Fred Thompson, a folksy former Republican US senator from Tennessee who appeared in feature films and television including a role on "Law & Order," died Sunday, his family says. He was 73. Thompson, at 6-foot-6 with a booming voice, appeared in at least 20 motion pictures. His credits include "In the Line of Fire," ''The Hunt for Red October," ''Die Hard II" and "Cape Fear." By the early 1990s, Thompson said he had become bored with his 10-year stint in Hollywood and wanted to go into public service. That's when he headed back to Nashville and launched his Senate campaign. The family statement said Thompson died Sunday in Nashville following a recurrence of lymphoma. It added he was surrounded by his family.
"It is with a heavy heart and a deep sense of grief that we share the passing of our brother, father and grandfather who died peacefully in Nashville," the statement added. "Fred was the same man on the floor of the Senate, the movie studio, or the town square of ... his home." Thompson, a lawyer, alternated between politics and acting much of his adult life. Once regarded as a rising star in the Senate, he retired from that seat when his term expired in January 2003, saying he didn't have the drive for another term. However, he returned to politics in 2007 by announcing that he would seek the Republican presidential nomination. Dogged by accusations he was not a hard worker, he dropped out in January 2008 after faring poorly in the early caucuses and primaries. "I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort," Thompson said. Click for more on Fred Thompson's life. (Read more senator stories.)