Fred Dalton Thompson

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Fred Thompson
Birth name Freddie Dalton Thompson
Born August 19, 1942 in Sheffield, Alabama, USA
Died November 1, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee, USA from non-Hodgkin's lymphoma
Sometimes credited as Fred Dalton Thompson
Notable Roles Arthur Branch in Law & Order
Notable Episodes
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Fred Dalton Thompson was an American actor and former United States senator for the state of Tennessee. He is most well known for playing Arthur Branch in the Law & Order franchise.



Fred Thompson, was born on August 19, 1942 in Sheffield, Alabama to a fairly affluent family. However, he grew up in Tennessee, attending such universities as Memphis State (where he earned an undergraduate degree in philosophy and political science) and Vanderbilt (where he earned his Juris Doctor degree). Thompson began to practice law in 1967, moved up to serve as an assistant U.S. attorney between 1969 and 1972, and eventually led to 1973 when he served as co-chief counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee. Thompson was elected to the U.S. Senate on November 8, 1994 in order to fill the seat of Al Gore, who resigned from the office. His term in the senate ended on January 3, 2003. He was most recently asked by President George W. Bush to assist Supreme Court nominee John Roberts through the confirmation hearings.

Thompson's acting career began in 1985 when he was cast as playing himself in Marie, a film about how he helped topple the corrupt Tennessee Democrat governor Ray Blanton. Producers supposedly couldn't find anyone to play him as well as he could play himself. Thompson went on to appear in several films over the years, including Hunt for the Red October, Cape Fear and Die Hard 2. In 2002, he took on the role of District Attorney Arthur Branch for the Law & Order series, a move which added him to the core cast of the "Order" side of the series. Branch continues to appear on the series, as well as in various episodes of its spinoffs.

In 2007, Thompson asked Law & Order executive producer Dick Wolf to release him from his contract, effectively ending his television career in order to pursue the possibility of becoming a Republican presidential candidate for the election in 2008. Thompson ran briefly and was a popular candidate in southern states like Tennessee, but was ultimately defeated by John McCain, Mike Huckabee and Mitt Romney.

Thompson was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer affecting white blood cells, in 2004 but went into remission in 2007 following treatment. Following a recurrence of the disease, Thompson died on November 1, 2015 in Nashville, Tennessee at age 73.


Starring Roles

Series Role Year(s) Season(s)
Law & Order
(credited as Fred Dalton Thompson)
Arthur Branch 2002–2007 13 14 15 16 17
Law & Order: Trial by Jury Arthur Branch 2005 1

Guest Starring Roles

Series Role Episode Airdate
Wiseguy Knox Pooley 2x02 - School of Hard Knox November 2, 1988
Wiseguy Knox Pooley 2x03 - Revenge of the Mud People November 9, 1988
Wiseguy Knox Pooley 2x04 - Last of the True Believers November 16, 1988
China Beach Lt. Col. Reinhardt 2x13 - Twilight March 22, 1989
Roseanne Keith Faber 1x23 - Let's Call It Quits May 2, 1989
Matlock Gordon Lewis 4x01 - The Hunting Party (1) September 19, 1989
Matlock Prosecutor Mr. McGonigal 7x07 - The Juror February 11, 1993
Sex and the City Politician on TV 3x02 - Politically Erect June 11, 2000
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Arthur Branch 4x21 - Fallacy April 18, 2003
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Arthur Branch 5x02 - Manic September 30, 2003
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Arthur Branch 5x04 - Loss October 14, 2003
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Arthur Branch 5x05 - Serendipity October 21, 2003
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Arthur Branch 5x08 - Abomination November 11, 2003
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Arthur Branch 5x10 - Shaken November 25, 2003
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Arthur Branch 6x20 - Night (1) May 3, 2005
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Arthur Branch 6x23 - Goliath May 24, 2005
Law & Order: Criminal Intent Arthur Branch 5x06/07 - In the Wee Small Hours November 6, 2005
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Arthur Branch 7x08 - Starved November 15, 2005
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Arthur Branch 7x09 - Rockabye November 22, 2005
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Arthur Branch 7x16 - Gone February 28, 2006
Conviction Arthur Branch 1x01 - Pilot March 3, 2006

Specials and Made-for-TV Movies

Title Role Airdate Series/Banner
Unholy Matrimony Frank Sweeny October 3, 1988
Bed of Lies Richard "Racehorse" Haynes January 20, 1992
Stay the Night Det. Malone April 26, 1992
Day-O Frank DeGeorgio May 3, 1992
Keep the Change Otis June 9, 1992
Barbarians at the Gate Jim Robinson March 20, 1993
Watergate Plus 30: Shadow of History Himself 2003
Evel Knievel Jay Sarno July 30, 2004

Talk Show Appearances

Series Episode Airdate
Dennis Miller Live Reducing Government July 7, 2000
Hannity & Colmes 3/25/2004 March 25, 2004
Meet the Press 5/29/2005 May 29, 2005
Hannity & Colmes 7/6/2005 July 6, 2005
Meet the Press 7/24/2005 July 24, 2005
This Week 7/2/2006 July 2, 2006

Memorable Moments

Awards and Accolades

Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • Nominated: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2004)
Law & Order


  • Thompson was the first standing senator to take on a full time acting job in addition to his duties on the senate.