Former Senator, Republican presidential candidate and Law and Order actor Fred Thompson died in Tennessee after a recurrence of lymphoma Sunday. He was 73.
Thompson’s family announced the news in a statement published in the Tennessean which read, “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 continued by saying that “Fred once said that the experiences he had growing up in small-town Tennessee formed the prism through which he viewed the world and shaped the way he dealt with life. Fred stood on principle and common sense, and had a deep love for and connection with the people across Tennessee whom he had the privilege to serve in the United States Senate. He enjoyed a hearty laugh, a strong handshake, a good cigar, and a healthy dose of humility. Fred was the same man on the floor of the Senate, the movie studio, or the town square of Lawrenceburg, his home.”
“Fred believed that the greatness of our nation was defined by the hard work, faith, and honesty of its people. 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 was a Tennessee-trained lawyer, prosecutor, movie and TV actor, a presidential hopeful and a counsel at the Watergate hearings, but more than that, he was a charismatic man who had a positive impact on many people.
“Very few people can light up the room the way Fred Thompson did,” U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. said. “He used his magic as a lawyer, actor, Watergate counsel, and United States senator to become one of our country’s most principled and effective public servants.”
Thompson’s rise to Senate was interesting to say the least. For a man who had never held a public office, it was unusual that he overwhelmingly won the 1994 special election for Al Gore’s old Senate seat, The Washington Post reports. In 1996, he won a six-year term.
After his time in the Senate, Thompson appeared at least 20 motion pictures, including Die Hard II and In the Line of Fire, as well as on Law & Order for five seasons. You may remember him as District Attorney Arthur Branch.
And in 2008, he was thought to be a contender in the early stages of the Republican primary cycle, Fox reports. However, he did not draw much support in the early states and lost big when he didn’t win South Carolina. He ended up dropping out of the race in January.
After dropping out of the race, he campaigned for John McCain and even sought support to become chairman of the Republican National Committee. He quit a few months afterward.
Thompson eventually retired from politics and hosted a conservative radio talk show between 2009 and 2011. He also became a TV advertising pitchman for the reverse mortgage financial company American Advisers Group.
“Fred Thompson lived life to the very fullest,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. in a statement. “The first in his family to go to college, Fred would go on to become Watergate lawyer, Senate colleague, presidential candidate, radio personality, and icon of silver and small screen alike who didn’t just take on criminals as an actor but as a real-life prosecutor too.”
Senator Bob Corker, R-Tenn, said something similar of Thompson in a statement Sunday night. “Fred Thompson served the people of Tennessee and America with great honor and distinction,” he said. “From the courtroom to Capitol Hill to Hollywood, his larger than life personality was infectious and had a way of making all of those around him strive to be better.”