'Happiness is to do for others': Leslie Jordan surprised pals with home makeover days before his death

Jordan, who tragically died in a car crash on October 24, surprised two longtime friends in one of his final TV appearances

'Happiness is to do for others': Leslie Jordan surprised pals with home makeover days before his death
Leslie Jordan surprised longtime pals Rosemary and Newell Alexander (inset) with a home remodel (IMDb, Handout/Getty Images)
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LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: Late actor Leslie Jordan gifted his best friends a complete home renovation before his death last month.

Jordan, who tragically died in a car crash on October 24, surprised two longtime friends in one of his final TV appearances set to air on HGTV. Flanked by star renovators Drew and Jonathan Scott, Jordan knocked on the door of Rosemary Alexander, 81, and Newell Alexander, 87, and told them they would be receiving a major upgrade to their home. The beloved actor credited his friends of 40 years with helping him break into Hollywood and get sober. The renovation is set to air as an upcoming episode of the HGTV show 'Celebrity IOU' in which celebrities pick someone dear to them and surprise them with a home makeover.

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Rosemary and Alexander, who are also in show business, reportedly met Jordan nearly four decades ago and collaborated on various projects, starring together in 'Sordid Lives' and producing Jordan's one-man show, 'Hysterical Blindness And Other Southern Tragedies That Have Plagued My Life Thus Far.' Rosemary told People what the surprise gift meant to them and how it contributed to Jordan's everlasting legacy. She said the actor "just became family to us" over the years.

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"They've just always been there for me," Jordan says in the upcoming episode. "I had some struggles with alcohol, a little drug use. I'm 25 years clean and sober, but they were instrumental in that too because they never judged me." And he's now given them a modern Southwestern ranch renovation as a token of his appreciation. "I really found out the secret to happiness is to do for others," he said when asked why he decided to team up with the 'Property Brothers' stars.

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Leslie Jordan attends the 2022 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at Washington Hilton on April 30, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Leslie Jordan attends the 2022 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at Washington Hilton on April 30, 2022, in Washington, DC. (Photo by Paul Morigi/Getty Images)

Rosemary told People she loved her beautiful new open-concept and manicured kitchen. However, she said the most touching part of the process was getting to spend "all that time" with Jordan. "In retrospect, the best thing about the whole experience was that we had all that time with Leslie," she told the magazine. The late actor and comedian helped Drew and Jonathan understand the couple's desired style and "even got hands-on, tearing down panels and drilling in the episode." The Alexanders said his personal touches and hard work meant everything to them, adding that Jordan's spirit lives on in the new home. "He's not only a part of our past and our history, but he's a part of our every day," Rosemary added.

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The couple's former son-in-law Del Shores, who is also the father of Jordan's godchildren, also spoke to People about the special episode. He said he was the "liaison between Leslie and Rosemary, keeping [the makeover] a secret, and fishing for her ideas on her fantasy renovation." Shores recalled how proud Jordan was to be able to give his beloved friends a once-in-a-lifetime gift. "Leslie said to me, 'I'm so glad I got to do this for them. They did so much for me and this just reminded me of how much I love them. They are my family,'" Shores told the magazine.

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Rosemary and Newell said the six-week renovation process transcended a home remodel and was something they will forever be grateful. "It's another layer of memories for us with him," Rosemary said. "It brought us closer together."


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Season 3 of 'Celebrity IOU' premieres Monday, November 14, at 9 pm ET/PT on HGTV and is also available to stream on discovery+
 

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