Monday, November 2, 2015

Fred Thompson 1942 - 2015

Fred Thompson; actor, politician, attorney, columnist, and radio host…has passed away at 73.

Born Freddie Dalton Thompson in Sheffield, Alabama, Thompson was the first member of his family to attend university when he entered Florence State College (now the University of North Alabama). He earned double degrees in philosophy and political science in 1964, and earned his Juris Doctor degree from Vanderbilt Law School in 1967. After working as an assistant U.S. attorney, he would be named minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee in the investigation of the Watergate Scandal.

His acting career began before he even knew it. In 1977, Thompson won a wrongful termination suit, and in 1985 was asked to play himself in a film adaptation of the case. His towering and husky frame, matched with his booming voice and southern-gentleman demeanor, made him perfect for authority-figure roles with a touch of paternal love. In 1990, he was cast as the head of Dulles Airport in DIE HARD 2, an Admiral THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, and the president of NASCAR in DAYS OF THUNDER; all in the same year. Moving over to TV-land, he portrayed a fictional President of the United States in LAST BEST CHANCE (and educational DVD), and two historical Presidents; Ulysses S. Grant in BURY MY HEART AT WOUNDED KNEE (2007), and the voice of Andrew Jackson in RACHEL AND ANDREW JACKSON.

He was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994 representing Tennessee; winning the race by campaigning in a red pickup truck. His busy schedule in the Senate, which included the Council on Foreign Relations and the Department of State, did not keep him from acting. In the final months of his term in 2002, Thompson joined the cast of the long-running TV drama LAW AND ORDER, playing Manhattan District Attorney Arthur Branch until 2007, and would reprise the character in several LAW AND ORDER spinoffs. Off the screen, he had a short run for the U.S. Presidency in 2008.

Back on the big screen, his list of credits included NECESSARY ROUGHNESS (1991), CURLY SUE (1991), CAPE FEAR (1991), ACES: IRON EAGLE III (1992), THUNDERHEART (1992), WHITE SANDS (1992), IN THE LINE OF FIRE (1993), SECRETARIAT (2010), and SINISTER (2012).

He was an accomplished columnist for the magazine Townhall, and served as an ABC News Radio analyst.


Everybody liked Fred Thompson on the big screen. His gentle southern mannerisms made him the type of character similar to everyone’s grandfather or uncle; the type of guy with a huge lap and a bigger heart who tells stories and spins yarns until the cows came home. And going along with that gentleness was a strong sense of authority; you don’t dare cross him or else his voice would boom like a rolling thunder across the wide open plains. It was that type of persona which made Fred Thompson so likeable on the screen. It didn’t matter if he was a NASCAR chief, attorney, or Admiral at sea, he was the guy you went to for the final word. In March of this year, Reel Speak celebrated the 25th anniversary of THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER, (here) one of this Blogger's favorite films. Thompson's presence in that movie, and all of his films, was always a comfort, and not many actors and actresses can pull that off. Everybody liked Fred Thompson.

No comments:

Post a Comment

A few rules:
1. Personal attacks not tolerated.
2. Haters welcome, if you can justify it.
3. Swearing is goddamn OK.