Leslie Jordan, Emmy Winner & Late-Blooming Instagram Star, Dies @ 67

Leslie Jordan, the pint-sized, flamboyant character actor who became famous — and won an Emmy — for his role as Beverely Leslie on Will & Grace (2001-2007; 2017-2020), died Monday after crashing his car into a building in Hollywood.

Jordan's success on Instagram was such that he went from 20K to 80K to 6M followers in short order. (Image via Instagram)

He was 67.

Authorities have theorized that Jordan had a medical event that led to the crash.

The car did not seem heavily damaged, so it is possible Jordan was dead before impact.

Jordan was born April 29, 1955, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. When he began his TV career, past 30, he was called on to play up his diminutive stature (he was 4'11") and effeminacy, which he did without shame, always making a huge impression in even insubstantial roles.

I love(d) Leslie. (Image via NBC)

He was so memorable on Will & Grace as conniving Beverley Leslie he won an Emmy in 2006, even though he only appeared on 17 episodes over the years.

Stylin' in 2021 (Image via video still)

Jordan's TV debut was on a 1986 episode of The Fall Guy. Over the years, he appeared on a string of famous shows, including Night Court (1988), Murphy Brown (1989), Newhart (1989), Midnight Caller (1989), Pee-wee's Playhouse (1990), Perfect Strangers (1992), Coach (1996), Wings (1997), Arli$$ (1997), Caroline in the City (1998), Sabrina the Teenage Witch (2000), Nash Bridges (2000), Ally McBeal (2001), Reba (2003 & 2004), Boston Legal (2005), Desperate Housewives (2011), The Secret Life of the American Teenager (2012) and Raising Hope (2012-2013).

He was a regular or recurred on such shows as The People Next Door (1989), Top of the Heap (1991), Reasonable Doubts (1992-1993), Bodies of Evidence (1992-1993), Hearts Afire (1993-1995), Boston Public (2001-2002), Hidden Palms (2007), Sordid Lives: The Series (2008), 12 Miles of Bad Road (2008), DTLA (2012), Con Man (2015-2017), Living the Dream (2017-2019), The Cool Kids (2018-2019) and American Horror Story (2013-2019). He did some of his most challenging work on the latter.

Young pics of Jordan went viral over the past couple of years. (Images via Leslie Jordan)

At the time of his death, Jordan was a regular on the series Call Me Kat (2021-present), which had just been renewed for a third season.

Jordan was proud of how the quality of Call Me Kat improved. (Image via FOX)

When it came to the silver screen, his film work was rare, but special. Films included Richard Pryor's Moving (1988), Hero (1992), Sordid Lives (2000), Eating Out: All You Can Out (2009), The Help (2011), A Very Sordid Wedding (2017) and The United States vs. Billie Holiday (2021).

The author with Jordan at his one-man show in 2010 (Images via Matthew Rettenmund)

Jordan was also known for his one-man show (and ensuing book) My Trip Down the Pink Carpet (2008). The book was not a big success, but his follow-up How Y'All Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well-Lived (2021) was, in light of his Instagram stardom, a best seller.

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If you can handle it, watch Leslie in a charming interview with Megan Mullally from September HERE.

One last hurrah (Image via video still)

A slew of entertainers have eulogized Jordan:

Megan Mullally on IG:

my heart is breaking.
"i really can’t believe it. leslie jordan was, hands down, one of the greats. people use that expression a lot, and i’m not sure it’s always applicable. there aren’t that many people who are truly great at anything. but leslie was flawlessly funny, a virtuoso of comedy. his timing, his delivery, all apparently effortless. you can’t get any better than that. 
and what a friendly, fun-loving, dear person. i was just with him last month. the prestigious national book festival was showcasing leslie and his best-selling book in washington d.c., and he’d asked me to come interview him for his event. i’d done my prep, but it was all completely unnecessary, of course, as i just had to barely unleash him and he went off on a series of absolutely hilarious stories that had the very large audience in hysterics for a solid hour.
off-stage, he was so relaxed and happy, there with his best friend mike. he truly seemed so happy. how brilliant it was that millions of people were able to discover the real leslie and his love of life and unparalleled story-telling abilities on instagram. he had so much to share, and it meant so much to him that finally he’d found a vehicle through which to share it. he was absolutely unique. one of a kind. thank you to all of his fans! he really loved you all and was so genuinely appreciative of you. 
i’m so so glad that i got to spend some time with leslie that day before and after the event, just us, catching up. i felt such a deep affection for him that day; he was so warm and present and darling. as we were leaving, i got a couple more big hugs and told him i loved him, as usual. so glad! what a gift!
and so. love you, leslie. miss you already. and one thing i know for sure… there will never ever be another you."

Mayim Bialik on IG:

"They broke the mold when they made Leslie Jordan. He was a dear mentor and a beloved friend. I will miss him so much - it’s unimaginable that he’s gone. Rest well, sweet buddy."

Viola Davis on IG:

"Oh no!!! Leslie!! I have nothing but the fondest memories of you while filming The Help. I'd never been in the presence of anyone who loved life and people as much as you. Your heart was as big as your humor. You lived. You took up space. You were present. Rest well!! "

Sarah Kate Ellis of GLAAD:

“Leslie Jordan was a multi-talented entertainer who charmed audiences for decades with heartfelt characters on-screen and passionate LGBTQ advocacy off-screen. Jordan also became one of today's most unexpected social media stars, and we will deeply miss the many laughs and messages of positivity he shared with his millions of followers.

He was a loyal friend to so many LGBTQ organizations including GLAAD, most recently hosting our San Francisco Gala in 2018 and was a true class act when it came to sharing his platform and celebrity to help raise awareness and funds for our work to accelerate acceptance for the LGBTQ community. As someone who was very proud of their Tennessee roots, he made it a priority to help increase visibility for LGBTQ for people in the South by participating in The Concert for Love & Acceptance and serving as Grand Marshal at the Nashville AIDS Walk last year,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, President & CEO, GLAAD."

More remembrances here.

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