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Actress, Singer Della Reese Dies at 86

FILE - Actress Della Reese poses with the Image Award she received as Outstanding Actress in a Drama Television Series for her role in "Touched by an Angel" during the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People's 29th annual Image Awards in Pasadena, California, Feb. 14, 1998.

American actress and singer Della Reese, who made broadcasting history as the first black woman to host a national talk show, has died at 86.

The Detroit-born Reese began her career as a teenage gospel singer, touring with the legendary Mahalia Jackson.

She turned to jazz and pop in the late 1950s, including the million-selling hits "And That Reminds Me" and "Don't You Know."

Her 1969 television series Della ran for two years and was the first such talk show to be hosted by an African-American woman.

Reese became a familiar face on television comedies, and spent nine years playing a chief angel on the series Touched by an Angel.

She spent the last 20 years as an ordained minister, preaching from a Los Angeles church she founded called Understanding Principles for Better Living.