Love, Light, Leslie: Remembering Leslie Jordan

AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes / Photo illustration by Matt McClane / Leslie Jordan poses for a portrait at Pan Pacific Park in the Fairfax district of Los Angeles in 2021.


"Well hello, fellow hunker-downers. How y'all doin'?"

When reading those words, didn't you hear them in Leslie Jordan's inimitable drawl? More than a month has passed since his untimely death, yet not a day has gone by that some type of reminiscence or a replay of one of his entertaining videos hasn't popped up on social media.

After all, during the COVID pandemic he was the only one we let into our homes by watching and laughing at the Pillow Talk videos he posted to break the monotony of quarantining. He was laugh-out-loud funny. He was charming. He was relatable. So it's not surprising everyone felt like they'd lost a good friend when he passed.

The comedian loved to tell how he hopped a Greyhound bus to California in 1982 with nothing but "$1,200 that my mama pinned to my underwear." His first bookings in Hollywood were commercials before he got a guest spot on "The Fall Guy." His big break was being cast as one of Candice Bergen's secretaries on sitcom "Murphy Brown" in the late 1980s. Over his 40-year career, he made cameos, had roles or acted in guest arcs on more than 70 sitcoms, dramas and reality shows. He also had an extensive list of film credits. He won an Emmy for his portrayal of Beverley Leslie, arch nemesis of Megan Mullally's Karen Walker on "Will and Grace."

He loved sharing hilarious stories of stars with whom he worked. A favorite was a scene he did with Betty White on "Boston Legal." The script called for White to fake a swing at Jordan with a frying pan; instead she took a real wallop at the unsuspecting actor, knocking him off his feet.

He was part of the ensemble of "The Cool Kids" when one of the Fox sitcom's assistants suggested he should post his humorous observations about life on Instagram. His followers jumped from 80,000 to 5 million and a "social media maven," as he joked about himself, was born.

In his 60s, when many Hollywood careers are winding down, Jordan was launching new ventures as an author and recording artist. Pop culture calls that reinventing oneself, but for the comedian, it was living life to its fullest. Stretching his talent; trying new interests.

His Sunday Morning Singings, quarantine videos in which he sang the old gospel hymns he grew up with in the Baptist church, led to recording an album of duets with some of the biggest stars in country and rock music (Eddie Vedder, Dolly Parton). That album, "Company's Coming," got Jordan an invitation to make his Grand Ole Opry debut in May 2021.

Jordan was once asked by an interviewer how he wanted to be remembered. He immediately responded: "Like Dolly Parton -- nobody has a bad word to say."

Mission accomplished.