Fred Dalton Thompson





Sheffield, Alabama, USA



Birth Name

Fred Dalton Thompson




Fred Thompson was a notable character actor in movies and television. He has also served as a United States Senator, a congressional staff attorney and an assistant federal prosecutor. He entered the race for the 2008 Republican nomination for the office of President of the United States although his campaign was unsuccessful.

Senator Thompson was a native of Tennessee. After earning his bachelor's degree from Memphis State University in 1964, he entered law school at Vanderbilt University. He became a member of the Tennessee bar in 1967.

After serving as an assistant federal prosecutor (Assistant United States Attorney), he served as Minority Counsel (Republican) for the Senate Watergate Committee that investigated the Nixon Watergate scandal. In 1977, he worked on a Tennessee parole board case that led to the forced resignation of Tennessee governor Ray Blanton due to allegations that Blanton had sold pardons.

The case would lead to the start of Thompson's acting career. Peter Maas' book Marie covered the parole board scandal. In 1985, Roger Donaldson was hired to direct the movie based on the book. He consulted with Thompson about how best to portray the events of the case. When Donaldson asked who should portray Thompson in the movie, Thompson suggested that he play himself. Donaldson agreed and Thompson received his first acting role.

Thompson went on to become a recognizable character actor, usually portraying authority figures with integrity and the desire to do the right thing. One of his most famous roles was Rear Admiral Joshua Painter in the 1990 movie The Hunt for Red October, based on the Tom Clancy Cold War novel.

He parlayed his Hollywood fame into a successful campaign for the U.S. Senate. He represented his home state of Tennessee between December 1994 and January 2003 as a member of the Republican party.

During his time in the Senate, he gained further notice as the chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs. In this role, he played an important part in the investigation of President Bill Clinton and the eventual impeachment proceedings. Despite political pressure to push hard for a conviction on the impeachment charges, Thompson was considered to have run the Senate investigation in a fair and even-handed manner.

National Republican Party leaders believed Senator Thompson had a realistic chance at winning the Presidency. However, he did not run in the 2000 election despite his widespread name recognition and extensive experience in law and government.

Instead, he returned to acting again, taking on the role of District Attorney Arthur Branch in the long-running NBC police and courtroom series Law & Order. He was a rare actor portraying a district attorney in that he had actually served as a (federal) prosecutor and he had been elected to a prominent political office in real life. Moreover, he was as widely known in real-life political circles as his character was on the show.

He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2004 although he did not reveal the disease until April 2007. His treatment was successful and the cancer went into remission.

On September 5, 2007, Senator Thompson announced on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno that he was officially a candidate for the Republican nomination for the office of President of the United States. He entered the race much later than his rivals did. He was never able to generate enough excitement and momentum. His campaign did not fare well in the early Republican primaries and he eventually ended his run for the Republican nomination, which Senator John McCain went onto win.

Thompson remained an influential political figure. He was a member of the prestigious Council on Foreign Relations. He has also served as a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the notable conservative think tank in Washington, D.C., where he researched national security and intelligence matters with a focus on North Korea, Russia and China.