Gone too soon. Tom Lester, best known for his role on the ’60s sitcom Green Acres, died at age 81 on Monday, April 21, according to his obituary in The Laurel Leader Call. The iconic old Hollywood star’s death was due to complications related to his battle with Parkinson’s Disease.
The local newspaper in Jones Country, Mississippi — where Tom was from — revealed the longtime actor died in Nashville at the home alongside his fiancée and long-term caregiver, Jackie Peters.
Tom got his big break in Hollywood in the mid-60s following his move to Los Angeles from his small town in Mississippi. After getting his start in plays, Tom quickly landed the role of Eb Dawson in Green Acres.
Besides portraying Eb on the comedy sitcom’s six seasons from 1965 to 1971, Tom went on to act in other films and TV shows. Throughout the late ’60s and early ’70s, he appeared on the TV show’s spin-off, Petticoat Junction, as well as a few crossover guest visits as Eb on The Beverly Hillbillies.
In 1974, Tom landed a supporting role in beloved animal movie Benji, which eventually led to his part in 1994’s Gordy. In 2014, Tom marked his last acting credit when he starred alongside Ray Stevens in Campin’ Buddies, a film about two elderly men who enter a contest to win a hillbilly bus.
Despite his iconic run in Hollywood, friends who knew Tom outside the fame and fortune praised him for being a humble and genuine person. In fact, lifelong pals and fellow church-goers Carey Hauenstein and Margie Hauenstein gushed about the late star to The Laurel Leader Call.
“What you saw on TV was what you got,” Carey sweetly shared following the news of Tom’s death. “He was a born-again Christian and he’d let you know that to start with. But off the screen, he didn’t change a bit.”
“Tom went to heaven and took a lot of people with him, because everyone he met, he made sure they loved the Lord,” Margie added. “He never showed a lack of patience. He treated everyone like a king.”
We’re going to miss you, Tom!