Della Reese, The First Black Woman to Host a Television Talk Show (“Della!”)

Written by Jae Jones

(Deloreese Early) has had a very busy career. Reese has been a very popular face on the American television screen. Her career has consisted of singing, acting, appearing as a game show panelist, being ordained as a minister, and becoming “the first person to host a television talk show.” Reese started her career in the early 1950s as a jazz, gospel and pop singer. In 1959 she had a hit single entitled “Don’t You Know?”


During the late 1960s her talk show, (!), ran for an incredible 197 episodes. In 1977, Reese was also appearing in commercials for Kraft Foods. By 1979, she finished taping for a guest spot for The Tonight Show, when she suffered a near-fatal brain aneurysm, but fortunately she made a full recovery after two operations by neurosurgeon Dr. Charles Drake at University Hospital in London, Ontario. Reese’s mother, Nellie Mitchelle Early, had died in 1949 from a cerebral hemorrhage.


Reese was discovered by gospel singer Mahalia Jackson, her big break came when she won a contest, and the prize was to sing at Detroit’s well-known Flame Show Bar for a week. She later signed a contract with Jubilee records after being exposed to the music of well-known jazz artists such as Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday. She later transitioned into working as an actress. Most people know Reese best in her starring role as “Tess” on Touched by an Angel. Reese also sang the show’s theme song, “Walk With You.”  She has worked in the entertainment profession with great names such as Redd Foxx and Richard Pryor. In 2005, Reese was honored by Oprah Winfrey at her Legends Ball ceremony, along with 25 other women of African-American descent.




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About the author

Jae Jones

Jae Jones has been writing professionally for over 10 years. She holds a degree in Business Administration, and enjoys writing on various topics.

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