Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Terry Lester (April 13, 1950 - November 28, 2003) was born in Indianapolis, Indiana and began an acting career while in the Army. After years of musical theater, concert performances and various primetime TV guest starring roles, Lester had his big break when he joined CBS daytime soap The Young and the Restless in 1980. He created the role of Jack Abbott, a scoundrel who never met a woman (including his own father's wife) he didn't want to take to bed. Lester was so popular that Y&R creator Bill Bell wrote an entire family for him. Y&R was going through a transition period at this time and many fans believe that Lester's star quality helped the show build more viewers and eventually rise to #1 in the daytime soap ratings.
In spite of his massive popularity, by the end of the decade Lester knew his role on the show was steadily declining. In 1989 he not only quit Y&R but took the rare step of going to the daytime press and singling out Bill Bell's young daughter, Lauralee Bell (who played ingenue Cricket Blair), for his dwindling storyline. He felt the excess airtime given to her came at the expense of him and other actors. Lester switched to NBC to take over the role of Mason Capwell on Santa Barbara for a year. In 1992 he joined As the World Turns to play the charming Royce Keller, who was soon revelead to be suffering from multiple personalities which caused him to kill his own sister. The role was very complex, causing raves for Lester, but the headwriter behind the story died suddenly in 1993 and once again Lester began to have diminished screentime. He left the series in 1994. The rest of his life consisted of a few shots in primetime shows such as Walker, Texas Ranger along with various tours in musicals and plays. To the shock of many fans, friends, and family members, in 2003 Lester died at home of multiple heart attacks. He was only 53.
Lester kept his personal life under wraps but a 2003 LA Magazine article on former soap star Thom Bierdz stated that Lester (along with Michael Corbett and Bierdz) made up a trio of closeted gay actors who worked on Y&R in the 80's.
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