When God Spoke to Rev. Della

May 5, 2003  •  Post A Comment

When Touched By an Angel ended last week after nine seasons it made Della Reese sad but not surprised. Ms. Reese, 71, an ordained minister in the Understanding Principles for Better Living Church (www.upchurch.org), said that the only time God actually spoke to her it was about the show.
It all began not long after Redd Foxx, her friend and co-star on the 1991 series The Royal Family, died in her arms. When that show ended, Ms. Reese swore off doing TV series. Not long afterward she and her husband were about to go on their annual “honeymoon” vacation, when an offer came for a pilot. It was good money, on location in scenic North Carolina and nobody thought it had a chance because it was too “spiritual.”
Her husband, Franklin Lett, convinced her it would be an opportunity to mix work and their honeymoon trip. That pilot didn’t sell, but shortly after, CBS brought in producer Martha Williamson to revive it. “She told me it was going to be about God,” Ms. Reese recalled. “I fell on the floor laughing. I said this is insanity. I don’t want to do TV.”
Her husband told her to think it over, so Ms. Reese went into the bedroom of her Bel Air, Calif., home. “That’s when God spoke to me,” she recalled. “He said do this for me and you can retire in 10 years. So I did it.”
At the end of the first season, Touched By An Angel looked like a sure bet for cancellation. As the cast prepared to go home after the last taping, Ms. Reese said she told them, “Don’t get teary, because we’re coming back and we’re going to be a hit.”
They didn’t believe her then but the show did come back, and in year three became a major hit. “After the second season all the cast came to me separately,” Ms. Reese recalled. “Each one didn’t want the others to know they were asking. They all wanted to know the same thing: `Did God say anything about next season?”’
She told them they would be back that year and more. Now Ms. Reese, while continuing to act and sing, has dedicated herself to being a full-time minister, known as Rev. Della. However, she said God hasn’t spoken to her again. “I am led now by what you men call intuition,” she said. “I think that’s the way God speaks to us all.”