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John Dye(Touched by an Angel) passed away


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That's terrible. I can't believe that. He was always so warm and positive on the show, such a nice, calm presence, and he looked nice in white pants. I think initially he wasn't even a regular but got a good viewer response, didn't he? I'm sorry that he didn't get a chance at such success again.

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Oh wow, that is so sad, far too young. I wonder if Della will sing at the funeral, I mean, how could she not? I really hate this trend of people passing in their forties and fifties, I hope it stops soon!

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There was always a very kind spirit around TBAA and they were never as preachy as they could have been. The show was in many ways a fluke, as that type of program had fallen out of favor in the mid-80s, so I give a lot of credit to the cast and some sensitive writing. I remember an early episode with Natalie Cole as a woman dealing with her HIV. She was very good.

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It was a heart attack :(


Even as the Angel of Death on all nine seasons of the CBS-TV series “Touched by an Angel,” the late John Dye was an actor who celebrated love and life.

“He turned the idea of the Angel of Death into something that was compassionate and welcoming,” said Dye’s younger brother, Jerre Dye, artistic director of the Voices of the South theater company in Memphis. “He not only took the role very seriously, in true John form he took on a greater responsibility of wanting to be there for people — to be a loving person. The people John loved — he poured so much love into us.”

Even so, Dye was unpretentious about being known as the personification of death. “When you see me in my white suit and I start glowing, you know somebody’s toast,” he told The Commercial Appeal in 1999.

He said he was a regular churchgoer and Episcopal church member in the Bay Area, but he was no angel, despite his TV fame. “As my father would say, I can sleep in a garage every night, but that’s not going to make me a car.”

The boyish-looking Dye, 47, a Mississippi-born University of Memphis theater major and local actor who achieved success and fame in movies and television, died Monday of a heart attack at his home in San Francisco, according to his brother.

The death was little publicized until the family worked out the details for the actor’s public memorial service, which will be held at 1 p.m. Jan. 22 at St. Andrew’s United Methodist Church in Amory, Miss., the town where Dye was born and where his parents, Jim and Lynn Dye, still live.

The Dye brothers — John, Jerre, 39, and Jamey Dye, 43, who now lives in Chattanooga — were born in Amory, but the family moved to Cleveland, Tenn., and then Tupelo, where John Dye attended high school and later directed a production of “Grease.”

In Cleveland, Jerre Dye saw his role-model older brother onstage for the first time, as one of the Von Trapp children in “The Sound of Music.”

After a year at Mississippi State University, “where he was planning to major in something respectable,” Jerre said, John Dye returned home “and announced that he wanted to be an actor. And my great-grandmother, who was alive at the time, said: ‘Don’t do it!’”

But Dye transferred to the University of Memphis (then Memphis State), to be a theater major in the College of Communication.

He got his first taste of screen acting as a preppy student named “Skip” in the low-budget 1984 teen picture “Making the Grade,” which starred Judd Nelson. One of the first successful movies shot in Memphis, “Making the Grade” was advertised as “the comedy that hits higher education — below the belt!”

In 1986, Dye moved to Los Angeles and struggled for a few years before achieving success, mostly on television. He appeared on “The Young and the Restless” and “Murder, She Wrote,” and was a regular cast member on such short-lived late 1980s and 1990s series as “Hotel Malibu” (co-starring Jennifer Lopez), “Jack’s Place” and the critically acclaimed “Tour of Duty,” a Vietnam drama that gave Dye one of his favorite roles as a soldier-physician who was opposed to the war.

He was most recognized for his work on the inspirational “Touched by an Angel,” a series produced in Salt Lake City in which “caseworker” angel Roma Downey brought guidance and heavenly help to troubled souls on Earth, with the help of mentor angel Della Reese.

Because television actors essentially visit people in their living rooms, viewers feel a peculiar closeness and familiarity with TV stars. Said Jerre Dye: “People were very moved by the nature of John’s role, and it was not uncommon for people to come up to him in public and say their mother or brother passed away, ‘and you were a comfort.’ So often he would get some very powerful comments, so he had to learn to embrace all that.”

In a 1997 book anthology of “Touched by an Angel” teleplays, Dye wrote that he like playing the Angel of Death because “death isn’t something we talk about much in America. As a nation, we find it difficult to mourn or grieve, labeling tears a sign of weakness. Because of that, Andrew is a rather loud character, helping us face something we would rather ignore.”

A big University of Memphis theater supporter, Dye occasionally returned to Memphis and Mississippi to participate in charity and theater events. In 2001, he and Melissa Gilbert (“Little House on the Prairie”) starred in a fundraising performance of “Love Letters” at the U of M.

“The stage is like vitamins for actors,” Dye told The Commercial Appeal at the time. “If you want to be a movie star, go be a movie star. If you want to act, get back to the stage.”

The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Amory Food Pantry or a local food bank, or to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation.

Dye also leaves his only surviving grandparent, Irene Duvall of Tupelo.

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Della Reese says that she, Roma Downey and John Dye were very much "a family unit" during CBS' long-running series Touched by an Angel.

But that family suffered a heavy loss with Dye's death at age 47 this week.

"Roma, John and I were a family unit. We worked together every day for seven years," Reese tells The Hollywood Reporter. "We acted like a family. We lived like a family. I felt what he felt."

"He was my Angel Boy, that's what I called him."

The actor died from a heart attack Monday at his home in San Francisco.

Reese says she spoke to Dye's parents to comfort them in this difficult time. In 2002, Reese's own 42-year-old daughter, Deloreese Daniels Owens, died.

"You're not supposed to bury your children, your children are supposed to bury you," she says. "My daughter made her transition. I told them you don't get over it, you adjust to live with it. This is not a time when anyone can help you."

Despite the loss, Reese believes Dye is in "a place where whatever was not right for him is now right for him."

"I am disappointed greatly that he didn't have a chance to finish a marvelous life," says Reese. "He certainly deserved it."


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