Hollywood is in mourning over the devastating loss of legendary musician and “Touched By An Angel” star Della Reese.
On Nov. 20, news of her passing broke after her former “Touched By An Angel” co-star Roma Downey shared a statement confirming her death on behalf of her loved ones.
“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,” Downey told 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.”
CBS, the network that aired “Touched By An Angel” from 1994 to 2003 also released a statement sharing their condolences.
“We’re deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Della Reese. She was a multi-talented, award-winning performer who shined brightly on soundstages and in concert halls. For nine years, we were privileged to have Della as part of the CBS family when she delivered encouragement and optimism to millions of viewers as Tess on ‘Touched By An Angel.’ We will forever cherish her warm embraces and generosity of spirit. She will be greatly missed. Another angel has gotten her wings,” the network said in a statement, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Following the news, Downey and several other Hollywood stars who looked up to Reese took to social media to publicly share their condolences and memories of her.
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
Goodbye #DellaReese. But 4 u no me. My mom didn't go to bars but her friend Mary just HAD to see Della Reese. My mom reluctantly came. That's how she met my dad. She also uttered 1 of my favorite movie lines 2 #EddieMurphy in #HarlemNights: "You hit like a B*tch." RIP Della
— Judge Lynn Toler (@RealJudgeLynn) November 20, 2017
RIP Della Reese. Heaven has a beautiful Angel. pic.twitter.com/eFDut47F8J
— Shaun Robinson (@shaunrobinson) November 20, 2017
The great Della Reese was one of the great influences in my life. She taught me so much about singing, phrasing & clarifying lyrics. I studied her albums over & over & sang along. I loved you, Ms. Reese. #RIP https://t.co/XTwHi9IRYp
— Betty Buckley (@BettyBuckley) November 20, 2017
#RestinPeace, #DellaReese… An incredible woman, with a career that spanned 6 decades, producing hit records, her own talkshow, films, television, and becoming the first black woman to ever guest host late night television when she sat in for Johnny Carson.. What a life. pic.twitter.com/nY9uOntgxQ
— Michael Feinstein (@MichaelFeinstei) November 20, 2017
— Al Roker (@alroker) November 20, 2017
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of legendary singer and actress Della Reese. May she rest in peace. 💜 pic.twitter.com/Dt9wtSSf7h
— The Real (@TheRealDaytime) November 20, 2017
Today is not shaping up to be the best of days. Della Reese dies at 86 https://t.co/oEnbkFMPga
— Jemele Hill (@jemelehill) November 20, 2017
We lost an angel today. RIP sweet Della Reese.
— Marlee Matlin (@MarleeMatlin) November 20, 2017
She was nominated for an Emmy for her role as Tess in the series in 1997 and 1998. Before hitting it big on TV, Reese was an accomplished singer who briefly had her own short-lived variety hour and was the first black woman to co-host “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.”
The legendary actress and musician even founded her own church Understanding Principles for Better Living following a 1979 brain aneurysm.
Reese is survived by her husband Franklin Lett and children James, Franklin and Dominique; her daughter Deloreese Owens passed away in 2002.