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Former US Sen. Fred Thompson Dies at 73

Image: Former US Sen. Fred Thompson Dies at 73
Fred Thompson at the Republican National Convention in 2008.  (Getty Images)

By    |   Sunday, 01 November 2015 06:20 PM

Fred Thompson, a Republican U.S. senator from Tennessee for eight years who also acted in feature films and on television, has died, his family says in a statement.

The statement says Thompson died Sunday in Nashville after a recurrence of lymphoma at 73.

"It is with a heavy heart and a deep sense of grief that we share the passing of our brother, father and grandfather who died peacefully Nashville surrounded by his family," said the statement. It added, "Fred was the same man on the floor of the Senate, the movie studio, or the town square of ... his home."

The Sheffield, 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, who had managed the reelection campaign of Sen. Howard Baker of Tennessee, the top Republican on the committee, 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.

Four years later, while working in private practice in Tennessee, Thompson represented Marie Ragghianti, former chair of the Tennessee Parole Board, in a wrongful termination case against the state's governor. The trial exposed a scandal in which cash payments were being given to state officials in exchange for clemency.

The case was the subject of a book and a 1985 movie, "Marie," and started Thompson's acting career when he was offered the part of playing himself.

Thompson alternated between politics and acting much of his adult life. Once regarded as a rising star in the Senate, he retired from that seat when his term expired in January 2003, saying he didn't "have the heart" for another term.

He announced a bid for president in 2007 but dropped out in January 2008 after faring poorly in the early going.

Thompson, 6-foot-6 with a booming voice and folksy demeanor, appeared in at least 20 motion pictures. His credits include "In the Line of Fire," ''The Hunt for Red October," ''Die Hard II" and "Cape Fear."

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 Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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Fred Thompson, a former U.S. senator and Republican presidential candidate, as well as a film and TV actor, has died at age 73, the Nashville Tennessean reported Sunday.
fred, thompson, senate, tv, obituary
Sunday, 01 November 2015 06:20 PM
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