Fred Thompson, a former Republican U.S. senator from Tennessee who also ran for president and was a longtime film and television actor, has died at age 73, the Nashville Tennessean reported on Sunday.
"It is with a heavy heart and a 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 statement said.
The tall, imposing Thompson was elected to the Senate in 1994 and served until 2003. He briefly ran for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination.
He worked as an actor before and after his political career, appearing in supporting roles in such films as "No Way Out," "The Hunt for Red October," and "Days of Thunder." His most notable television role was as conservative New York District Attorney Arthur Branch in the long-running "Law and Order" series, in which he appeared from 2002 to 2007.
The Alabama-born Thompson first gained popular attention as a legal counsel on the Senate Watergate Committee investigating the 1972 break-in at Democratic Party headquarters in Washington. In July 1973, Thompson asked the question that led to the disclosure by White House aide Alexander Butterfield of a taping system inside the White House.
The existence of the tapes played a pivotal role in the investigation of the Watergate cover-up and the 1974 resignation of President Richard Nixon.
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