ENCINO, CA (CelebrityAccess) — Della Reese, the famed gospel and jazz singer who spent a decade portraying an angel in the CBS television series “Touched by an Angel,” died on Sunday night at her home in Encino, California. She was 86.
According to the New York Times, Reese’s death was confirmed by her manager, Lynda Bensky. While Bensky did not disclose a cause of death, she told the Times that Reese had been battling diabetes.
A native of Detroit, Reese got her break in music when she 13 and Gospel great Mahalia Jackson heard her sing at a Baptist church and invited Reese to join an upcoming gospel choir tour.
Reese scored her first hit record at the age of 19 when she recorded “And That Reminds Me” on Jubilee Records with The Honey Dreamers. The single peaked at #9 on the Billboard weekly chart and #12 for the year.
While most of her hits came early in her career, she continued to record until well into her 60s, with her final studio album “Give It to God” released in 2006.
Reese was also a prolific actress on film and television, appearing in the long-running and popular show “Touched by an Angel.” Other shows Reese had roles in include “The Mod Squad,” “Picket Fences,” and “L.A. Law.”
Faith prefigured large in Reese’s career and she was an ordained 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.
Complete information on other survivors was not immediately available. A daughter, Delloreese Daniels Owens, died in 2002.