We Are Now Living In A World Without Leslie Jordan In It

October 24, 2022 / Posted by:

The world is a lot, lot, lot, lot, lot less bright today. Because national treasure, actor, comedian, writer, singer, humanized ray of sunshine, our Hot Slut of 2020, and one of the few bright spots who got us through quarantine, Leslie Jordan, died today in Los Angeles after crashing his car into the side of a building while suffering a medical condition. This one hurts extra because it feels like Leslie Jordan just gave us a tiny piece of his brilliance and had much more to share. Leslie was only 67.

TMZ, Variety, and The Los Angeles Times all report that Leslie was driving his BMW through Hollywood this morning when he crashed into the side of a building at Cahuenga Blvd. and Romaine Street. Police believe Leslie had a medical emergency. Details beyond that are not known. Leslie’s agent, David Shaul, confirmed the horrible news to People:

“The world is definitely a much darker place today without the love and light of Leslie Jordan. 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.”

Leslie Allen Jordan was born into a devout Baptist family on April 29, 1955 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Leslie came out to his mom when he was just 12 years old (and it was the 1960s South!!!!), and she was supportive of him even though she didn’t really understand it and told him to live his life “quietly.” Thank the Gods that Leslie Jordan didn’t take that advice! During an interview with The Guardian last year to promote his memoir, How Y’all Doing?, Leslie said that he came out to his friends in high school. During high school, he also had his first taste of his future addiction, alcohol, and washed his hands of religion.

Growing up in a devout Baptist family, Jordan faced a battle between his beliefs and his sexuality. At the age of 14, he came out to his school friends and tried his first drop of alcohol. Both offered freedom. “I remember my family were teetotal, but I knew some Episcopalians and they’re big drinkers,” he laughs, ever the gossip. “So I went to their house, got into their bar and within 10 minutes I just thought: ‘What’s been wrong with me? I’m the life of the party now.’ I so wanted to be a good Christian, I really did,” he says. “I wanted to follow the teachings of Christ to the best of my ability, and I tried, but then the whole gay thing starts happening. At the age of 17, I turned my back on religion.”

Throughout his 20s, Leslie, who was a pretty good horse rider, worked with racehorse trainer Horatio Luro and helped Horatio exercise the horses. After that, he went back home to Tennessee to study theater at college for a bit before he moved to Los Angeles in the early-80s. Okay, I’m going to stop right here to share a vintage thirst trap of Leslie Jordan serving Robin Wiliams hotness in 1980:

Since Leslie Jordan was a talented spark of pure charisma, acting work came easy for him, and he immediately began booking commercials. Leslie made his professional acting debut in 1986 in an episode of The Fall Guy, and later guest-starred on Murphy Brown, Night Court, Babes, Perfect Strangers, Pee-wee’s Playhouse, and Lois & Clark. In 1992, he joined the cast of Hearts Afire, alongside the late John Ritter and the late Markie Post, and starred on the show for all three seasons. He was also in the movies Ski Patrol, Hero, and Jason Goes To Hell: The Final Friday.

While Leslie was building his acting resume, he was partying a lot and getting into booze and the bad shit. Leslie called himself a “functioning addict” until his rock bottom came when he got busted for DUI and ended up as Robert Downey, Jr.’s cellmate for a minute.

He got sober at the age of 42. “I ended up in the pokey,” he says. “That’s what I tell people: if you want to get sober, try 27 days in the LA men’s county jail. That will sober your ass up.”

It was while serving time for three counts of driving under the influence in a year, in 1997, that he says he crossed paths with the then down-on-his-luck Robert Downey Jr. “They came to me and said: ‘We don’t have any room for him, he’s downstairs waiting, but we can’t let you out until 2am.’ It’s a rule in California, that you can’t let a drunk out until after the bars close.” So the pair became cellmates for a short period until Jordan could be released. In 2001, they met again while filming Ally McBeal, but Downey Jr couldn’t place him. “He said: ‘Didn’t we? Are you?’ and I said: ‘Yep, 152, pod A, cell 13, you was top [bunk], I was bottom.’”

After getting sober, Leslie’s career really took off. He played a recurring role on Boston Public before lighting up our TV screens as one half of iconic TV rivalry, Karen Walker and Beverly Leslie, on Will & Grace. One of my favorite American sports of all time is the bitchy back-and-forth between Karen and Beverly Leslie. Whenever Karen went up against anybody, I was immediately Team Karen. But when Karen went up against her brilliant nemesis Beverly Leslie, I joined Team More Of This:

Playing Beverly got Leslie Jordan the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series.

Leslie kept the hits coming with his performances in Sordid Lives (the movie and the series), Boston Legal (opposite fellow national treasure Betty White), American Horror Story: Coven, Special, Love Ranch, The Help, The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time, Call Me Kat, and The United States vs. Billie Holiday. And Leslie made many a reality show a zillion times better. He was on RuPaul’s Drag Race, The Masked Singer, Celebrity Big Brother UK, and Trixie Motel.

In 2020, the CDC recommended (they didn’t, but they should’ve) that one way to combat the blues through the COVID pandemic was to give yourself a daily dose of Leslie Jordan. While we were all stuck in the house, Leslie entertained us with his stories, thoughts, and laugh inducers. The Church of Leslie Jordan gained many, many more followers, and he instantly became my only favorite Instagram influencer. If you were feeling down, you could head on over to Leslie’s IG, and let him take you up, up, and away!

And not only was Leslie an actor, comedian, writer, bright soul, and all-around smile maker, but he was also a singer. This is the last thing that Leslie posted on Instagram.

Rest in peace, and thank you, Leslie Jordan.

Pic: JOHN NACION/startraksphoto.com

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