Leslie Jordan, an Emmy-winning actor, writer and singer best known for his roles in “Will & Grace,” “American Horror Story” and “Hearts Afire,” has died. He was 67.
Jordan was driving in Hollywood Monday morning and crashed into the side of a building at Cahuenga Blvd. and Romaine St. It was suspected he suffered some sort of medical emergency.
Jordan was a veteran actor whose credits also included “The Help,” “The Cool Kids” and “Call Me Kat,” which is currently airing its third season on Fox. In 2006, he won the Emmy Award for guest actor in a comedy series for his work on “Will & Grace,” on which he played Karen’s sexually ambiguous, socialite frenemy Beverly Leslie.
He appeared on television shows including “Ally McBeal,” “Ugly Betty,” “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman,” “Hidden Palms,” “Star Trek: Voyager,” “Caroline in the City,” “Pee-Wee’s Playhouse,” “Reba,” “Boston Public,” “Nash Bridges” and “Boston Legal,” as well as films like “Ski Patrol,” “Roadside Rodeo,” “Love Ranch,” “Southern Baptist Sissies” and “The United States vs. Billie Holiday.”
Jordan played three different characters on three different seasons of Ryan Murphy’s “American Horror Story,” recurring in the “Coven,” “Roanoke” and “1984” installments.
One of Jordan’s most celebrated roles was his turn as Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram in the stage play “Sordid Lives,” which was later adapted into a 2000 cult romantic comedy film of the same name. In 1993, he created his first autobiographical stage show, “Hysterical Blindness and Other Southern Tragedies That Have Plagued My Life Thus Far,” which ran for seven months off-Broadway at the SoHo Playhouse. The play chronicled Jordan’s early life in Chattanooga, Tenn., and featured the actor backed by a gospel choir singing satirical songs about racism and homophobia. At the time of the play’s production, Variety praised Jordan’s “endearing stage presence” and called the show “bittersweet and hilarious.”
In 2020, Jordan became a social media phenomenon, gaining millions of Instagram followers due to his humorous videos posted throughout the pandemic.
Jordan released a gospel music album titled “Company’s Comin'” in 2021 and, later that year, appeared as a guest panelist on “The Masked Singer,” where he performed gospel standard “This Little Light of Mine.”
An LGBTQ icon, Jordan received GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics’ Timeless Star award in 2021. He appeared on “RuPaul’s Drag Race” as a guest judge in 2013, and again in 2022 as a guest director. During the AIDS crisis, he was involved with the AIDS Project Los Angeles and Project Angel Food.
Born and raised in Tennessee, Jordan grew up Southern Baptist. He moved to Los Angeles in 1982 and began racking up credits just a few years later. Starting in his 20s, he struggled with drug and alcohol abuse. In 2010, Jordan announced he had been sober for 13 years.
“The world is definitely a much darker place today without the love and light of Leslie Jordan,” said David Shaul, Jordan’s agent. “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. What he lacked in height he made up for in generosity and greatness as a son, brother, artist, comedian, partner and human being. Knowing that he has left the world at the height of both his professional and personal life is the only solace one can have today.”
Fox Entertainment said in a statement, “We are shocked and devastated by today’s tragic passing of Leslie Jordan. Leslie was far more than an Emmy Award-winning comedic talent with whom we’ve laughed alongside for all these years. He was the kindest person you could ever imagine who simply lit up a room and brought pure joy and huge smiles to millions of people around the world. The truest of Southern Gentlemen, Leslie carried an infectious exuberance, indelible sense of humor and, throughout, gifted us with countless fond memories that will last forever. As we grieve this sad news, we also wish to extend our most profound sympathies to Leslie’s family, friends and fans, whom he held so dear.”
His death was first reported by TMZ.