Leslie Jordan, versatile Emmy-winning actor, dies at 67

Star known as comedy and drama standout on TV series including 'Will & Grace' and 'American Horror Story'

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Leslie Jordan, the actor whose wry Southern drawl and versatility made him a comedy and drama standout on TV series including Will & Grace and American Horror Story, has died.

The Emmy-winner, whose videos turned him into a social media star during the pandemic, was 67.

“The world is definitely a much darker place today without the love and light of Leslie Jordan," his representative said.

"Not only was he a mega talent and joy to work with, but he provided an emotional sanctuary to the nation at one of its most difficult times."

The native of Chattanooga, Tennessee, who won an outstanding guest actor Emmy in 2005 for his part as Beverly Leslie in Will & Grace, had a recurring role on the Mayim Bialik comedy Call me Kat and starred in the sitcom The Cool Kids.

Jordan's other eclectic credits include Hearts Afire, Boston Legal, Fantasy Island and The United States vs Billie Holiday. He played various roles on the American Horror Story franchise series.

Jordan died on Monday in a single car crash in Hollywood, according to reports by celebrity website TMZ and the Los Angeles Times.

Stars of Will & Grace mourned his death.

“My heart is broken,” Sean Hayes tweeted. “Everyone who ever met him, loved him.

"There will never be anyone like him. A unique talent with an enormous, caring heart. You will be missed, my dear friend.”

Eric McCormack. tweeted: “Crushed to learn about the loss of Leslie Jordan, the funniest and flirtiest southern gent I’ve ever known.

“The joy and laughter he brought to every one of his Will and Grace episodes was palpable.”

Jordan earned an unexpected new following in 2021 when the longtime Los Angeles resident area spent time during the pandemic lockdown near family in his hometown. He broke the sameness by posting daily videos of himself on Instagram.

Many of Jordan’s videos included him asking “How y'all doin?” and some included stories about Hollywood or his childhood growing up with identical twin sisters and their “mama,” as he called her.

Other times he did silly bits such as completing an indoor obstacle course.

“Someone called from California and said, ’Oh, honey, you’ve gone viral.’ And I said, ’No, no, I don’t have Covid. I’m just in Tennessee,” Jordan said.

Celebrities including Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Alba and Anderson Cooper, along with brands such as Reebok and Lululemon, would post comments.

Soon he became fixated with the number of views and followers he had, because there wasn’t much else going on.

By the time of his death, he amassed 5.8 million followers on Instagram and another 2.3 million on TikTok.

“For a while there, it was like obsessive. And I thought, ’This is ridiculous. Stop, stop, stop′," he said.

"You know, it almost became, ’If it doesn’t happen on Instagram, it didn’t happen.’ And I thought, ‘You’re 65, first of all. You’re not some teenage girl'.”

The spotlight led to new opportunities. This month he released a gospel album called Company’s Comin’ featuring Dolly Parton, Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Eddie Vedder and Tanya Tucker.

He wrote a book, How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived.

It was Jordan’s second book, after his 2008 memoir, My Trip Down the Pink Carpet.

“That sort of dealt with all the angst and growing up gay in the Baptist Church and la, la, la, la, la," he told AP in 2021. "And this one, I just wanted to tell stories."

Among the anecdotes: working with Lady Gaga on American Horror Story; how meeting Carrie Fisher led to Debbie Reynolds calling his mother; and the Shetland pony named Midnight he got as a child.

Jordan first arrived in Los Angeles in 1982 on a Trailways bus “with a dream and $1,200 pinned in my undershorts", hoping to make it as an actor.

He was told his almost 150-centimetre stature and accent would hold him back, but proved the naysayers wrong.

Jordan's big break came playing the role of a hapless former prisoner in a 1989 episode of Murphy Brown.

“When that episode aired, my agent called the next day and said, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this. The phone is ringing off the hook'."

Updated: October 27, 2022, 7:42 AM
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