Fred Thompson, former U.S. senator and actor, dies at 73

Fred Thompson, a former U.S. Senator and Republican presidential candidate, as well as a film and television actor, died Sunday, his family said.

According to their statement, Thompson died in Nashville from a recurrence of lymphoma at age 73.

“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 said.

Thompson served as a U.S. senator from Tennessee for two terms before retiring from the seat in 2003, saying he didn’t “have the heart” for another term, the Associated Press reported.

In 2007, he mounted a campaign to run for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination but ultimately dropped out after faring poorly.

“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,” the family statement said. “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.”

Earlier in his political career, Thompson served as an attorney on the congressional committee that investigated the Watergate scandal, playing a behind-the-scenes role in the hearings that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

“Fred believed that the greatness of our nation was defined by the hard work, faith, and honesty of its people,” the statement 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. “

Thompson was also well-known for his appearances on TV and in movies. He played the district attorney on NBC’s “Law and Order” for five seasons and appeared in more than 20 films, including “The Hunt for Red October,” “In the Line of Fire” and “Cape Fear.”

“He enjoyed a hearty laugh, a strong handshake, a good cigar, and a healthy dose of humility,” the statement said. “Fred was the same man on the floor of the Senate, the movie studio, or the town square of Lawrenceburg, his home.”

Thompson is survived by his son, Freddie Dalton “Tony” Thompson, Jr., and his wife Jeri Kehn and their two young children, according to The Tennessean.