Dolly Parton among stars paying tribute to Leslie Jordan, who has died at 67

Dolly Parton among stars paying tribute to Leslie Jordan, who has died at 67

Beloved comedic actor Leslie Jordan died on Monday after reportedly suffering a medical emergency while driving his car. The New York Times reports that the 67-year-old crashed into the side of a building and was dead at the scene. The nature of the reported medical emergency that led to the crash is unclear.

His agent confirmed the death, saying he was “a mega-talent and joy” who “provided an emotional sanctuary to the nation at one of its most difficult times,” CNN said.

While the wonderfully flamboyant and out entertainer had a professional career that spanned nearly four decades and won a 2006 Primetime Emmy for Will and Grace, The New York Times noted that his fan base skyrocketed “when his quirky homemade videos” went viral during the pandemic.

“Sitting out Covid-19 in Tennessee, near his family, he began posting vignettes on Instagram—simple, amusing moments from his life—and was surprised to find his number of followers balloon into the millions,” The New York Times continued. In one March 2020 video particularly beloved by fans, an exasperated Jordan complains about quarantine (the post is captioned “torture”) before being interrupted by his mother. “I’m talkin’ to my friends, mama,” he cried in his trademark southern accent.

Jordan “also found that he had become a sort of de facto comforter to those fans,” The New York Times continued. Jordan said that fans often pulled him aside to tell him how much his videos meant to them as they struggled in isolation from the outside. “’I’ve got kids, and I looked forward to your posts and you really, really helped me through this tough time,’” he said fans would tell him. “When people tell you things like that, you realize comedy is important.”

Of course, Jordan was much more than an Instagram star, with dozens of television credits to his name, including his hilarious, Emmy-winning portrayal of Beverley Leslie, nemesis to the boozy Karen Walker on Will and Grace. More recently, he portrayed several different characters in the anthology series American Horror Story, including Quentin Fleming in “Coven.” He also costarred in “Call Me Kat” with Mayim Bialik. The show said it halted production following his death.

“I’m talkin’ to my fraaands, Mama!” from two weeks into lockdown life will forever be iconic.

— Zack Ford (@ZackFord) October 24, 2022

Many LGBTQ audiences also knew and loved Jordan in the camp classic Sordid Lives, where he portrayed the Tammy Wynette-obsessed (but who isn’t?) Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram. The movie in part deals with family members institutionalizing Brother Boy for being gay. There, he’s pressured to abandon his drag by a terrible therapist who at one point tries to “de-gay” him by forcing herself sexually on him. But Brother Boy remains true to Tammy, and above all, himself.

“Mr. Jordan said he knew from early in life that he was gay—he liked to say that he went directly from his mother’s womb into her high heels and had been ‘on the prance ever since,’” The New York Times said. He was fabulously and unabashedly gay. That’s a wonderful and much-needed thing in a time when powerful people are telling young LGBTQ people they’re not okay.

On his Instagram page, Jordan’s team shared that he’d been working on a project that he’d been excited to share.

“The love and light that Leslie shared will never go out and we invite you to share your memories and comfort each other during this time,” the caption said. “In the coming days we will be giving a glimpse of a project Leslie was really proud of and was looking forward to sharing with the world.” In a statement, Fox Entertainment called him “the kindest person you could ever imagine who simply lit up a room and brought pure joy and huge smiles to millions of people around the world.”

In her tribute, Dolly Parton likened his loss to losing a family member. The two had worked together on a song just last year. “I know people always say ‘Oh, they will be missed’ but in this case that could not be more true,” Parton said. “He will be missed by everyone who knew him personally and by everyone who was entertained by him.”

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