Leslie Jordan, the actor, comedian and musician known for his roles in “Will & Grace” and “American Horror Story” and for his uplifting Instagram videos about the pandemic, died after a car accident Monday in Hollywood.
Jordan, 67, won an Emmy in 2006 for her performance as the sarcastic Beverley Leslie on the hit TV show “Will & Grace.” Her co-stars were among many who paid tribute on social media on Monday.
Jordan was driving a BMW when it crashed into the side of a building on Cahuenga Boulevard and Roman Street at 9:30 a.m., the Los Angeles Police Department officer told The Times, Lizeth Lomeli. The longtime actor and writer was pronounced dead at the scene.
It was not immediately clear whether Jordan had been killed in the accident or suffered a medical emergency previously, but the condition of the vehicle suggested that Jordan may have lost control before hitting the building, a source said. policewoman.
At the crash site, black skid marks from Cahuenga Boulevard led to the sidewalk where Jordan’s BMW had slammed into the building, its metal facade dented.
By late Monday afternoon, the BMW had been replaced by bouquets of lilies and chrysanthemums and a handwritten note on lined paper: “Thank you for being a light in this world! We will miss you. TO TEAR APART!”
Several people visited the site to take photos and stare somberly at the makeshift memorial.
West Hollywood resident and WeHo Times editor Dan Mryglot quit after working out at nearby Gold’s Gym.
“He was in on the joke,” he said. “He knew he was a little girlish man and he took advantage of that – it’s brilliant.”
Aaron Rosenberg, who lives down the street from the crash site, said he felt a strong connection to Jordan, calling him a “gay icon”.
“He opened a lot of doors for the whole community,” he said.
Joey Wiser and Felipe Araipa also stopped by on the way back to visit the memorial. Both grew up watching Jordan on “Will & Grace” and were among the millions who listened to his funny pandemic dispatches.
“I think it brought a lot of us together at a time when we weren’t sure what was going on,” Wiser said of Jordan’s Instagram videos.
Chloë Phoenix, who visited the site with her mother, Jessie, and sister Jazmine, happily pulled out her phone and smiled as she watched one of Jordan’s viral videos, where he spins with a baton in his hand shouting, “Dad, watch me spin!”
Phoenix and his sister said they admired the way he represented the LGBTQ community. Their mother said Jazmine was in tears after learning of Jordan’s death.
“Not many celebrities touch you that way,” Jessie said after the family lit a prayer candle next to the flowers. “It was a total heartbreak for us.”
After Jordan got his big break in 1989 when he was cast in the first season of “Murphy Brown,” his 30-year career was marked by stage-stealing roles on TV shows such as “Bodies of Evidence” and “Hearts Afire”.
His fame grew starring in NBC’s “Will & Grace,” as well as Ryan Murphy’s “American Horror Story” franchise and “The Cool Kids,” in which he played confident, queer old man Sid Delacroix. Most recently, Jordan starred in the Fox sitcom “Call Me Kat,” which launched its third season last month.
While holed up in an apartment in his hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee during the early months of the pandemic in 2020, Jordan found viral fame with a constant series of comedic videos posted to his Instagram. He amassed 5.8 million followers, including many celebrities, who tuned in to hear his sassy stories relayed in his Southern accent.
Greeting his followers with his iconic signature, “Well, what the fuck are you doing?” and posting twice a day for 80 days, Jordan joked about everyday life during the pandemic. He gave colorful reactions to new music, like Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s single “WAP.” He created dance montages to pop music from his garden to his living room. And on walks he humorously recalled moments from his acting career.
“A friend of mine called me from California and said, ‘You have gone viral.‘ And I said, ‘No, honey, I’m fine. I don’t have COVID’,” Jordan joked in one of the videos. “I don’t know how I did it because now I’m scrambling for content… Every day I think, ‘Oh my God! I need to post. What do I find?’
David Shaul, the actor’s rep, released a statement about his death.
“The world is definitely a much darker place today without the love and light of Leslie Jordan,” Shaul said. “Not only was he a mega talent and a joy to work with, but he provided an emotional sanctuary for the nation at one of its most difficult times. What he lacked in size he made up for in generosity and in greatness as a son, brother, artist, comedian, partner and human being, knowing that he left the world at the height of his professional and personal life is the only consolation one can have today.
Hollywood tributes began pouring in after news of Jordan’s death spread on social media, including from his “Will & Grace” co-stars.
Eric McCormack, who starred as Will Truman on the sitcom, hailed the little dandy – Jordan was 4ft 11 – as the “funniest, most handsome Southern gent I have ever known”.
“The joy and laughter he brought to each of his #WillandGrace episodes was palpable. Gone 30 years too soon. You were loved, dear man,” McCormack tweeted.
“Will & Grace” co-star Sean Hayes also chimed in, saying, “Leslie Jordan was one of the funniest people I’ve had the pleasure of working with.”
“Everyone who met him loved him” Hayes tweeted. “There will never be anyone like him. A unique talent with a huge, caring heart. You will be missed my dear friend.
“Leslie was perfectly funny, a comedic virtuoso. its timing, its delivery, all seemingly effortless. you can’t get better than that,” wrote Megan Mullally, who played Jordan’s rival Karen Walker on “Will & Grace.”
Actress Lynda Carter, who played Wonder Woman on the eponymous 1970s TV show, said Jordan’s pandemic-era videos “brought so many smiles”.
“What an achievement to make us all laugh and stay connected in such difficult times… It’s so cruel that this could happen to such a beautiful soul,” Carter wrote.
Some mourners also celebrated Jordan, who was openly gay, as an LGBTQ icon who expanded the possibilities for queer identity on and off screen.
“You were truly one of the spirits that made aging as a queer man more exciting than existing in the present,” wrote Tony Award-nominated playwright Jeremy O. Harris.
drag queen Trinity the Tuck said she just saw Jordan in Los Angeles last week and considered the actor “such a weird icon to me.”
Trinity said she was inspired by the LGBTQ cult classic “Sordid Lives,” a 2000 film based on a play of the same name, in which Jordan played Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram, a gay drag queen whose Texas family has a hard time accepting it.
In a report posted on Twitter, Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, said Jordan “was a multi-talented entertainer who charmed audiences for decades with heartfelt on-screen personas and a passionate defense of the off-screen LGBTQ”. The advocacy group called him “a staunch friend to so many LGBTQ organizations, including GLAAD,” who “also made it a priority to help raise LGBTQ visibility for people in the South.”
In several of his Instagram videos, Jordan has shared stories about the struggles of growing up gay in a religious environment with a father who served in the military. Jordan, who had been sober for two decades, said he coped by turning to alcohol and drugs.
“There was a feeling that I was a bit disappointed,” he recalled during a video. The actor then revealed that he had more trouble being “effeminate” than being gay. “I open my mouth and 50 yards of purple muslin comes out,” he said.
In a June 2020 interview with The New York Times, Jordan said his queer identity helped him find solidarity during the uprisings following the murder of George Floyd. He took his Instagram account to Deesha Dyer, a former Obama administration cabinet member, to lead a conversation about systemic racism.
“I’m really split if I would go on Instagram or anything about it,” Jordan said. “But when you have 4.7 million followers, I mean, you can’t stay silent. I’m a gay man who went through a lot of the early gay rights movements.
Beyond acting, Jordan also dabbled in music as an extension of his Instagram posts where he sang hymns on Sundays. Rooted in his church upbringing, these videos inspired him to make a country gospel album, 2021’s “Company’s Comin’,” which featured guests such as Dolly Parton and Brandi Carlile.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times to promote the album, Jordan opened up about his Hollywood journey.
“When I got off the bus in 1982, I had $1,200. I came from Tennessee to LA, I had some money, and I had my degree in theater. I couldn’t pronounce it. I called it ‘THEE-ate-er’,” he said.
“So I had a list of what I wanted to accomplish. I wanted to do movies and TV, but that [album] was so far off the radar. It’s not like I sit down and think, ‘What’s the next big challenge?’ This has always happened to me. I had a truly blessed career. I’m just part of it.