Freddie “Fred” Dalton Thompson was an attorney, a United States Senator from Tennessee, a lobbyist, a candidate for the U. S. Presidency in 2008, an actor who worked in movies and television, and a radio talk-show host, died today. Reports are that he died at the age of 73 from lymphoma.
He was born in Alabama but grew up in Lawrenceburg, TN, a small town known as the “Crossroads of Dixie.” Following his graduation from law school in 1967 he became an assistant U. S. attorney and worked as the minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee during its investigation of the Watergate Scandal. Some credit Thompson as the author of a question asked by Senator Howard Baker during the investigation, “What did the president know and when did he know it.”
His acting career began when he played himself in the 1985 movie Marie and from there went on to 1987’s No Way Out where or portrayed the director of the CIA. He followed that up with roles in The Hunt for Red October, Die Hard II, In the Line of Fire, and many others. Then after playing an FBI agent in 1994’s Baby’s Day Out, Fred Thompson became the junior U. S. Senator from Tennessee, being elected to replace Al Gore. He won reelection in 1996.
Aside from taking one voiceover movie part and a guest-appearance on TV’s Sex and the City, he did not resume acting until his March 2002 announcement that he would not seek reelection to his U. S. Senate seat. Months later it was announced that he would be joining the cast of NBC’s Law & Order as “Arthur Branch” the Manhattan District Attorney. It was a role he would continue in until 2007 when he left to begin his campaign for the presidential nomination of the Republican party in 2008. A campaign that did not last long as he withdrew from the race in January of 2008.
Fred Dalton Thompson was the only sitting U. S. Senator to ever portray someone other than themselves on television as his first appearance on Law & Order occurred before the expiration of his term in the U. S. Senate. He remains the only actor appearing on the show and its various spin-offs who was a prosecutor in real-life. Married twice, he is survived by his wife Jeri and five of his six children.