Rest in peace, Della Reese.
The “Touched By An Angel” actress and music legend passed away on Sunday, Nov. 19, according to PEOPLE. She was 86 years old.
“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,” her co-star Roma Downey reportedly confirmed in a statement to the publication.
“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,” the statement concluded.
Downey had recently posted to Facebook, requesting prayers for Reese from fans.
Before landing the role as Tess on the series, Reese was an accomplished singer who rose to national fame with her song “And That Reminds Me” in 1957. She went on to have several other hits, including “Not One Minute More, “And Now,” “Don’t You Know?” and “The Most Beautiful Words.”
When she made the move to television, Reese saw success in parts on series including “The Love Boat,” “MacGyver” and “The Young and the Restless,” to name a few. She also had her own television variety hour called “Della” and was the first black woman to co-host “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.” She went on to play Tess at the time of “Touched by an Angel’s” 1994 debut and continued through the end of the show in 2003.
A near-death experience came in 1979 when she suffered a brain aneurysm, but the health scare lead her to found her own church, Understanding Principles for Better Living.
She is survived by her husband Franklin Lett and children James, Franklin and Dominique; her daughter Deloreese Owens passed away in 2002.