The soul of a man never dies. That was the essence of Call Me Kat‘s fourth wall-shattering winter premiere, which offered Phil a most fitting sendoff and his portrayer, the late Leslie Jordan, the classiest of goodbyes.
Country music legend Dolly Parton made a surprise appearance during Thursday’s tribute, showing up in a pre-taped message towards the end of the episode. After singing a verse from “Where the Soul Never Dies,” which she recorded with Jordan for his 2021 album Company’s Comin’, Parton eulogized her dear friend.
“I know usually at a memorial, people talk about somebody. Well, I’m going to talk to you,” she began. “Because there is that place on the other side, and I’m certainly going to see you there, little brother. You left a lot of people here with a lot of precious, precious memories. Everybody loved you, but I doubt many of them loved you more than I did.
“I just want you to know that we all love you, we all miss you, and I bet you’re having a big laugh over all of us being sad and sorrowful. And I know that would be the last thing you would want us to be,” Parton continued. “You made us happy while you were here, and we’re happy that you’re at peace. I just want you to know that I will always love you. Goodbye, my sweet Leslie.”
What followed was a montage of those precious memories from Jordan’s two-and-a-half seasons on Call Me Kat, accompanied by Jordan and Parton’s duet (listen below).
Jordan, 67, passed away on Oct. 24 in a car accident. On screen, his character Phil had recently flown off to Tahiti with his boyfriend Jalen (recurring guest star John Griffin). During Thursday’s episode, Phil’s mother Larlene — played by one of the all-time great mamas (and Jordan’s former Cool Kids castmate) Vicki Lawrence — relayed to Phil’s friends that her son had decided to put down roots in Tahiti. He and Jalen bought a bakery on the island and eventually got married in an off-screen ceremony attended by Kat, Max, Randi, Carter, Sheila and Larlene.
After reminiscing about Phil’s Tahitian nuptials, the entire cast of Call Me Kat — comprised of Mayim Bialik, Cheyenne Jackson, Kyla Pratt, Julian Gant and Swoosie Kurtz — broke character. Griffin entered carrying the chair Jordan would use between takes, before Pratt draped one of Phil’s signature blazers over the back. The ensemble, fighting back tears, gathered around the chair, and Bialik said a few words.
“What we’ve done here is given Phil a happy ending. What we’re really doing is mourning the loss of our dear friend, Leslie Jordan,” she said. “He is irreplaceable. We will miss him very much.” Then, together with her costars, she concluded, “Love, light, Leslie.”
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