Leslie Jordan, a comedian and Instagram star who was 67 years old, has died.
Shows like “Will & Grace” made him well-known, and the pandemic gave him even more attention. He died in Hollywood in a car accident.
Leslie Jordan died in a car crash in Hollywood, California, on Monday. He was a comedic actor who got his start late but became well-known through roles on several TV shows, most notably “Will & Grace.” During the pandemic, his funny homemade videos attracted millions of Instagram followers, which brought him even more fame. He was 67.
David Shaul, who worked for the talent agency BRS/Gage and represented him, said that he knew he had died. The police were quoted in the news as saying that Mr. Jordan’s car hit the side of a building after he had a medical emergency. A spokesman for the Los Angeles Police Department said that a BMW driver hit a wall at 9:30 a.m. in Hollywood and died, but he wouldn’t say who the driver was.
Mr. Shaul said of Mr. Jordan in an email, “Not only was he a mega-talent and a joy to work with, but he also gave the country a safe place to feel when things were hard.”
That was a reference to the surprising fact that Mr. Jordan started making viral videos during the pandemic. He was waiting out Covid-19 in Tennessee, close to his family, when he started posting vignettes on Instagram. These were short, funny stories from his life, and he was surprised when his number of followers grew into the millions. He had been in more than 130 TV shows and movies, so he wasn’t exactly unknown, but becoming an Instagram star at age 65 was a nice surprise.
“I’ve always loved and wanted attention, but I’ve never had this kind of attention before.”
He also realized that he had become, in a way, a source of comfort for those fans.
“But what I really love,” he said, “is when someone pulls me aside and says, “Listen, I don’t want to bother you, but I’ve had a hard time. I’ve been locked down. I have kids, and I looked forward to your posts. You really, really helped me get through this hard time.’ When people say things like that to you, you realize how important comedy is.”
Mr. Jordan was good at comedy, but it took him a while to figure out how to become a performer. He was less than five feet tall, so when he was in his 20s, he tried to become a jockey. But when he was in his late 20s, he changed his mind. He got a degree in theater, and in 1982, he took a bus to Hollywood.
It was hard for an actor like Mr. Jordan to find work at the time, but he started getting jobs, starting with commercials.
In the 2020 interview, he said, “I was like Flo,” referring to the woman who sells Progressive Insurance. “People would know who I was. I worked at PIP Printing. I worked as the elevator operator for Taco Bell’s Hamburger Hell, where people went if they didn’t eat tacos.
In 1986, he started getting guest spots on TV shows like “The Fall Guy,” “Murphy Brown,” “Newhart,” and others. Later, he got regular parts on shows like “The People Next Door,” “Top of the Heap,” “Reasonable Doubts,” “Hearts Afire,” and more.
On “Will & Grace,” where he played the sharp-tongued socialite Beverley Leslie, he made a big impression. He was in both the original series, which started in 2001, and the reboot, which just came out.
He won an Emmy in 2006 for being the best guest actor in a comedy series.
Leslie Allen Jordan was born in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 29, 1955. He was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. His Southern drawl stood out on his resume just as much as his height.
Mr. Jordan said he knew he was gay when he was young. He liked to say that he went straight from his mother’s womb into her high heels and had been “on the prance ever since.”
The family was very traditional, and Leslie’s father, who was in the Army and died in a plane crash when Leslie was 11, was worried about how girly Leslie was and sent him to a summer camp for boys one year. In 2020, when Mr. Jordan told the story to The Times, awards were being given out at the camp’s parents day while the parents watched.
So he said, “Here’s one for the best archer, here’s one for the best horse rider, and here’s one for the best swimmer, but I didn’t win anything. And my mom said that my dad was getting worse and worse.
But eventually, the staff brought out a trophy, gave it to Leslie, and said, “This is for the best camper overall.” We know this kid who wasn’t very good at anything, but he sure made us laugh.
He liked horses, but he knew he wasn’t the right person to be a jockey.
In 2021, he told The Telegraph of Britain, “People think it has to do with size or something.” “That doesn’t have anything to do with it. You must weigh about 104 pounds, and honey, my behind weighs 104 pounds by itself.”
When he decided to try his hand at show business, he said, “My mother pinned $1,200 to my underpants,” and he had to choose whether to go from Tennessee to New York or Hollywood.
He said, “If I was going to die of hunger, I wanted to do it with a tan.” He went to the west.
He knew that being gay might hurt his chances in Hollywood, as he wrote in his 2008 book “My Trip Down the Pink Carpet.”
“I decided I would really try to “butch it up” and hide any signs that I was a Big Homo,” he wrote. “It’s funny, but I’m definitely the gayest man I know.”
Once he started getting parts, he got them quickly, but Mr. Jordan also had trouble with drugs.
In 2021, he told The Guardian, “If you want to get sober, try 27 days in the L.A. men’s county jail.” At age 42, he stopped drinking and using crystal meth.
No information about his survivors was available right away.
Most of Mr. Jordan’s work was on TV, but he also had small parts in movies every now and then, like in “The Help” (2011). He also did a one-man show called “My Trip Down the Pink Carpet,” which was the same name as his first book. It was a book of stories about the author’s own life.
In one memorable line, he said, “I am a high school cheerleader stuck in a 55-year-old man’s body.” “Hannah Montana would jump out of me if you cut me open.”
When the show came to New York in 2010, David Rooney wrote a review for The Times.
“Many gay rites-of-passage stories are echoed here: hostile small-town environment (Chattanooga, Tenn.); rigidly masculine father; humor as protection against bullies; unrequited loves; drug and alcohol dependence; internal homophobia; weakness for rough trade,” Mr. Rooney wrote. “But Mr. Jordan’s honesty puts a new spin on them.”
In the past few years, Mr. Jordan has been in a lot of TV shows, including “American Horror Story,” “Call Me Kat,” “The Cool Kids,” and “Living the Dream.” He wrote another book called “How Y’All Doing? Mishaps and Mischief from a Well-Lived Life.”