Della Reese

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Della Reese, the actress and gospel-influenced singer who in middle age found her greatest fame as Tess, the wise angel in the long-running television drama “Touched by an Angel,” has died at age 86.

Reese’s co-star on the series, Roma Downey, said in a statement that the actress died peacefully Sunday evening in her home in the Los Angeles area.

Before “Touched by an Angel” debuted in 1994, Reese was mainly known as a singer, although she had costarred on “Chico and the Man,” “Charlie and Company” and “The Royal Family” and hosted her own talk show, “Della.”

“Touched by an Angel” was a gamble for CBS from the start but became one of television’s highest rated dramas. It lasted until 2003.