Fred Thompson, the folksy former US senator from Tennessee and Hollywood actor, has died after losing a battle to lymphoma, his family said Sunday. He was 73.
“It is with a heavy heart and deep sense of grief that we share the passing of our brother, husband, father and grandfather who died peacefully in Nashville surrounded by his family,” the family said in a statement.
The Republican jumped back and forth between acting and politics. His eight-year tenure in the Senate ended in 2003.
Born in Alabama, Thompson first married at 17 and studied law.
As an attorney, he helped press the investigation that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon. Thompson served as chief Republican counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee that investigated Nixon.
The former senator known for a straight-talking style and booming voice appeared on television’s popular “Law and Order” series, playing Manhattan District Attorney Arthur Branch, and in films such as “The Hunt for Red October,” “No Way Out” and “Cape Fear.”
“Fred believed that the greatness of our nation was defined by the hard work, faith and honesty of its people,” the family statement said.
“He had an enduring belief in the exceptionalism of our country, and that America could provide the opportunity for any boy or girl, in any corner of our country, to succeed in life.”
Thompson ran for the Republican presidential nomination of 2008 but dropped out after failing to gain enough traction.
He is survived by four children, two of them from his first marriage to Sarah Elizabeth Lindsey and two from his now widow Jeri Kehn Thompson. He also had several grandchildren.
Thompson had a fifth child who died in 2002 from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs.
On the campaign trail, he had pointed to his daughter Betsy’s death as an example of why local and federal governments should not play a role in making end-of-life decisions for a family.