Fred Thompson, actor and senator who ran for chairwoman, dies at 73

Family statement tells former Tennessee Republican senator died from lymphoma; Jeb Bush tells 2008 presidential competitor will be sorely missed

Fred Thompson, an actor who became a US senator for Tennessee and ran for the presidency in 2008, has died. He was 73.

A statement from the Thompson family told: It is with a heavy heart and a deep sense of heartbreak that we share the passing of our brother, husband, father, and grandfather who died peacefully in Nashville surrounded by his family.

The statement, which the Tennessean newspaper reported told Thompson died from a recurrence of lymphoma, added: Fred believed that the greatness of our nation was defined by the hard work, religion, and franknes of its people.

He had an suffering faith in the exceptionalism of our country, and that America could provide the opportunity for any son or girl, in any corner of our country, to succeed in life.

Tributes to Thompson were instant. Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor now operating for the Republican presidential nomination, used Twitter to say: Fred Thompson lived an amazing life, he will be sorely missed. Columba and my prayers are with Jeri and his kids& grandkids.

The Republican operative Stuart Stevens referring to Thompsons warm personality where reference is used Twitter to say: Simply before narrating Bush film at 04 convention, Fred Thompson was enjoying adult beverage. Saw my nervous appear. Laughed. Then nailed it.

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Fred Thompson questions former White House aide Alexander P Butterfield during the Watergate hearings.

An attorney who worked on the Watergate hearings, Thompson became a successful character actor after playing himself in the 1985 cinema Marie, based on a case in which he represented a whistleblower who uncovered corruption in the government of Tennessee. He went on to star in the TV series Law& Order.

Fred Thompson with his Law& Order co-stars Sam Waterston and Alana De La Garza. Photograph: Reuters

He played a fictional president in Last Best Chance( 2005) and real-life chairman Ulysses S Grant in a 2007 TV movie, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee. He the voice of another occupant of the White House, Andrew Jackson, in Rachel and Andrew Jackson: A Love Story( 2001 ). In the 1993 Clint Eastwood hit In the Line of Fire, he played a White House chief of staff.

Other film credits included The Hunt for Red October and Days of Thunder( both 1990 ), Cape Fear and Necessary Roughness( 1991 ), and Secretariat( 2010 ). On television he made appearances in Sex and the City, The Good Wife and many more series.

Thompson entered politics in 1994, when he was elected to fill the remainder of the Senate term vacated by the then vice-president, Al Gore. He won re-election and represented Tennessee as a Republican until the 2002 elections, in which he chose not to run.

In 2007, he took a breach from acting to run for the Republican nomination for chairman. Unable to gain purchase in the primary race, he dropped out in late January 2008.

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Thompson appeared in the 1991 cinema, Necessary Roughness.

One of the lines most famously attributed to Thompson compared his post-law career choices: After two years in Washington, I often long for the realism and sincerity of Hollywood.

The Tennessee senator Lamar Alexander, who took over Thompsons seat on Capitol Hill, on Sunday issued a statement which told: Very few people can light up the room the way Fred Thompson did. He used his magical as a lawyer, actor, Watergate counsel and United States senator to become one of our countrys most principled and effective public servant.

He was my friend for nearly 50 years. I will miss him greatly.

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