Much-loved, pint-sized actor and social media star Leslie Jordan, known for his roles in Hearts Afire and Will & Grace, is dead at 67. The cause of death is a car crash that law enforcement said took place when Jordan’s car collided into a building Monday morning on the corner of Cahuenga Build and Romaine Street. He was pronounced dead at the scene, according to KTLA.
“The world is definitely a much darker place today without the love and light of Leslie Jordan,” read a statement from the actor’s representative David Shaul on Monday. “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.”
Shaul added, “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.”
During the pandemic, he went viral on social media with his madcap videos, where he sang gospel tunes and admitted to watching porn. One early video had Jordan’s mother—he had moved home for the pandemic—calling up the stairs asking who Jordan was talking to while he was making a video. “I’m talking to my friends!” he shouted, before turning back to the camera and asking miserably, “How much more of this can I take?”
That said, “I’ve got a wonderful support system in my family, mama and the twins, my twin sisters, and they have this amazing life in Tennessee,” Jordan told host Andrew Goldman on LAMag’s The Originals podcast. “I go home and I want to tell them about things that are going on in Hollywood, and they could care less.”
Jordan’s post-pandemic viral fame found him celebrating at CNN’s New Year’s Eve 2021 countdown, where he rang in the New Year with Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen.
Last year, he released his memoir, How Y’all Doing? How Y’all Doing? Mischief and Misadventures From a Life Well Lived.
Jordan was born in Chattanooga in 1955.
When he was 11, his father—a major in the United States Army Reserve—died in a plane crash.
He worked as a horse jockey for five years, he told New York Times. Jockeys have to be small, and Jordan was 4″11′. “I’m a really good horseback rider,” he said. “I grew up riding and I started exercising race horses, toying with the idea that maybe I could be a jockey. I did that from the time I left Atlanta, when I was about 22, until I was almost 27.”
In 1982, he left the South to travel westward to Los Angeles to work as an entertainer. His mother sewed $1,200 into his underpants. However he had run with a bad crowd even before he got to L.A.—picking up “stray” guys to bring home to his parents—and his relationship with drugs, alcohol, and bad men continued on the West Coast. As he said on The Originals, he was once shot by a crossbow in a lover’s quarrel. “But the arrow just winged me. It didn’t stick in.”
Jordan got sober in the 1990s. In an interview with Page Six last year, he said: “I got into [Alcoholics Anonymous] 22 years ago, and I was made to examine things. I was made to write about my fears, about my beliefs, to find a God of my own understanding. And it’s getting rid of that fear, that burning lake of fear.”
Jordan also had to get honest about his inner self-hatred when he saw gay characters on TV early on in his life and they stirred up uncomfortable emotions in him. As he told The Originals:
“You see it, but you don’t know what that is. What is an effeminate man? What is that about? What does that entail? Is that what I’m to become? And I was just fascinated and repulsed by it. It’s so hard to explain, but it’s just internal homophobia and it’s what every gay man on the planet has dealt with—this internal thing that we were raised with.”
Jordan was best known for his roles of Lonnie Garr in Hearts Afire and Beverly Leslie in Will & Grace. He also had outstanding roles in Murphy Brown, Call Me Kat and American Horror Story—not to mention a stellar six-episode run opposite the great Betty White on Boston Legal, in which he played lovable serial killer Bernard Ferrion, whose weapon of choice was a frying pan.