Tom Lester, best known for his role as the smart-aleck farmhand Eb Dawson on the ’60s sitcom “Green Acres,” died Monday in Nashville, Tennessee at the home of his fiancee and caregiver Jackie Peters, from complications related to Parkinson’s disease.
He was 81 and and his death was confirmed by his brother Michael on Facebook and in local media reports. He was survived by Michael and fiancee Jackie Peters and was the last surviving actor of the original “Green Acres” cast.
He was born Sep. 23, 1938 in Jackson, Miss., and grew up working on his grandfather’s farm. He earned a degree in chemistry at the University of Mississippi and taught in Oklahoma for a few years before making the move to Hollywood.
Lester landed his role in “Green Acres” in 1965, beating out the competition because he was the only actor who could actually milk a cow. He went on to star in “Green Acres” until the show’s end in 1971, also appearing in the two related series “Petticoat Junction” and “Beverly Hillbillies.”
After “Green Acres,” Lester appeared in movies such as “Benji” in 1974 and “Gordy” in 1994, as well as popular TV series like “Little House on the Prairie” and “Knight Rider.” Lester traveled the country to speak to religious gatherings and youth groups about Christianity.