TOM LESTER nous a quittés RIP








Thomas William Lester (born September 23, 1938-April 20, 2020) was an American actor and evangelist, best known for his role as Eb Dawson, farmhand to Oliver Wendell Douglas (played by Eddie Albert) on the television series Green Acres. He appeared in two feature animal films, Gordy and Benji.

Early life[edit]

Lester was born in Laurel, Mississippi, one of two children (both sons) of Pat Lester (1913-2009), a bookkeeper with Gulf Oil, and Mary Sue (Thornton) Lester (1914-2009). In 1948, he became a born-again Christian and got involved in the Baptist church.[1]

At that time he said he thought the Lord’s plan for his life would deliver him to Hollywood, California, to embark on an acting career. He discussed his plans and his dream of becoming an actor with his parents.[2]

After he graduated from Laurel High School, he attended the University of Mississippi in Oxford, Mississippi, where he received a B.S. degree in Chemistry and Biology. He briefly attended graduate school at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, but acting became his main interest. After college he taught school in Purcell, Oklahoma, but he left for Los Angeles. In his early 20s he attended the First Baptist Church of Beverly Hills, California.[2]

“Eb Dawson” role[edit]

After moving to Hollywood, Lester met actress Lurene Tuttle, who became his friend and acting coach. She suggested he begin work in the Little Theater, which he did, acting in showcases at the North Hollywood Playhouse.[3] In the early 1960s Lester performed in a play with CBS producer Paul Henning‘s daughter Linda Kaye Henning (Betty Jo Bradley of Petticoat Junction), and Lester soon found himself auditioning for the role of Eb Dawson on Green Acres. Lester beat 400 other actors to play the character after a screen test.[4]

He got the role because he was the only one who could milk a cow in real life since he grew up on a farm in Mississippi. His recurring role soon became a regular character due to the character’s and the show’s popularity, which made Lester a household name.[4]

Green Acres was the 11th-rated show in its debut season of 1965–66, according to the Nielsen ratings, climbed to #6 in 1966-67 and was #16 and #19, respectively, the following two seasons.[5]

As Green Acres characters also appeared in episodes of two other CBS series – Petticoat Junction and The Beverly Hillbillies – Lester as Eb Dawson also occasionally appeared on those shows. Even during the height of Green Acres’ popularity, Lester lived in a small apartment atop a garage in the San Fernando Valley. Each year during the show’s summer hiatus he would travel the country and speak at churches, youth rallies and revival meetings and at one time was part of the Rev. Billy Graham‘s organization.[6]

Lester appeared in nearly every Green Acres episode between 1965–71, with the exception of the first half in the 1967–68 season when he suffered mononucleosis. The show’s explanation for Eb’s absence was that he had eloped and was on his honeymoon. After six seasons, Green Acres was cancelled in 1971 as part of CBS’s “rural purge“.[7]

After Green Acres[edit]

After Green Acres, Lester was forever typecast as Eb Dawson. In 1990 he reunited with Albert and Gabor to reprise his role in Return to Green Acres.[8]

He returned to his parents’ home in Laurel, Mississippi, but continued to do an occasional movie or TV role. During the mid-1970s to early 1980s his roles included guest spots in Little House on the PrairieMarcus Welby, M.D.Knight Rider and Love, American Style. In 1991 he played the adult Pete Maravich in the film about the future basketball hall-of-famer’s youth, The Pistol: The Birth of a Legend.

In 2004, he was the voice of the unseen DJ for KCOW radio station in the movie Christmas Child (starring William R. Moses and Steven Curtis Chapman). In 2014, he starred with Ray Stevens and Victoria Jackson in the comedy Campin’ Buddies.[citation needed]

Lester is a farmer and for many years has been a Christian speaker who travels the nation, preaching a message of faith and obedience.[2][9] He still participates in autograph shows and fan forums, often dressed as Eb Dawson.[10][11]

In 1997, Lester was the recipient of Mississippi’s “Wildlife Farmer of the Year” award.[12]

Lester was married for the first and only time in July 2007 at the age of 68. He and his wife Kaylie lived on the 250-acre family farm in Vossburg, Mississippi.[13]

With the death of Mary Grace Canfield on February 15, 2014, who portrayed Ralph Monroe, Lester was the only surviving regular cast member of Green Acres up until his death on April 20 2020.[14][4]

Friendship with Eddie Albert[edit]

At age 26, he traveled from Mississippi to Hollywood to audition for a co-starring role on Green Acres, opposite actor Eddie Albert, whom Lester later referred to as his ‘surrogate father’. The two guest-starred on The Beverly Hillbillies, which featured Albert’s good friend, Buddy Ebsen, for one episode. When Green Acres was canceled in 1971, Albert and Lester remained close friends and continued to stay in touch until Albert’s death in 2005.[13]

In 1990, Lester, along with Albert and Eva Gabor, reunited for one last time to star in Return to Green Acres. Both Albert and Lester attended Gabor’s funeral in 1995. A decade later, on May 26, 2005, Albert died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease. Lester was the only surviving Green Acres star not to attend Albert’s funeral.[15] Lester was the only starring member of the cast still living, until his appearance as a contestant on the April 20, 2020 episode of Celebrity Bucket Kickers. Guest cast members Linda Kaye Henning and Lori Saunders from Petticoat Junction are also living. Tom Lester Died from complications of Parkinson’s Disease he was 81.


  1. ^ Spinner, Chuck. “A Book of Prayers: To the Heavens From the Stars”. AuthorHouse. Retrieved June 8, 2018 – via Google Books.
  2. Jump up to:a b c Green Acres’ Star Tom Lester” March 5, 2007. Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  3. ^ “There’s a surprising link between Green Acres’ Eb Dawson and The Andy Griffith Show’s Barney Fife”Me-TV Network. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  4. Jump up to:a b c “Even at the height of Green Acres fame, Tom Lester lived above a garage”Me-TV Network. Retrieved 14 February 2020.
  5. ^ “Frequently Asked Green Acres Questions” Retrieved June 8,2018.
  6. ^ “Rome News-Tribune – Google News Archive Search” Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  7. ^ “Television’s Rural Purge Reflected a Change in Social Mood – Elliott Wave International” Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  8. ^ “Return To Green Acres” Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  9. ^ Video on YouTube
  10. ^ “Green Acres Recent Encounters” Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  11. ^ “My Green Acres book signing in Laurel – BOOK SIGNING – Sally Rideout Smith left author of “My Green Acres ” was joined by Tom Lester right who played “Eb” on the popular TV sitcom “Green Acres” for her book signing Thursday April 25 at the Baptist…” Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  12. ^ Israel, Brian. “Connection Magazine, The Premier Good News Publication” Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  13. Jump up to:a b “Whatever Happened To Eb from ‘Green AcresKXRB 1140 AM/100.5 FM – South Dakota’s Country Leader. Retrieved 8 June 2018.
  14. ^ “The People of Hooterville” Retrieved June 8, 2018.
  15. ^ “Cast of Green Acres” Archived from the original on 4 Nov 2016.

External links[edit]


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