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

The Emmy-winning actor Leslie Jordan passed away in a single-car crash in Hollywood on Monday. He was 67. Jordan’s wry Southern drawl and versatility made him a standout in both comedy and drama on TV programs like “Will & Grace” and “American Horror Story”. During the pandemic, the Emmy-winning actor, whose films made him a social media celebrity.

“Without Leslie Jordan’s love and light, the world would undoubtedly be a much darker place today. He was not only a mega talent and a pleasure to work with, but he also offered the country an emotional sanctuary through one of its most difficult moments.” a spokesperson for Jordan said in a statement Monday.

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

Jordan’s other diverse credits include “Hearts Afire,” “Boston Legal,” “Fantasy Island.” “and “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.” He appeared in several episodes of the “American Horror Story” franchise series.

“Will & Grace” stars wept over his death. Sean Hayes tweeted, “My heart is broken.” “Everyone who met him adored him. Nobody will ever be like him. A one-of-a-kind talent with a huge, caring heart. My dear friend, you will be missed.”

“I’m saddened to learn of the passing of @thelesliejordan, the funniest and flirtiest southern gentleman I’ve ever known,” tweeted Eric McCormack. “He brought joy and laughter to every one of his #WillandGrace episodes.”

In 2021, Jordan, a longtime Los Angeles resident, gained an unexpected new following when he visited family in his hometown during the pandemic lockdown. By sharing daily videos of himself on Instagram, he broke the monotony.

In many of Jordan’s videos, he asks, “How ya’ll doing?”. Some of the videos were about Hollywood, while others were about his childhood growing up with identical twin sisters and their “mama,” as he referred to her. At times, he did silly things like running an indoor obstacle course.

“‘Oh, honey, you’ve gone viral,’ said someone from California.” ‘No, no, I don’t have COVID,’ I said. “I’m only in Tennessee,” Jordan explained. Celebrities like Michelle Pfeiffer, Jessica Alba, and Anderson Cooper, as well as brands like Reebok and Lululemon, would leave comments.

Because there wasn’t much else going on, he became obsessed with the number of views and followers he had. He had 5.8 million Instagram followers and another 2.3 million on TikTok at the time of his death.

“It was almost obsessive for a while.” ‘This is ridiculous,’ I thought. ′Stop. Stop. Stop.′ ‘If it doesn’t happen on Instagram, it didn’t happen,’ as the saying goes. And I thought, ‘First and foremost, you’re 65.’ You’re not a teenage girl.”

The spotlight brought about fresh possibilities. He released the gospel album “Company’s Comin'” earlier this month, which features Dolly Parton, Chris Stapleton, Brandi Carlile, Eddie Vedder, and Tanya Tucker. How Y’all Doing?: Misadventures & Mischief from a Life Well Lived is a new book he wrote.

Following his memoir “My Trip Down the Pink Carpet,” which explored Hollywood, stardom, addiction, gay culture, and discovering one’s worth in 2008, this was Jordan’s second book.

“It dealt with all the angst and growing up gay in the Baptist Church and la, la, la, la, la, la.” In 2021, he told The Associated Press, “I just wanted to tell stories.” Working with Lady Gaga on “American Horror Story”; meeting Carrie Fisher, which led to Debbie Reynolds calling his mother; and the Shetland pony he got as a child named Midnight are among the anecdotes.

Many of his memories and observations of life were turned into stage productions, including off-Broadway runs of his musicalized memoir “Hysterical Blindness” and a 2010 version of his “My Trip Down the Pink Carpet,” which alternated between stand-up comedy and spirited one-man show.

Among those in mourning were Jackée Harry, Marlee Matlin, and Kristen Johnston, who described Jordan as “magical.” Lynda Carter said he “put a smile on so many people’s faces, especially with his pandemic videos.” What a feat it was to keep us all laughing and connected during such trying times.”

Jordan was asked how he related to his role in the 2013 film “Southern Baptist Sissies,” which explores growing up gay while raised in a conservative Baptist church, in a 2014 interview with Philadelphia magazine.

“I aspired to be a good Christian like some of the boys in the film.” I’ve been baptized 14 times “Jordan stated. “Every time the preacher said, ‘Come forward, sinners!’ I’d think to myself, ‘Oooh, I was out in the woods with that boy, I should go forward.’ My mother thought I was overacting. ‘Leslie, you’re already saved,’ she’d say, and I’d say, ‘Well, I don’t think it took.’

Jordan discussed in 2007 how his role as an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor in the CW teen drama “Hidden Palms” mirrored his life and taught him a valuable lesson.

“If there’s one thing that kids can take away from this, it’s that people who use drugs and alcohol are hiding something,” Jordan told the Associated Press. “In my case, it was my homosexuality.” When I was high, it was just easier to be gay. So I was high for 33 years… I’m not sure when it crossed the line from recreational to medicinal, but that’s where I needed a drink to get to a party, to be funny, to be me.”

After a drunk-driving incident in December 1997, the actor changed his mind. “I stayed sober and did not take aspirin.”  Nothing. And I worked my (expletive) off, and my career started to take off.”

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

He was told that his 4-foot-11 stature and accent would limit him, but he proved them wrong. His big break came when he played a hapless ex-con in an episode of “Murphy Brown” in 1989. “When that episode aired the next day, my agent called and said, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this.’ The phone is ringing nonstop.”

 

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