Fred ThompsonActor / U.S. Senator / Lawyer
Born: 19 August 1942
Birthplace: Sheffield, Alabama
Best known as: Actor and U.S. Senator from Tennessee (1994-2003)
Fred Dalton Thompson is a Washington-Hollywood hybrid, a twice-elected United States senator and an actor who starred in movies and the TV series Law & Order. Thompson grew up in Tennessee and began a law career in 1967. He served as a U.S. Attorney (1969-72) and got involved in national politics under Tennessee Senator Howard Baker, an association that put Senate co-counsel Thompson smack in the middle of the investigation of Watergate and the Richard Nixon White House (1973-74). He fell into acting when invited to play himself in the movie Marie (1985), a drama based on a real-life political scandal in Tennessee, in which Thompson defended whistleblower Marie Ragghianti. Thompson was a natural on screen, and during the 1980s he had a remarkable run of authoritarian character roles in top-tier features such as No Way Out (1987, starring Kevin Costner), Days of Thunder (1990, starring Tom Cruise), The Hunt for Red October (1990, starring Sean Connery) and In the Line of Fire (1993, starring Clint Eastwood). Thompson returned to Tennessee and national politics in 1994 and was elected to the U.S. Senate (filling the seat formerly held by Al Gore, who had become vice president under Bill Clinton). A Republican, Thompson was re-elected in 1996, but chose not to run again in 2002. He then joined the cast of TV's Law & Order, but continued to maintain a profile in Washington. (He reportedly helped John Roberts get through his 2005 confirmation to the Supreme Court.) Thompson's camera-friendly paternalism and conservative ideology have brought comparisons to former actor/president Ronald Reagan. Thompson quit his role on Law & Order in May of 2007 in order to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2008. He announced his run on 6 September 2007, but dropped out of the race on 22 January 2008 after performing poorly in early primaries. He has since hosted a radio show and a television show, but serves mostly as an occasional guest on political entertainment programs.
Extra credit: Thompson attended Memphis State University and got his law degree from Vanderbilt... He made a deal with ABC News Radio in 2006 to serve as an on-air commentator. He occasionally fills in for radio legend Paul Harvey... Thompson is 6'6" tall, according to a 2007 article in USA Today.
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