Actor Tom Lester, best known for playing Eb Dawson on iconic '60s sitcom Green Acres, died Monday due to complications related to Parkinson's Disease, reported TMZ the same day. Lester, 81, reportedly passed away Monday morning in Nashville at the home of his fiancee and longtime caregiver, Jackie.
Lester was a mainstay in 1960s television, first landing the role as Eb after moving to Hollywood from his native Mississippi. The young actor reportedly won out on his breakout role over 400 other actors, as he was the only one who could milk a cow due to his upbringing. After appearing on Green Acres for all six seasons, Lester went on to appear on its spinoff series Petticoat Junction, also making a few crossover guest spots on The Beverly Hillbillies.
"I told them I was going out to Hollywood to become an actor and they all said, 'You're crazy. You'll never be able to do that. You're too tall, too skinny, too ugly. You've got a Southern accent and you'll never make it in the motion picture business. You don't look like Rock Hudson,'" Lester recalled of the people in his hometown's reaction in a previous interview on Faith Forward.
He continued, "I might not make it, but at least I'm going to try. And I would've rather gone out there and tried and failed then 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 figured everybody in Hollywood was good-looking and had a good physique. I figured they needed somebody a little bit different.' And he was."
"I didn't figure there were a lot of folks like me in Hollywood, so the way I went, no job, no place to stay, didn't know anything about the motion picture business," he added of his start. After Green Acres, Lester went on to appear in two popular movies — Benji in 1974 and Gordy in 1994, while also appearing in a guest role on Knight Rider in the '80s. According to IMDB, Lester's most recent acting credit it for the 2014 comedy Campin' Buddies.