Senator Fred Thompson, Dead At 73

Senator Fred Thompson, star of such films as Die Hard 2: Die Harder, The Hunt For Red October, and Days Of Thunder, has passed away at the age of 73. Known as both an iconic Republican senator, as well as a hard nosed authority figure in most of the roles he's played, Senator Thompson passed away due to a recurrence of Lymphoma. He was surrounded by his family at his home in Nashville, and is survived by his children and his wife, Jeri.

Interestingly enough, Senator Thompson's career as an actor started because of his real life work on the case of Marie Ragghianti - a former head of the Tennessee Board of Pardons and Paroles. When Ragghianti was wrongfully removed from her appointment after refusing to release prisoners that had bribed Tennessee's governor for their freedom, Thompson helped fight and win her case as her attorney. With that victory, Thompson also drew the attention of Hollywood in the process. Director Roger Donaldson cast Thompson as himself in the film version of those proceedings, Marie; as well as the role of the CIA director in his Kevin Costner spy thriller, No Way Out.

With those two roles, Thompson's acting career was off to a great start, as he went on to land such film roles as Trudeau – the lead air traffic controller from Die Hard 2: Die Harder, Rear Admiral Joshua Painter in The Hunt For Red October, and "Big John" in Days Of Thunder - all in 1990. Though both his acting and political career would take off in a big way later in the decade, as Senator Thompson would act steadily in films until 1994, the year he was elected to his post as senator of Tennessee.

Senator Fred Thompson's senatorial career was a call-back to his previous profession, as he was appointed minority counsel during the infamous Watergate hearings, helping defend Republican senators during that national time of crisis. But eventually, Thompson caught the acting bug again – taking a role as Assistant District Attorney Arthur Branch on Law And Order in 2002, and eventually stepping down 2003 to focus more on his acting career.

Senator Thompson's last two roles of major viability were 2012's Sinister, in which he played the concerned Sheriff that ran into Ethan Hawke numerous times throughout the film, and in this year's faith-based blockbuster, 90 Minutes In Heaven. Thompson was always known for his tough talking, no-nonsense characters; as you'll see in this clip reel of some of the Senator's best work over his acting career.

While Senator Fred Thompson was known primarily as a character actor, his character was usually defined as hard nosed, with full command of the southern drawl he became famous for. For a generation of movie-goers, he was seen as an authority figure, both in Hollywood as well as Washington D.C., and no matter what your opinion on the man's politics – it can be agreed upon that his legacy as an actor is as indelible as it is vast. Our best wishes go out to Senator Thompson's family and friends in this time of mourning.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.