Della Reese - Film & Theater Personalities, Family and Childhood

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Della Reese's Personal Details

Della Reese was an American singer, actress, as well as an ordained minister

InformationDetail
BirthdayJuly 6, 1931
Died onNovember 19, 2017
NationalityAmerican
FamousBlack Actresses, Black Singers, Film & Theater Personalities, Actresses, Singers, Jazz Singers, Gospel Singers
City/StateMichigan
SpousesFranklin Lett (m. 1983–2017), Leroy Gray (m. 1959–1961), Vermont Taliaferro (m. 1951–1958)
Known asDelloreese Patricia Early
Universities
  • Wayne State University
Notable Alumnis
  • Wayne State University
  • Wayne State University
Birth PlaceBlack Bottom, Detroit
GenderMale
Sun SignCancer
Born inBlack Bottom, Detroit
Famous asSinger, Actress
Died at Age86

// Famous Jazz Singers

Della Reese's photo

Who is Della Reese?

Della Reese was an American singer, actress, as well as an ordained minister. She is remembered for her memorable jazz and gospel singing. Della started her career at an early age as a singer, and during the late 1960s, she started acting as well and became one of the most popular television personalities in the ensuing years. Reese was known for her gospel and jazz music and she released 18 studio albums during her extensive career. Some of her top hit singles like ‘And That Reminds Me’ and ‘Don't You Know?’ featured in the US Top 100 and US Cashbox charts. She was nominated for the Grammy Award thrice in her career. As an actress, she was much acclaimed for her role of ‘Tess’ in the American supernatural drama television series ‘Touched by an Angel’ that ran on CBS between 1994 and 2003. She also appeared in several other television films and shows in her illustrious career, including the likes of ‘Harlem Nights’, ‘A Thin Line Between Love and Hate’, ‘Nightmare in Badham County ‘, ‘Chico and the Man’, and ‘If I Had Known I Was a Genius.’

// Famous Singers

Childhood & Early Life

Delloreese Patricia Early, professionally known as Della Reese, was born in Detroit, Michigan on July 6, 1931 to Richard Thaddeus Early, a steelworker by profession, and Nellie, a professional cook. Reese was not the only child of her parents; however, she grew up alone as none of her siblings lived with them.

She was taken to the church regularly by her mother and she started singing there. This built the foundation for her career as an avid gospel singer in future.

When she was just 13 years of age, she received an offer from Mahalia Jackson to join her gospel group which she readily accepted.

She attended the Cass Technical High School, from where she graduated with great marks in 1947, at the age of just 15.

Career in Music

Delloreese Patricia started her own gospel group but when her mother died and a personal feud with her father occurred, she moved out of her father’s house and took up various odd jobs including driving trucks, operating elevators, as well as working as a dental receptionist.

In 1949, at the age of just eighteen, she started performing in clubs and soon realized her lengthy name was not very marketable. To make it short and more acceptable in the circuit, she changed it to ‘Della Reese’.

Soon she entered and won a talent show and was offered a chance to sing at Detroit's well-known Flame Show Bar for a week; however, she remained there for eight long weeks. During that time, she came in touch with several popular jazz musicians like Sarah Vaughan, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald, and despite being a gospel singer she grew interested in jazz.

Reese signed a contract with Jubilee Records in 1953, and with them, she recorded six studio albums. She was also associated with other companies like ' RCA Victor’ and ‘Spiritual Icon’.

Between 1957 and 2006, she recorded eighteen studio albums including ‘Melancholy Baby’, Amen!’, ‘And That Reminds Me’, ‘What Do You Know About Love?’, ‘The Story of the Blues’, ‘Della’, ‘Della by Starlight’, ‘Special Delivery’, ‘Della Della Cha-Cha-Cha’, ‘The Classic Della’, ‘Waltz with Me’, ‘Moody’, ‘C'mon and Hear’, and ‘I Like It Like Dat!’

Acting Career

By the end of the 1960s, Della Reese had already become a popular personality in the American entertainment industry. She shifted her focus to acting and started hosting her own show ‘Della’. It ran for 197 episodes between June 9, 1969 and March 13, 1970, before being canceled.

She went on to appear in several popular television shows and became the first African-American woman to appear in the ‘The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson’.

She acted in numerous television films including ‘Twice in a Lifetime’, ‘Nightmare in Badham County’, ‘You Must Remember This’, ‘A Match Made in Heaven’, ‘’ Emma's Wish’, ‘Mama Flora's Family’, ‘Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters First 100 Years’, ‘Anya's Bell’, ‘The Moving of Sophia Myles’, and ‘Dear Secret Santa’.

Between 1968 and 2014, Reese appeared in numerous television series. Her popular works on television include ‘The Bold Ones: The New Doctors’, ‘Police Woman’, ‘McCloud’, ‘The Rookies’,’ Chico and the Man’ (regular cast), ‘The Love Boat ‘, ‘It Takes Two ‘, ‘The A-Team’, ‘Crazy Like a Fox’, ‘Charlie & Co.’, ‘The Royal Family’ (lead cast), ‘Touched by an Angel’ (lead role), ‘Promised Land’, and ‘The Young and the Restless’.

Major Works

One of Della Reese’s very first singles, the title song of the album ‘And That Reminds Me’ became one of her biggest hits. It reached the number 9 spot on the weekly Billboard chart and number 16 on the Cashbox in 1957. The song became her biggest commercial hit so far, and the album received a Gold Certificate from the RIAA.

In 1991, she lost her long-term fried Redd Foxx, and was not very sure of taking up any new TV projects. However, she took the role of ‘Tess’ in ‘Touched by an Angel’, an American supernatural drama television series created by John Masius. The show ran on CBS between September 21, 1994 and April 27, 2003 for a total of 211 episodes. Her character became very popular among the audiences and the show became a huge hit.

Awards & Achievements

Della Reese won seven Image Awards for ‘Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series’ between 1996 and 2002 for her outstanding work in ‘Touched by an Angel’.

She was nominated three times for the Grammy Awards and also earned nominations for the ‘Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series’ and ‘Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series’ for her work in ‘Touched by an Angel’.

In 1994, she was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame: 7060 Hollywood Boulevard.

Personal Life

Della Reese married Vermont Adolphus Bon Taliaferro, a factory worker, in 1952. It was the first of her three marriages. It ended in a divorce seven years later. She then married Leroy Basil Gray, an accountant by profession who had a child from his previous marriage. However, this one also ended in a divorce in 1961.

Her last marriage was with Franklin Thomas Lett Jr., a concert producer and writer, on 12th January 1983. They remained married until her death in 2017. The couple had three children together, James, Franklin, and Dominique. Reese also had one adopted daughter, Deloreese Daniels Owens.

Reese suffered a brain aneurysm in 1979 and recovered after having two surgeries by neurosurgeon Charles Drake at the University Hospital. She had several health issues including Type 2 diabetes which was believed to have been caused by her habit of eating nightly snacks of fried chicken, ice cream, potato chips, and candy bars during her early years in the industry. She died on November 19, 2017, at her house in Los Angeles, California and was survived by her husband Franklin Lett and three sons.

// Famous Actresses

Della Reese biography timelines

  • // 6th Jul 1931
    Delloreese Patricia Early, professionally known as Della Reese, was born in Detroit, Michigan on July 6, 1931 to Richard Thaddeus Early, a steelworker by profession, and Nellie, a professional cook. Reese was not the only child of her parents; however, she grew up alone as none of her siblings lived with them.
  • // 1947
    She attended the Cass Technical High School, from where she graduated with great marks in 1947, at the age of just 15.
  • // 1949
    In 1949, at the age of just eighteen, she started performing in clubs and soon realized her lengthy name was not very marketable. To make it short and more acceptable in the circuit, she changed it to ‘Della Reese’.
  • // 1952 To 1961
    Della Reese married Vermont Adolphus Bon Taliaferro, a factory worker, in 1952. It was the first of her three marriages. It ended in a divorce seven years later. She then married Leroy Basil Gray, an accountant by profession who had a child from his previous marriage. However, this one also ended in a divorce in 1961.
  • // 1953
    Reese signed a contract with Jubilee Records in 1953, and with them, she recorded six studio albums. She was also associated with other companies like ' RCA Victor’ and ‘Spiritual Icon’.
  • // 1957 To 2006
    Between 1957 and 2006, she recorded eighteen studio albums including ‘Melancholy Baby’, Amen!’, ‘And That Reminds Me’, ‘What Do You Know About Love?’, ‘The Story of the Blues’, ‘Della’, ‘Della by Starlight’, ‘Special Delivery’, ‘Della Della Cha-Cha-Cha’, ‘The Classic Della’, ‘Waltz with Me’, ‘Moody’, ‘C'mon and Hear’, and ‘I Like It Like Dat!’
  • // 1957
    One of Della Reese’s very first singles, the title song of the album ‘And That Reminds Me’ became one of her biggest hits. It reached the number 9 spot on the weekly Billboard chart and number 16 on the Cashbox in 1957. The song became her biggest commercial hit so far, and the album received a Gold Certificate from the RIAA.
  • // 1968 To 2014
    Between 1968 and 2014, Reese appeared in numerous television series. Her popular works on television include ‘The Bold Ones: The New Doctors’, ‘Police Woman’, ‘McCloud’, ‘The Rookies’,’ Chico and the Man’ (regular cast), ‘The Love Boat ‘, ‘It Takes Two ‘, ‘The A-Team’, ‘Crazy Like a Fox’, ‘Charlie & Co.’, ‘The Royal Family’ (lead cast), ‘Touched by an Angel’ (lead role), ‘Promised Land’, and ‘The Young and the Restless’.
  • // 9th Jun 1969 To 13th Mar 1970
    By the end of the 1960s, Della Reese had already become a popular personality in the American entertainment industry. She shifted her focus to acting and started hosting her own show ‘Della’. It ran for 197 episodes between June 9, 1969 and March 13, 1970, before being canceled.
  • // 1979 To 19th Nov 2017
    Reese suffered a brain aneurysm in 1979 and recovered after having two surgeries by neurosurgeon Charles Drake at the University Hospital. She had several health issues including Type 2 diabetes which was believed to have been caused by her habit of eating nightly snacks of fried chicken, ice cream, potato chips, and candy bars during her early years in the industry. She died on November 19, 2017, at her house in Los Angeles, California and was survived by her husband Franklin Lett and three sons.
  • // 12th Jan 1983 To 2017
    Her last marriage was with Franklin Thomas Lett Jr., a concert producer and writer, on 12th January 1983. They remained married until her death in 2017. The couple had three children together, James, Franklin, and Dominique. Reese also had one adopted daughter, Deloreese Daniels Owens.
  • // 1994
    In 1994, she was inducted into the Hollywood Walk of Fame: 7060 Hollywood Boulevard.
  • // 1996 To 2002
    Della Reese won seven Image Awards for ‘Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series’ between 1996 and 2002 for her outstanding work in ‘Touched by an Angel’.

// Famous Black Singers

Della Reese's FAQ

  • What is Della Reese birthday?

    Della Reese was born at 1931-07-06

  • When was Della Reese died?

    Della Reese was died at 2017-11-19

  • Where was Della Reese died?

    Della Reese was died in Encino, Los Angeles, California

  • Which age was Della Reese died?

    Della Reese was died at age 86

  • Where is Della Reese's birth place?

    Della Reese was born in Black Bottom, Detroit

  • What is Della Reese nationalities?

    Della Reese's nationalities is American

  • Who is Della Reese spouses?

    Della Reese's spouses is Franklin Lett (m. 1983–2017), Leroy Gray (m. 1959–1961), Vermont Taliaferro (m. 1951–1958)

  • What was Della Reese universities?

    Della Reese studied at Wayne State University

  • What was Della Reese notable alumnis?

    Della Reese's notable alumnis is Wayne State University, Wayne State University

  • What is Della Reese's sun sign?

    Della Reese is Cancer

  • How famous is Della Reese?

    Della Reese is famouse as Singer, Actress