TMZ brings the tragic news that American actor Tom Lester, best known for playing the part of Eb Dawson in the 60s sitcom Green Acres, has passed away at the age of 81. Lester reportedly died from complications with Parkinson's Disease and is survived by his fiancée and longtime caregiver, Jackie. Green Acres marked Lester's first major acting job, appearing in 150 episodes of the series and reprising the part of "Eb" on fellow CBS series' Petticoat Junction and The Beverly Hillbillies. He would go on to appear in television shows like Knight Rider and Little House on the Prairie, plus the 1974 classic Benji.
Born in Laurel, Mississippi, Lester persisted against calls from his local community against trying his hand at acting in Hollywood, as American Profile notes, ignoring people that said he was "too tall, too skinny, too ugly" to succeed on the west coast. Lester would continue acting in plays and theater before landing the part of Eb, beating out 400 other actors that auditioned for the part.
“I might not make it, but at least I’m going to try,” Lester told "Faith Forward" about his journey to stardom. “And I would’ve rather gone out there and tried and failed than to never have gone out there at all. And I read an article once where they asked Don Knotts who was Barney Fife on ‘The Andy Griffith Show,' 'How in the world did you ever get into movies?’ Because he didn’t look anything at all like Rock Hudson. And he said, ‘I figure everybody in Hollywood was good-looking and had a good physique. I figure they needed somebody a little different.’ And he was.”0comments
Lester starred as the character on Green Acres from 1965 to 1971 when the series concluded. He would go on to reprise his role as the character in the 1990 TV movie Return to Green Acres nearly twenty years later. His final acting credit is for the 2014 comedy Campin' Buddies.
(Cover photo by Silver Screen Collection/Getty Images)