Rosemary and Newell Alexander are Leslie Jordan’s close friends. In one of the late actor’s last appearances, he surprises the couple in the season premiere of “Celebrity IOU.” Jordan passed away on October 24, 2022, crashing his car after experiencing a medical emergency.
Jordan explains why he appeared on the “Celebrity IOU,” saying in a clip obtained by People, “I really found out the secret to happiness is to do for others.”
The series follows celebrities as they partner with “Property Brothers” stars Drew and Jonathan Scott to surprise important people in their lives with renovations. This season’s other stars include Drew Barrymore, Cindy Crawford, Terry Crews, Cheryl Hines, Kate Hudson, Idina Menzel and Wilmer Valderrama.
Here is what you need to know:
1. Leslie Jordan Shared a 40-Year Friendship With Rosemary & Newell Alexander
Jordan was friends with Rosemary, 81, and Newell, 87, for 40 years.
“When he moved to LA from Tennessee in the 1980s to pursue acting, Leslie met fellow actors Newell and Rosemary who helped him get into theater and eventually became more like family,” HGTV explained.
Rosemary concurred, telling People, “He just became family to us.”
2. Rosemary & Newell Alexander Are Both Actors
Like Jordan, Rosemary and Newell are both actors with 48 and 115 acting credits on IMDb to their names, respectively.
Rosemary has appeared as a guest in many long-running series and voiced characters in animated classics. Her television credits include “Knot’s Landing,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Designing Women,” “Chicago Hope” and “Dharma & Greg.” Her voice-over roles include “Howl’s Moving Castle,” “The Lorax” and “Despicable Me 3.”
Newell’s many roles include “Little House on the Prairie,” “Dallas,” “Quantum Leap,” “Days of Our Lives,” “Walker, Texas Ranger,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “August Osage County.”
The couple is perhaps best known for their roles in the play and cult film “Sordid Lives” and its subsequent sequels and spinoffs, in which they starred alongside Jordan. Rosemary played Dr. Eve Bolinger, Newell played Wardell Owens and Jordan played Earl “Brother Boy” Ingram.
That is not the only time they worked together. Among their other collaborations, the couple produced Jordan’s one-man show, “Hysterical Blindness and Other Southern Tragedies That Have Plagued My Life Thus Far.”
3. Leslie Jordan Credits the Couple With Helping Him Get Sober
The Alexanders were a support system for Jordan, especially during “some hard personal struggles,” according to HGTV.
During his “Celebrity IOU” episode, Jordan explained that Rosemary and Newell helped him get sober.
“They’ve just always been there for me,” he said. “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.”
Rosemary referenced his sobriety in a 2020 Instagram post. She wrote, “I am thankful for your example and the beautiful life you have built without drinking. Stay safe and keep bringing your special joy to us.”
4. Leslie Jordan Renovated the Alexanders’ Ranch-Style Home
Jordan enlisted the help of Drew and Jonathan to provide the Alexanders with a “striking renovation of their charming but dated ranch-style home,” according to HGTV. The design featured an open-concept kitchen.
While the couple is thankful for the renovation, Rosemary told People what she found to be the most touching part of being on the show.
“In retrospect, the best thing about the whole experience was that we had all that time with Leslie,” Rosemary told the publication. She added, “He’s not only a part of our past and our history, but he’s a part of our everyday.”
The “Will & Grace” alum went into the show with no construction experience, but according to People, he swung a sledgehammer, tore down panels and drilled.
Jordan turned to the couple’s former son-in-law, Del Shores, to dig for ideas while keeping the secret. Shores told People, “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,’”
5. Rosemary & Newell Have 5 Kids
Rosemary and Newell are parents, grandparents and great-grandparents.
In 2020, Rosemary shared a throwback photo of the couple, captioning the Instagram post, “The year before we moved to Hollywood to start acting careers- about 1971. Newell titled this ‘it’s gonna be a wild ride’. We had 5 kids so he called it right.”
She often documents her family on Instagram. In a June 2022 post, she wished a happy first Father’s Day to new dads everywhere, including, “the Father of my great granddaughter Tyler Milligan.”
The couple also remains close to their former son-in-law, Del Shores. According to IMDb, he was married to their daughter Kelley Alexander before coming out as gay in 1995. The former couple shares two daughters, Rebecca and Caroline.
“Celebrity IOU” premieres on HGTV on Monday, November 14, 2022, at 9 p.m. Eastern and Pacific times. It is also available to stream on discovery+.