Will & Grace star Leslie Jordan tragically dies, aged 67
Comedian, actor and bona fide gay icon Leslie Jordan has tragically passed away at the age of 67, according to reports.
The star was best-known for appearing in Will & Grace, American Horror Story and more.
He was driving in Hollywood when he suffered a medical emergency and crashed his BMW into the side of a building, local police told TMZ.
According to The La Times, the actor was declared dead at the scene.
Leslie’s career spanned decades, breaking onto the small screen in 1986’s The Fall Guy. He would go on to play bit parts in a number of iconic shows including Pee-wee’s Playhouse, Louis & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Star Trek: Voyager, Dharma & Greg and Ellen.
But it was the trailblazing Will & Grace which endeared Leslie Jordan to a legion of fans, in which he starred as Beverley Leslie, the pint-sized socialite and razor-tongued frenemy to Megan Mullally’s Karen Walker. In 2006 he won an Emmy for his iconic performance.
Born in 1955 in Chattanooga, Tennessee, Leslie grew up in a strict religious household and turned to comedy to help him cope with childhood bullies and the struggles of coming out as gay.
“When I’m being very dramatic,” he told Shania Twain on her Apple Music Hits show in 2021, “I say, ‘Well, I grew up in the church, but I walked away,’ because the whole gay thing came around.
“I firmly believe that God made me this way. I’m not a mistake.”
Leslie’s father Allen once told him that being able to make people laugh was his “gift”, with Jordan saying: “He recognised it even before I did, that I was this funny kid.
“I didn’t know. So, I think over the years I’ve thought of that and… what a gift.
“What a gift to be able to make people laugh, to have a talent for that, because you can tell a joke and somebody else can tell that same joke and if they don’t have the rythm, whatever it is that comedians have.
“It’s like music. We hear the music. It’s the rhythm.”
Leslie would move to Los Angeles in 1982 but became heavily involved with alcohol and drugs. He linked substance abuse with the “inner turmoil” he experienced growing up gay – and said that getting sober in 1997 helped him come to terms with his sexuality.
“My journey into my sobriety was also a journey into my queerdom because there was so much internal homophobia, so much self-hated,” he told Page Six. “Happiness is a choice and it’s something you’ve got to work for. I don’t even like the word ‘happy’, I like the word ‘content’.”
Will & Grace star Sean Hayes, who played Jack McFarland, led tributes to his “dear friend” Leslie Jordan, who he acted with for more than two decades.
“My heart is broken,” he wrote on Instagram.
“Leslie Jordan was one of the funniest people I ever had the pleasure of working with. Everyone who ever met him, loved him. There will never be anyone like him. A unique talent with an enormous, caring heart. Leslie, you will be missed, my dear friend.”
Playwright Jeremy O Harris, Star Trek legend George Takei, Lynda Carter and RuPaul’s Drag Race royalty Trinity the Tuck, who played Leslie Jordan on the show’s Snatch Game, have also paid touching tributes to the late actor.
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