|Born||Thomas William Lester
September 23, 1938
Laurel, Mississippi, U.S.
|Occupation||Actor and Evangelist|
Thomas William "Tom" Lester (born September 23, 1938) is an American actor and evangelist. He is best known for his role as farmhand, Eb Dawson on the television series Green Acres, and appeared in the movies Gordy and Benji.
Lester was born in Laurel, Mississippi. A young boy in 1948, he became a Born-again Christian and became involved in the Baptist church. 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.
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 also 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, California. In his early 20s, he attended the First Baptist Church of Beverly Hills, California.
After Green Acres, Lester was typecast. He returned home to his parents in Laurel, Mississippi. On May 26, 2005, his Green Acres series' star and close friend Eddie Albert died. Lester was the only one of the four surviving Green Acres stars not to attend the funeral (the ones who did attend were Frank Cady, Sid Melton, and Mary Grace Canfield), even though Albert had once said that Lester was his best and closest friend on the show, and that they had kept in touch.
TV Career Role as "Eb Dawson"
In the early 1960s, Thomas Lester performed in a play with CBS producer Paul Henning's daughter Linda Kaye (Betty Jo of Petticoat Junction) and soon found himself auditioning for the role of "Eb Dawson" that audiences will best remember on "Green Acres". Lester beat out 400 other young actors to play the character after a screen test. His recurring role with Eddie Albert's character was eventually a regular character, thanks to him being so popular, in turn made him a household name. He appeared in many Green Acres episodes between 1965–71, with the exception of the first half in the 1967–68 season when he suffered mononucleosis. In 1990 he reunited with Albert and Gabor to reprise his Eb Dawson role in Return to Green Acres. With the death of Frank Cady, who played general store owner Sam Drucker, Lester is one of two surviving cast members of the series, and the only male. Mary Grace Canfield, who played carpenter Ralph Monroe, is the other surviving cast member.