Cover Story

Blah & order

"Blah & order" Continued...

Issue: "He's in," Sept. 22, 2007

Thompson's career quickly soared, as he became a U.S. attorney in his late 20s and played an important role in exposing the Watergate scandal as minority counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee. That success sparked a book deal, speaking engagements, and more high-profile attorney work.

In one case, Thompson represented a fired Tennessee parole board member accusing Gov. Ray Blanton of taking bribes from prison felons. The favorable outcome of the case led to a book and subsequent film in which producers asked Thompson to portray himself. More acting jobs soon followed.

But no amount of professional success could keep Thompson's 25-year marriage from failing. The couple divorced in 1985, their three children fully grown. Thompson married in 2002 Jeri Kehn, with whom he has a 4-year-old daughter and a 10-month-old son.

The 65-year-old father speaks often of his late-life blessings and the country they'll grow up in as reasons for his entry into the presidential race. During the final campaign stop of his first New Hampshire trip, Thompson stood on the steps of Nashua City Hall and talked about the importance of defending the conservative principles of "the strongest, freest, most prosperous nation in the history of the world."

He spoke of national security, limited government, and lower taxes, ideas central to the conservative movement. But even this friendly audience rarely erupted in cheers, a recurring theme that pushed Thompson to explain himself: "I may not give you a lot of applause lines as we go along. I think this is a serious time."

Fred facts

BORN: Freddie Dalton Thompson, Aug. 19, 1942, in Sheffield, Ala.; raised in Lawrenceburg, Tenn.

EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree from Memphis State University (1964); law degree from Vanderbilt University (1967)


  • 1969-1972: Assistant U.S. attorney
  • 1973-1974: Minority counsel, Senate Watergate Committee
  • 1975-1993: Lobbyist, lawyer
  • 1977: Took on a Tennessee Parole Board case that exposed a cash-for-clemency scheme that toppled the governor and became the subject of a book and the film Marie: A True Story, in which Thompson played himself
  • 1987-present: Actor, appearing in 18 films, including No Way Out, The Hunt for Red October, Days of Thunder, Die Hard 2, Cape Fear, and In the Line of Fire; and since 2002 starring as New York District Attorney Arthur Branch on the TV series Law & Order
  • 1994-2002: U.S. senator from Tennessee; served as chairman of the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs



You must be a WORLD member to post comments.

    Keep Reading


    Job-seeker friendly

    Southern California churches reach the unemployed through job fairs