Believed to be the last surviving cast member from the sixties sitcom “Green Acres”, Tom Lester died April 20 in Nashville at the age of 81 as a result of complications from Parkinson’s Disease. Lester was in the home of his fiancee and caregiver Jackie at the time of his death.
Lester is best known for his role as country bumpkin Eb Dawson. He reprised the role in 1990 in the TV movie “Return to Green Acres”. Reportedly Lester earned the role of the Douglas’ farm hand because he alone knew how to milk a cow.
Along with his appearance in 150 episodes of “Green Acres”, Lester appeared in a little over a dozen productions including “Petticoat Junction”, “The Beverly Hillbillies”, “Love, American Style”, “Marcus Welby, M.D.”, “Benji”, “Little House on the Prairie”, the original “Knight Rider”, an episode of the daytime drama “Santa Barbara”, and “The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend”.
Thomas William Lester was born September 23, 1938 in Jackson, Mississippi where he spent a his childhood on his grandfather’s farm. He graduated from the University of Mississippi with degrees in biology and chemistry.
Before moving to Hollywood, Lester spent a few years teaching in Purcell, Oklahoma.
Even after making it in Hollywood, Lester remained close to the Mississippi farming community where he owned a 250 acre farm. He was presented with the Mississippi’s Wildlife Farmer of the Year award in 1997.
Lester’s survivors include his brother Michael and fiancee Jackie Peters.
Feature photo credit: Fan of Tom Lester (Eb Dawson of “Green Acres” Facebook page