she crossed those gates…
— Chad Johnson (@ochocinco) November 20, 2017
Saddened to hear of the passing of Della Reese. I’ve enjoyed her artistry as long as I️ can remember. May God grant her to Rest In Peace.
— Reverend Al Sharpton (@TheRevAl) November 20, 2017
Della Reese was such a warm, kind and generous person. I got to know her on the set of "Touched By An Angel" and enjoyed talking with her several times since. My thoughts and prayers are with her family as they mourn her passing. https://t.co/OHDzY5fS7U
— Travis Tritt (@Travistritt) November 20, 2017
No one in this world could’ve did this better than you. RIP Della Reese. The best fight scene ever
RIP legend pic.twitter.com/ecmZd7zGb8
— Ash (@SylverAsh) November 20, 2017
Heaven has a brand new angel Della today 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 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. 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. Rest In Peace, sweet angel. We love you.