Della Reese, who played Touched By an Angel‘s Tess for the CBS drama’s entire run, died Sunday at home in California, our sister site Variety reports. She was 86.
Reese was a gospel and R&B singer who hosted an eponymous daytime talk show from 1969-1970. She later moved to television, with a long career that included roles on Chico and the Man, MacGyver, The Royal Family, Designing Women, Picket Fences, That’s So Raven and The Young and the Restless.
Her most notable small screen gig was likely Touched by an Angel, the family series starring Roma Downey as Monica, an angel sent to Earth to deliver God’s love to those in need. Reese played Tess, Monica’s maternal supervisor.
Reese continued to work after Touched by an Angel wrapped in 2003; her most recent TV credit was Hallmark’s Signed, Sealed, Delivered.
“Through her life and work she touched and inspired the lives of millions of people,” Downey shared the news with fans via social media Monday. “She was like a mother to me.”
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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. 🕊🕊🕊🕊🕊🕊🕊🕊🕊 #touchedbyanangel #dellareese