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Leslie Jordan, 'Will & Grace' and 'Call Me Kat' actor, dies in car crash at age 67

Leslie Jordan, the comedic actor from Will & Grace, Murphy Brown and Call Me Kat, has died at age 67.

His spokesperson confirms to Yahoo Entertainment that Jordan died in a car crash in Los Angeles on Monday morning. "The world is definitely a much darker place today without the love and light of Leslie Jordan," the rep says in a statement. "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. 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."

His family also shared a message on his Instagram account.

A spokesperson for the LAPD says there was a traffic collision on Cahuenga Boulevard and Romaine Street in West Hollywood at 9:30 a.m. on Monday. Jordan, who was driving a BMW, hit a wall and "was pronounced dead on scene." According to reports, he may have suffered from a medical emergency while driving.

Born and raised in Chattanooga, Tenn., Jordan began his Hollywood career in the 1980s. He called Murphy Brown in 1989 his break. He went on to appear in TV's Hearts Afire a few years later and became even more well known as Beverley Leslie in Will & Grace, which he played during its original run and when it was brought back in the late 2010s. He won an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for the role in 2006. Jordan also appeared in Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story franchise, Call Me Kat alongside Mayim Bialik and The Cool Kids. (One role that he was up for that didn't get was Sanford in Sex and the City, he told Yahoo Entertainment in 2021.)

US actor Leslie Jordan arrives for the White House Correspondents Association gala at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC, on April 30, 2022. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP) (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)
Leslie Jordan arrives for the White House Correspondents Association gala at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington, DC, on April 30, 2022. (Photo: Stefani Reynolds / AFP)

While he racked up many credits as a comedic actor, he experienced a different kind of fame during the pandemic — as an internet star. During the early days of lockdown, he posted videos a few times a day, waxing about being bored at home telling stories about Hollywood or showing himself exercising. He amassed a big follow, currently with 5.8 million Instagram followers.

"During the pandemic, I posted twice a day for 80 days," Jordan told Yahoo Entertainment in 2021. "And my friend called from Tennessee and said, 'You've gone viral!' And I said, 'No, honey, I'm fine. I'm in Tennessee with my mother. I don't have the virus.'" As for his social media success, he said he didn't have any help: "I figured it out all myself."

Jordan's last Instagram post was just Sunday. He held what he dubbed "Sunday Mornin' Hymn Singin'" along with musician and songwriter Danny Myrick and sang "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder." He signed off with: "Love. Light. Leslie."

Jordan's internet fame led to a book deal, 2021's How Y'all Doing?: Misadventures and Mischief from a Life Well Lived. In his book as well as in many interviews, Jordan detailed his personal struggles with humor. He battled alcoholism and had multiple DUI arrests that landed him in jail. At one point in the late 1990s, he briefly shared a cell with Robert Downey Jr., with whom he'd later guest-star on Ally McBeal.

"I ended up in the pokey," he told The Guardian in 2021."That's what I tell people: if you want to get sober, try 27 days in the L.A. men’s county jail. That will sober your ass up." It did — and he had been in recovery for 22 years.

Jordan has said that his struggles stemmed from growing up gay and in conservative Tennessee.

"There's a line that my friend Del Shores [creator of Sordid Lives] uses that’s so poignant: We learn to hate ourselves in a church pew," he told Out Smart magazine in 2012. "Until you've gone through that — sat in a Baptist church in the 1960s — you can't understand. There was so much shame over who I was. I've been baptized 14 times because I just didn’t think it ever took. I started drinking and doing drugs when I was 14 because that was my way of dealing with being gay — it was a lot easier when I was loaded. When I finally got sober at 42, I was riddled with internal homophobia. What it finally took was me getting rid of all that I learned growing up."

Jordan had really embraced what his fame in later life had brought him and told Yahoo that Call Me Kat was his favorite role to date. Production on the Fox series was indefinitely paused following word of Jordan's death, with the network praising the entertainer for bringing "pure joy and huge smiles to millions of people around the world." Jordan had completed nine episodes, including four that had yet to air, and had been scheduled to appear throughout the rest of the season.

"I hope that it comes through how much fun we're having," he said of playing an employee at the cat cafe owned by Bialik's character, Kat. "You know, I've got 30 or 40 years in the business, and I really think this is my favorite job."