US Senator and Popular Law & Order Actor Fred Dalton Thompson Dies at 73

Thompson made his Broadway debut in 2013 in ”A Time to Kill”.

Former U.S. Senator and television, film, and stage actor Fred Dalton Thompson has died at 73.
Former U.S. Senator and television, film, and stage actor Fred Dalton Thompson has died at 73.

Fred Dalton Thompson, former United States senator and actor, died yesterday in Nashville, Tennessee, after a recurrence of lymphoma. He was 73.

Thompson began his career as an attorney, working as an assistant U.S. attorney from 1969-1972. He then moved into the political arena, serving as campaign manager for Republican U.S. Senator Howard Baker's reelection campaign in 1972 and as minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee in its investigation of the Watergate scandal.

He entered the Senate in 1994 when he was elected to complete the remaining two years of Al Gore's unexpired term in Tennessee. He was reelected in 1996 and served through 2002. He joined the 2008 Presidential race as a Republican candidate, withdrawing in January 2008.

The 1985 film Marie launched Thompson's acting career. It was adapted from the book based on the corruption investigation instigated by whistleblower Marie Fajardo Ragghianti in the late 1970s. Thompson was her attorney during the proceeding trial and played himself in the film. He went on to take roles in a number of other films including No Way Out, The Hunt for Red October, Die Hard 2, Days of Thunder, and many more. In 2002, he joined the NBC television series Law & Order, playing conservative District Attorney Arthur Branch for the next five years. In 2013, Thompson made his Broadway debut as Judge Omar Noose in the stage adaptation of John Grisham's A Time to Kill.

Thompson was first diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2004. In 2007, he stated, "I have had no illness from it, or even any symptoms. My life expectancy should not be affected. I am in remission, and it is very treatable with drugs if treatment is needed in the future — and with no debilitating side effects."

In 1959, at the age of 17, Thompson married his first wife Sarah Elizabeth Lindsey, with whom he had three children. The couple divorced in 1985. Their daughter Elizabeth "Betsy" Thompson Panici died from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs on January 30, 2002. Thompson had two children with his second wife, Jeri Kehn, whom he married in 2002.