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Remembering Leslie Jordan's best sci-fi & horror roles, from 'American Horror Story' to 'Star Trek'

The distinctive, diminutive Emmy winner has reportedly passed away at age 67.

By Benjamin Bullard
Leslie Jordan

Leslie Jordan, the spicy, versatile character actor who compiled a screen résumé spanning more than 35 years, has tragically passed away in California. The Emmy winner (for his extended stint in NBC’s Will & Grace) was 67.

Jordan’s career started in the 1980s and took off from there, notching one role after another in both small-screen and film projects where a short, spunky, and at times flamboyant actor was just what the director ordered for parts in comedies, dramas, and genre projects. Will & Grace fans will have no trouble remembering Jordan as beloved guest character Beverly Leslie (he notched an Emmy for the role in 2006), but fright lovers perhaps know him best for a trio of recurring appearances in successive seasons of American Horror Story

Jordan played no fewer than three different characters over the span of his three-season guest stints on AHS, beginning in 2013 in American Horror Story: Coven (as Quentin Fleming) and continuing in 2016 with American Horror Story: Roanoke (as the psychic Cricket Marlowe). Jordan returned to the Ryan Murphy-created series once more in 2019 for a four-episode run as Courtney, a punked-out ghost (and rock ’n’ roll veteran) in American Horror Story: 1984.

Horror, in fact, was a regular playground for Jordan, who previously made his biggest scary splash in 1993’s Friday the 13th: Jason Goes to Hell as Shelby B., a hapless fry cook who gets a gruesome face full of greasy murder. Jordan would go on to star in several lower-profile horror projects, including 2004’s Madhouse (as Dr. Morton), 2007’s Undead or Alive: A Zombedy (as Padre), 2010’s Demonic Toys: Personal Demons (as Prof. Butterfield), and 2016’s Fear, Inc. (as Judson). 

Even before landing larger parts in lighter series like Will & Grace, Ugly Betty, and Call me Kat, Jordan already had been showing up in genre television since first appearing in a small role in the short-lived CBS adventure series The Wizard in 1986. Jordan took on a pair of separate character appearances in the mid-1990s on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (first as Alan Morris aka The Invisible Man; and later as William Wallace Webster Waldecker aka Resplendent Man), and walked on for a one-episode 1996 appearance on Star Trek: Voyager as Kol, a nefarious Ferengi who’d previously been portrayed in the series by a different actor in a non-speaking role.

In 1997, Jordan tackled a small part (as Boyd Butane) in the TV incarnation of sci-fi comedy Weird Science, and later took on similar guest roles in turn-of-the-millennium genre series FreakyLinks and Sabrina, the Teenage Witch. His TV career was in full stride at the time, with tons of guest appearances in major comedies including Ally McBeal (alongside Calista Flockhart), Dharma & Greg (with Jenna Elfman), and Caroline in the City (opposite Leah Thompson), to name but a few. 

Keeping up his small-screen appearances through the 2000s and beyond, Jordan never strayed too far from a good genre role: He voiced a character for a 2013 episode of Supernatural, frequently collaborated with Murphy on successive AHS seasons, and memorably portrayed Benjamin Franklin in a hilarious pop-in from the past in SYFY’s The Last Sharknado: It’s About Time (2018). 

A native southerner from Tennessee, Jordan went west in the early 1980s to seek his fortune as an actor, finding rapid success with his distinctive 4’11' frame and natural gift for sharing with the camera his enormously ebullient personality. Via Variety, Jordan passed away on Oct. 24 after being involved in a vehicle accident in Hollywood.