Actress/Singer Della Reese Dies At Age 86

Variety reports:

Della Reese, who segued from pop and jazz singing stardom in the ‘50s and ‘60s to a long career as a popular TV actress on “Touched by an Angel” and other shows, died Sunday night at her home in California. She was 86.

“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,” actress Roma Downey, Reese’s co-star on “Touched By an Angel,” said in a statement announcing Reese’s death.

“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.”

  • Treant

    Perhaps she died of a shot to the pinky toe?

  • Boreal

    They need to do a reboot of that series:
    Touched By A Republican
    and the spinoff
    Touched by an Evangelical.

    • Treant
    • edrex

      touched by roy moore.

    • netxtown

      and of course….touched by a Good man (goodman)

    • kaydenpat

      Featuring terrified children. Yuck!!

    • Same thing anymore so only need the one show polluting the airwaves.

    • Chucktech

      How about “Devil Touching.”

    • Nic Peterson


      • Lindoro Almaviva

        They already had that one and the spin-offs too. They are on TLC

    • BlueberriesForMe

      “Molested By Roy Moore” – 3rd season already confirmed.

      • Boreal

        Seems like that has been on for decades.


    Particularly liked her version of ‘Whatever Lola Wants’.. ( From the album Della Della Cha Cha Cha ) Rest in peace. Miss Reese.

    • William

      Della could sing.

  • Texndoc

    I only knew her from an appearance on “Sanford and Son” (‘Eaze on down….eaze on down the road’ – I guess she took that piece as a signature or something). Was surprised to read that she and Redd Foxx had their own show as husband and wife that ran for a year and was “Presented by Eddie Murphy”. Trivia points to those who know the title of that sitcom.

    • Treant

      Sweet Jesus, I haven’t thought about The Royal Family in ages. It was…really awful, actually, but I liked Redd Foxx. I have a thing for repeating consonants.

    • William

      She was also on “Chico and the Man”. I think she became a regular after Freddie Prinz committed suicide. Can’t be sure, there’s a lot of stuff cluttering up my brain.

      • edrex

        he was one of my early adolescent crushes (or whatever my 11 yo brain called it).

      • JDS

        You are correct. She mentions it in her Autobiography.

        • William

          Would you mind putting that in writing, addressed to my partner?

          • JDS

            Sure. 🙂

  • John Clerkin-Whitcomb

    Managed the top grossing video store in the U.S. while this was on the air…. Entered this series in our data base as “Touched by an A-hole”.
    I stand by that.

  • TrueWords

    my favorite and most defining scene of Della Reese

    • Lars Littlefield

      And he did! He did shoot her in the pinky toe!

      During the eighties I became acquainted with Della during her stint on Touched by a Gumby. My neighbor was the makeup artist for that show. In addition, I had salacious relations with several tasty members of the crew. And many weekend mornings the production company shot outdoor scenes using the little red brick chapel as Della Reese Central, which was also next door to my capital hill home.

      The Della was a great story teller She had diabetes and was not supposed to drink. But with a little coaxing it was possible to get her to down several beers and dish about everyone she had ever known in her life. It’s worth noting that Roma Downey was/is universally disliked by fellow actors and crew. It took Della all of her good character to keep her own feelings regarding Downey in check. 🙂

    • Pip

      One of my favorite scenes of any movie.

      “Vera whipped your ass.”
      “Fuck you man.”
      “And if you hadn’t had that gun, she’d still be whipping your ass.”

      • TrueWords

        SO FUNNY

  • Michael R
    • HZ81

      Her Jesus-ing used to really annoy me, but at least she believed in the God is love part. RIP, Della.

      • Librarykid

        You know, my favorite part of Touched by an Angel was when she told someone who was in a bad way, “God loves you, baby.” It is something too few people know because of the fences religions have put up between us and the Source of unconditional love. Hearing it always made me feel better as it did for the character to whom it was told. I am glad that she is out of her aged, sick, pained, broken-down body and her soul is in God’s realm of love and light. There is a Southern expression about a person like Della Reese, “She won’t even need to change clothes to walk into Heaven.”

    • Mikey

      well, if that’s real she was certainly an open-minded christian.
      her show left me cold, preachy and pretentious while trying to come across as homey and heartfelt.

      • Treant

        This. The few times I was forced to sit through Bored By An Angel, I found the plots predictable, the message overly-saccharine, and the internal rules both restrictive and occasionally inconsistent.

        • Jeffg166

          Ever see Petticoat Junction? That was on for years. That was highbrow for lots of America.

          • Phil2u

            …spin-off from Beverly Hillbillies….equally lowbrow, humorless and annoying.

          • Michael R
          • Phil2u

            L O L … well, except for Nancy Culp, maybe. Did she ever do anything else?

          • Lars Littlefield

            She was in Love That Bob from 1954 to 1956 (The Bob Cummins show) And she was a particular favorite of George Cuckor’s in noticeable cameo roles in films during the early 1950s She had a recurring role on our Miss Brooks. She was had a contract role on Sanford and Son. And, despite having been married for ten years, she was a fabulous lesbian

          • Robincho

            I’m holding you culpable for this photo…

          • Treant

            I rather liked it…as a seven year old who thought Bea Benaderet was a blip.

            I grew up.

        • Ragnar Lothbrok

          I always called it : Scratched by an Angel.

        • Guest

          I always enjoyed Touched By An Angel as the highest form of camp.

      • Phil2u

        I agree. I loved her singing, and she was fascinating in interviews on talk shows, very articulate. Her subsequent “acting” and pseudo-religiosity left me totally cold.

        • Bj Lincoln

          I too liked her in interviews. She spoke her mind with kindness and intelligence.

        • JDS

          She was an ordained minister and didn’t judge the LBG community. Oh before people have a thrombo, I left out T because I didn’t know her stance on that.

    • Bj Lincoln

      I did not know how she felt about our marriages. I always figured with her being such a believer that she would be against it. I am a little surprised, pleased and sad that I mistook her for a ‘bad’ Christian. RIP Miss Della Thanks for sharing your great voice in so many ways.

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    • VodkaAndPolitics

      This literally brought a Tear to my eye. Rest In Peace, beautiful Angel!

    • seant426

      Norman, Is That You?

  • David Walker

    I can’t say that I ever watched “Touched by an Angel.” I read the premise and thought, “That’s nice.” But without a doubt I was “Touched by a Voice.” Kinda brash, kinda velvet…gorgeous no matter what.

  • Lazycrockett

    I didn’t care for her religious shenanigans, but she could belt out a song.

  • kaydenpat

    Oh. Remember her from “Touched By An Angel”.

  • octobercountry

    Oh no, I really liked her. Just the other day I was wondering how she was doing; hadn’t heard much about her for a while.

  • octobercountry

    This song was already posted, but here’s an alternate recording. This is a GREAT break-up song—sing it to yourself after you’ve parted company with someone. I know it made me feel better, on an occasion or two in the past!

  • Henry Auvil

    Roy Moore and Tony Perkins are just glad she’ll be living in the colored part of heaven.

    • Chucktech

      LOL! Red lining in heaven…

    • Snarkaholic

      Also known as The Kitchen.

  • PickyPecker

    🙁 Bye, Della dearest. Thank you so much for the good times.

    • Ernest Endevor

      That’s more like it. Girlfriend could swing. I love the song and she sings the verse! Thanks for posting.

  • Chucktech

    Well, sweetie, rest in peace. I’m sure that if there were a heaven, you’d be there.

  • Henry Auvil

    Damn. Della Reese and Charles Manson in the same day. It’s like our heritage is being stolen from us.

    • Phil2u

      …. and runs the gamut, doesn’t it?

  • jmax

    She was one of Mom’s favorites and I can remember listening to her music when I was a kid. Haven’t thought about her in years but this news brings back some old memories.

  • SoCalGal20

    Can Pat Robertson keel over already?

    • Bj Lincoln

      He is 10 years older than God.

      • ByronK

        In dog years.

  • Nic Peterson

    The show was filmed on location throughout SLC. There was a considerable amount of footage shot in hubs and my old ‘hood when we lived there. Yup, those tree lined streets are for realz. Never watched the show due to my saccharine allergy but I grew up listening to her music. RIP

  • Lindoro Almaviva

    That cover of Quando m’en vo to me is as good as it gets.

  • Mark McGovern
  • redevil
  • Jim Phillips

    I remember her talk/variety show here in L.A. on local TV. Sandy Baron was her Ed McMahon. I really never liked her singing, but she seemed like a sweet person.

  • paganguy

    This is my favorite.

    • Michael White

      I used to do this as a drag number in the early 70’s . My favorite

      • paganguy

        It’s such a great arrangement.

  • JAKvirginia

    Yes, she had talents that should be noted. To me, her greatest was just being Della Reese. RIP you dear person.

  • TheManicMechanic

    All the flogging and flinging of Jesus I could’ve done without, and the TBaA series could be oppressively treacly and preachy, but she seemed “good” old-fashioned in ehr beliefs and likely open minded, so I won’t take issue with that. She was a great singer, and a good soul from what I gather. RIP dear heart.

  • Jean-Marc in Canada

    I really like Della, she was a presence. Her voice was instantly recognizable and she could sing up a storm. While it is sad to see another great leave us, at 86, she definitely lived a full life and we celebrate it accordingly. Rest now, you’ve earned it.

  • 2patricius2
    • Homo Erectus

      My favorite!

  • Jimbot
  • normadesmond

    Odd that remember watching her talk to Johnny Carson, telling him about walking thru a sliding glass door & getting badly cut up.

  • Mb

    Her Cha Cha Cha album is among my many vinyl treasures. (Along with the Mae West rock album – Way Out West – and my Julie London collection – especially the Yummy Yummy Yummy album). Here is the full album:;_ylt=AwrBT8KxdxNaf8YAY0BXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTExZzQ0YmY1BGNvbG8DYmYxBHBvcwMxBHZ0aWQDVUlDMV8xBHNlYwNzYw–?p=Della+Reese+Cha+Cha+Cha&fr=yset_ff_syc_hp#id=1&vid=038c0ef2677fb28538180918d9bc6798&action=view