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Fred Thompson, former U.S. Senator and actor, dead at 73

Former U.S. Senator Fred Thompson, whose acting roles included his portrayal of Manhattan District Attorney Arthur Branch on the TV crime drama "Law & Order," has died, his family says. He was 73.

Thompson, who had been battling a recurrence of lymphoma, died in Nashville on Sunday while surrounded by his family.

"It is with a heavy heart and a deep sense of grief that we share the passing of our brother, husband, father, and grandfather who died peacefully in Nashville surrounded by his family," the Thompson family said in a statement. "Fred stood on principle and common sense, and had a deep love for and connection with the people across Tennessee whom he had the privilege to serve in the United States Senate. He enjoyed a hearty laugh, a strong handshake, a good cigar, and a healthy dose of humility."

Thompson was elected to the U.S. Senate in 1994 and was regarded as a rising star in Washington, D.C., but he decided in 2001 not to run for re-election, though he briefly changed his mind in the wake of the September 11 attacks. He joined the primary race for the Republican Party's presidential nomination in September 2007, but he withdrew just four months later after attracting little support.

"Our nation has lost a servant, Tennessee has lost a son, and our family has lost its rock. In the days ahead, we ask for prayers of comfort, assurance and peace," the family statement added.

In addition to numerous appearances on "Law & Order," as well as its spinoffs, Thompson also appeared in the 1990 movies "The Hunt for Red October" and "Die Hard 2," among others.

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