ByRicky Derisz, writer at
Staff Writer at MP. "Holy cow, Rick! I didn't know hanging out with you was making me smarter!" Twitter: @RDerisz.
Ricky Derisz

Actor and ex-US senator Fred Thompson, who starred in films including Die Hard 2 and Cape Fear as well as a prominent role on TV show Law & Order, has died at the age of 73.

Thompson had an illustrious career on screen and off. Not many can claim to be an integral part of uncovering one of the biggest political scandals in history, star opposite stars such as Bruce Willis and Paul Newman, AND run for president.

Thompson, (2nd right), on set of Law & Order
Thompson, (2nd right), on set of Law & Order

He passed away on Sunday following a recurrence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of cancer, which he was first diagnosed with in 2004.

A family statement read:

“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.”

An onscreen authority

In a distinguished career which spanned many decades, he initially worked as an attorney, before his first acting appearance in the 1985 film Marie. The film was based upon true events and Thompson portrayed himself, representing a whistleblower trying to expose a corrupt government.

Thompson opposite Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2
Thompson opposite Bruce Willis in Die Hard 2

Many of his roles following were characters of authority, often Presidents, high ranking political staff, FBI agents or CIA agents, inspired by his deep voice, towering height and air of command. In Die Hard 2, he played Ed Trudeau, the chief operations officer for the under-siege airport.

He starred opposite Tom Cruise and Robert Duvall in Days of Thunder (1990), Paul Newman in Fat Man and Little Boy (1989) and Alec Baldwin in The Hunt for Red October (1990) (video below).

On TV, he became a well known face as District Attorney Arthur Branch in Law & Order, appearing on the show for five years. You can see his final scene on the show below:

He also appeared in Sex and the City, Roseanne, and The Good Wife, amongst many others.

Watergate hearings and political career

Away from the screen, Thompson had a political and legal career that was distinguished and impressive in itself. During the Senate Watergate hearings, he was the attorney whose question to a White House aide led to the revelation Nixon had recorded conversations in office.

Thompson during the Watergate hearings
Thompson during the Watergate hearings

He then moved into politics, representing Tennessee as a Republican for in the US Senate from 1994 to 2003. Eventually, he ran for presidency in 2008, but his campaign struggled and he eventually withdrew after finishing in 3rd place in the South Carolina primary.

Source: The Guardian, The Washington Post, Wikipedia


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