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Actor, attorney and politician Freddie Dalton Thompson was born on August 19, 1942, in Sheffield, Alabama, though he grew up in Tennessee. Thompson attended Memphis State University before earning his law degree from Vanderbilt. He began his career in law in 1967 and served as a U.S. Attorney from 1969-'72.
Thompson landed in the national spotlight when he was appointed as the Republican counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee investigating the Nixon White House. During a televised hearing, it was Thompson who asked White House aide Alexander Butterfield about the existence of tapes made of Oval Office conversations. Those tapes would eventually lead to Nixon's resignation. After Watergate, Thompson worked as a lawyer and lobbyist in Nashville and Washington D.C.
In 1985, Thompson was asked to play himself in the movie Marie, which was based on the life of whistleblower Marie Ragghianti whom Thompson had defended. His natural on-screen talent led to several other roles and a second career as an actor. Thompson's films include 1987's No Way Out starring Kevin Costner, the 1990 Tom Cruise vehicle Days of Thunder, 1990's The Hunt for Red October and 1993's In the Line of Fire starring Clint Eastwood.
In 1994, Thompson, a conservative Republican, sought political office for the first time. He ran to fill the remaining two years of Al Gore's U.S. Senate term from Tennessee (after Gore became vice president). After barnstorming the state in a red pickup truck while wearing cowboy boots, Thompson won a landslide. He was re-elected in 1996 to a full six-year term.
In 2002, Thompson chose not to run for re-election and took the role of New York District Attorney Arthur Branch on the television series Law & Order. He stayed with the show until 2007 when he announced his bid for the U.S. presidency. He officially announced he was withdrawing his candidacy for President of the United States on January 22, 2008.
In April 2007, Fred Thompson disclosed that in 2004, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system. He said the cancer was in remission and he was suffering no symptoms.
At the age of 17, Thompson married Sarah Elizabeth Lindsey in September 1959. Both he and his wife worked to pay for his education and support their three children. The couple divorced in 1985. Thompson's daughter, Elizabeth "Betsy" Thompson Panici, died from an accidental overdose of prescriptions drugs in 2002.
In 2002, Thompson married Republican consultant Jeri Kehn and they had two children.
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