The beloved character actor was most famous for his scene-stealing roles in shows including Will & Grace, Call Me Kat and American Horror Story
Leslie Jordan has died, PEOPLE has confirmed. He was 67.
“The world is definitely a much darker place today without the love and light of Leslie Jordan,” his agent David Shaul shared in a statement to PEOPLE. “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.”
Jordan died in a car crash in Hollywood, California, after an apparent medical emergency, TMZ first reported. The LAPD confirmed to PEOPLE that the accident occurred at around 9:30 a.m. local time on Monday morning.
Jordan’s death was also confirmed via his official Instagram on Monday afternoon, with a brief statement teasing that Jordan was still working in final days.
“The love and light that Leslie shared will never go out and we invite you to share their memories and comfort each other during this time,” the post read. “In the coming days we will be giving a glimpse of a project Leslie was really proud of and was looking forward to sharing with the world.”
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The beloved character actor was most famous for his scene-stealing roles in shows including Will & Grace, Call Me Kat and American Horror Story, though he found a new following amid the COVID-19 pandemic for his hilarious Instagram posts.
Jordan won a 2006 Primetime Emmy for outstanding guest actor in a comedy series for his caustically funny portrayal of Beverly Leslie on Will & Grace, and he also appeared in movie and TV series, including Sordid Lives, The Help, Murphy Brown, Ugly Betty and Boston Public.
Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Jordan — who was gay — joked that he “fell out of the womb into his mother’s high heels.”
He came out to his mother, Peggy Ann, when he was 12. “I told my mother I thought something was up. I didn’t even know the word ‘gay,'” he told PEOPLE in 2021.
“Her only reference would’ve been, you know, like Liberace, who never even came out. She didn’t pull her Bible out, which I thought she would. She said, ‘I’m just really afraid that if you choose this path, you’ll be ridiculed,'” he recalled, adding that she told him to “‘just live your life quietly.’ I didn’t follow her advice on that one.”
He recalled having his first drink at age 14, telling PEOPLE: “I remember that, all of a sudden, I wasn’t that awkward kid who didn’t know what to do with his arms, who was afraid the ax was going to fall at any time. It hit me: I was adorable, I was precious. And I stayed precious and adorable for the next 33 years.”
After studying theater at the University of Tennessee, he moved to Los Angeles in 1982. He steadily booked work in everything from Sizzler commercials to a guest turn on Pacific Blue.
Despite a busy career, he struggled with substance abuse, even once landing in a jail cell next to Robert Downey, Jr., while that actor was also battling addiction. (“I’m partially responsible for his success,” Jordan would joke.)
After getting sober in the late ’90s, Jordan told PEOPLE he didn’t “do parties” anymore, sharing that he hadn’t been out past 6 p.m. for years — mostly because people always wanted him to perform.
Still, his ability to regale a crowd in person or online gave the natural comic talent his final renaissance in recent years.
The key to entertaining, he told PEOPLE last year, is: “You’ve got to have a very strong beginning. You’ve always got to have a punchline to end it with. It’s the middle part that’s hard.”[via]