‘Will & Grace’ star Leslie Jordan passed away at 67


@damarcorandle on Instagram

Jules Kelly, Staff Writer

On Oct. 24, it was announced that actor Leslie Jordan died at 67 in a car accident and was pronounced dead on arrival after crashing his vehicle into the side of a building in Hollywood, CA. On top of acting, Jordan was a comedian, singer, writer and LGBTQIA+ icon.

Jordan was born on April 29, 1955, in Chattanooga, Tennessee, growing up Christian in a predominantly Southern Baptist-led town before moving to Los Angeles in 1982. Jordan, who was openly gay, was vocal about his struggles while growing up in a Christian community and it became a catalyst for his work throughout his career.

Jordan’s acting career started in 1986 when he appeared in an episode of the ABC action show “The Fall Guy.” Jordan gained recognition in the acting world due to his unique southern drawl and his height–Jordan was only 4 foot, 11 inches. He was a guest star on hit ’90s and 2000s TV shows like “Star Trek: Voyager,” “Boston Public,” “Boston Legal” and “Ugly Betty.”

In 2000, Leslie Jordan started playing the recurring character Beverly Leslie on the popular, openly-LGBTQ sitcom “Will & Grace.” Jordan’s performance ultimately led to a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.

The actor was considered a pioneer in the gay community. Before acting, Jordan was involved in AIDS Project Los Angeles and was a food delivery worker for the Project Angel Food nonprofit. His work in shows like “Will & Grace” and “Ugly Betty” helped normalize same-sex relationships in many American households.

Later in his career, Jordan was a recurring guest on “American Horror Story,” another openly-LGBT show. He was also a two-time guest judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” In 2021, Jordan was awarded with the GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics’ Timeless Star Award.

Besides acting on screen, Jordan had a history of working in theater. In 1993, he played his first autobiographical stage show entitled “Hysterical Blindness and Other Southern Tragedies That Have Plagued My Life Thus Far.” The show featured satirical gospel music about racism and homophobia that Jordan had both witnessed and experienced while growing up in Tennessee. Jordan also played the character of Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram in the play “Sordid Lives,” as well as the film adaptation in 2000. In 2004, Jordan toured the country performing in his one-man stage play, “Like a Dog on Linoleum.” Jordan published his first novel, “My Trip Down the Pink Carpet,” in 2008. The book was then turned into another one man-show in 2010 that played at the Midtown Theater in New York City.

Jordan, having explored comedy music in his career, put out a gospel album in April 2021 called “Company’s Comin.” The album consists of covers of classic country-gospel songs that Jordan grew up listening to in church. “Company’s Comin’” featured Jordan on vocals and features legendary artists like Dolly Parton, Chris Stapleton and Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.

The performer reached a new height of fame in March 2020 via Instagram. Jordan, feeling stir-crazy from the pandemic, made a vlog-like video from his mother’s home in Tennessee where he exclaimed, “This is awful. It’s still March. How many days… in March?!” Jordan’s internet videos continued until his death, with many going viral over different social media, including TikTok. At the time of his death, Jordan had amassed 11 million followers between his Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. 

Leslie Jordan’s death was completely unexpected, and he happened to be driving to the set of his new show, “Call Me Kat,” when he passed. For decades, Jordan had the ability to put a smile on anyone’s face. His comedy will be gravely missed, but his legacy and importance for the LGBTQ community will live on.