Former Tennessee senator and actor Fred Thompson has died from lymphoma at the age of 73, his family said.
Fred Thompson had various film roles and starred in the TV series Law & Order and also mounted an unsuccessful bid for the presidency.
As a lawyer, Fred Thompson served as chief Republican counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee that investigated President Richard Nixon.
The former senator – his last term ended in 2003 – was known for his straight-talking style and booming voice.
“Fred was the same man on the floor of the Senate, the movie studio, or the town square of … his home,” his family said in a statement.
Fred Thompson ran for the Republican presidential nomination in the 2008 election but dropped out after failing to gain enough support.
The son of a used car salesman first achieved fame as a young lawyer for a Senate committee during the Watergate hearings in the 1970s.
His questioning of former Richard Nixon aide Alexander Butterfield uncovered the president’s secret tape recording system.
The lawyer’s acting career began when he was asked to read for a movie part based on one of his high-profile cases.
Fred Thompson ended up playing himself in the 1985 movie Marie, starring Sissy Spacek and Morgan Freeman.
Directors frequently turned to Fred Thompson to portray government power and he had roles as White House chief of staff, CIA director, FBI agent, rear admiral and senator.
He was also cast as a fictional president in the little-known film Last Best Chance and as President Ulysses S. Grant in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.
Years later, Fred Thompson became best known for his role as a district attorney in the New York crime series Law & Order.
“Fred believed that the greatness of our nation was defined by the hard work, faith and honesty of its people,” the statement issued by his family said.
“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.”
Fred Thompson is survived by five children, three of them from his first marriage Sarah Elizabeth Lindsey and two from his second to Jeri Kehn Thompson.