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For the American football coach, see Tom Lester (American football).
Tom Lester
Born Thomas William Lester
(1938-09-23) September 23, 1938 (age 76)
Laurel, Mississippi, U.S.
Occupation Actor and Evangelist
Religion Christian
Signature TomLester.png

Thomas William "Tom" Lester (born September 23, 1938) is an American actor and evangelist. He is best known for his role as Oliver Wendell Douglas's (played by Eddie Albert) farmhand Eb Dawson on the television series Green Acres, and he appeared in two feature animal films Gordy and Benji.

Early life[edit]

Lester was born in Laurel, Mississippi, the first of two children (both sons) of Pat Lester (1913-2009), a bookkeeper with Gulf Oil, and Mary Sue (Thornton) Lester (1914-2009).[1] A young boy in 1948, Tom became a Born-again Christian and became involved in the Baptist church.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4]

"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.[5]

In the early 1960s, Lester performed in one of those showcase plays with CBS producer Paul Henning's daughter Linda Kaye (Betty Jo of Petticoat Junction), and Lester 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.[6]

His recurring role was eventually a regular character, thanks to the character's popularity and the show's popularity, which combined made Lester a household name. 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.[7] And because the Green Acres characters also appeared in episodes of CBS series Petticoat Junction and The Beverly Hillbillies, Lester as Eb Dawson also occasionally appeared on those shows.

Even during the show's height of popularity, Dawson lived simply in a small apartment atop a garage in the San Fernando Valley. During the show's summer hiatus each year, 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.[8]

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. After six seasons, Green Acres was cancelled in 1971 as part of CBS's "rural purge".[9]

After Green Acres[edit]

In 1990, Lester reunited with Albert and Gabor to reprise his Eb Dawson role in Return to Green Acres.[10] However, after Green Acres, Lester was forever typecast as Eb Dawson.

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 Prairie, Marcus 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.

Lester is a farmer and for many years has been a Christian speaker who travels the nation, preaching a message of faith and obedience.[11][12] He still participates in autograph shows and fan forums, often dressed as Eb Dawson.[13][14]

Lester was married in July, 2007 at the age of 68. He and his wife, Kaylie, live on the 250-acre family farm in Vossburg, Mississippi.[15] In 1997, Lester was the recipient of Mississippi's "Wildlife Farmer of the Year" award.[16]

With the death of Mary Grace Canfield on February 15, 2014, Lester is the only surviving regular cast member of Green Acres.[17]

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 iconic movie actor/singer and future Academy-Award winner, Eddie Albert, who was referred by the young, unfamiliar actor, as his 'surrogate father,' off- the set. The two had a wonderful on- and off-screen chemistry for six years, and became very popular. It should also be noted that Albert also taught Lester how to eat right, as well. The two also guest-starred on its sequel The Beverly Hillbillies, which featured Albert's good friend, Buddy Ebsen, for 1 episode. When Green Acres was finally canceled in 1971, both Albert and Lester remained close friends and continued to stay in touch with him, for 34 years, until Albert's own death.[18]

In 1990, Lester along with Albert and Eva Gabor would be reunited for one last time to star in Return to Green Acres, years before losing Gabor, on Independence Day, 1995 (almost 30 years after Green Acres made its debut), both Albert and Lester attended Eva's funeral, just a few days later. Then, a decade later, on May 26, 2005, while Lester was receiving dozens of phone calls that day, he received word when he finally lost his acting mentor and best friend, Albert, to Alzheimer's disease, though Albert had primarily been healthy for most of his adult life. Lester was the only Green Acres star not to attend Albert's funeral.[19]


External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Lester — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
198034 videos foundNext > 

Tom "Eb" Lester Testimony

Tom Lester who played "Eb" on the hit TV show Green Acres gives his testimony. Listen as he tells about the influence of God in his life and because of follo...

Eb Dawson (Tom Lester) funny wheat quote.

Eb Dawson gives Mr. Douglas grief -- with a smile.

Tom Lester & Paul Ott - Mr & Mrs America

Paul Ott, host of the radio & television show "Listen to the Eagle," has released a CD/DVD combo pack of his religious recordings. The disc is entitled "The ...

Tom Logan Directing Ray Stevens, Victoria Jackson, Tom Lester on "Campin' Buddies"

Tom Logan Director of Feature Film - Campin' Buddies.

Maurice Mitchell and Tom Lester interview after 2011 NCAA Meet

Tom Lester .mov

Tom Lester sings and plays his own song on a Brook Guitar.

[My Talking Tom] Lester's BedTime Routine!

Check out this video I made with My Talking Tom. Get the app: http://o7n.co/MyTom Recorded and uploaded with Kamcord (http://kamcord.com/v/7mGxRjvJ1TC/).

Tom Lester after Maurice Mitchell's 2nd place 200 final @ Olympic Trials

[My Talking Tom] Lester Has Grown Up!

Check out this video I made with My Talking Tom. Get the app: http://o7n.co/MyTom Recorded and uploaded with Kamcord (http://kamcord.com/v/4K3eAgQTV3A/).

Maurice Mitchell's Raytown South High School Sprint Coach Tom Lester interview after NCAAs

198034 videos foundNext > 

76 news items

Bradford Telegraph and Argus

Bradford Telegraph and Argus
Thu, 13 Feb 2014 03:03:45 -0800

Pool cricketer Tom Lester, who also plays friendlies for the Hawks, has been selected to play for the British Army on their two-week tour of St Lucia at the end of the month. The 17-year-old, whose mum Sally lives at Apperley Bridge and dad 'Ted' lives ...
Montana Standard
Tue, 13 Aug 2013 02:03:39 -0700

TOM LESTER, far left, a member of the 1956 graduating class at Butte's Boys' Central High School, excelled at many sports as a prep athlete. In this file photo, Lester is receiving an award for his achievements on the Central track and field team ...
Paris Post Intelligencer
Mon, 13 Feb 2012 10:43:19 -0800

Tom Lester, aka Eb Dawson from the television comedy “Green Acres,” jokes with the members of New Harmony Baptist Church's Joy Group during the group's banquet Saturday night. Saturday was declared Tom Lester Day by Henry County Mayor Brent ...
Valley News Live
Fri, 19 Sep 2014 05:56:15 -0700

Billingham, Washington, cyclist Tom Lester took his first ride on the trail Thursday. He was impressed by the Hill City to Rochford route as he searched for a spot to stop and fish. "All working for me. It's very pretty," Lester says. "different than ...

Bellingham Herald

Bellingham Herald
Sun, 13 Jul 2014 04:03:38 -0700

The lower average wage for those in Whatcom County's legal profession doesn't come as a surprise to Tom Lester, a local attorney who specializes in helping clients with bankruptcies. He said a variety of factors are at play, including competition.
Mon, 22 Sep 2014 22:04:25 -0700

Actor Tom Lester (Eb Dawson on "Green Acres") is 76. Singer Julio Iglesias is 71. Actor Paul Petersen ("The Donna Reed Show") is 69. Actress-singer Mary Kay Place is 67. Singer Bruce Springsteen is 65. Former child actor Jimmy Garrett ("The Lucy Show") ...
The Tennessean
Sun, 25 May 2014 10:41:06 -0700

Stevens is in Shreveport, La., for a three-week shoot, alongside co-stars Tom Lester, who previously played "Eb" on "Green Acres," and "Saturday Night Live" alumna Victoria Jackson, who lives in Middle Tennessee. "I love (Jackson). She's funny, and a ...

Sarasota Herald-Tribune (blog)

Sarasota Herald-Tribune (blog)
Tue, 06 May 2014 02:44:08 -0700

Kudos and congrats to the Sarasota Military Academy Rifle Team, which took First Place out of 24 teams at the Florida State JROTC Marksmanship Championship held in Cape Coral on April 26th. The state championship is an "sporter class only" tournament, ...

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