To many Della Reese was known for various different images of her: a gospel singer, actress, talk show host and an ordained minister, but the last image that a lot of people had of her was of being an angel.
Delloreese Patricia Early was born on July 6, 1931 in Detroit, Michigan, to her father, Richard Thaddeus Early, a Black steelworker, and her mother, a Native American cook from the Cherokee tribe. Early begin singing at an early age and became involved in gospel singing, and later would establish her own gospel group by the name of, Meditation Singers. She went on to have her own recording deal and by 1969 she transitioned into television hosting her own talk show that lasted 197 episodes from June 9, 1969 – March 13, 1970.
In 1970, Early became the first Black woman to appear on, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson,” and afterwards she appeared on television in a number of roles. Before securing the role as, Tess, on the CBS drama from 1994-2003, “Touched By An Angel,” was perhaps known for her role as, “Vera,” on the 1989 comedy film, “Harlem Nights,” with Hollywood greats: Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx and Eddie Murphy.
Early was awarded her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1989 at 7060 Hollywood Boulevard. She died in her California home on November 9, 2017.