NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CBS/AP) — Fred Dalton Thompson, a Republican U.S. senator from Tennessee for eight years who also acted in feature films and on television, has died, his family says in a statement.

The statement says Thompson died Sunday in Nashville after a recurrence of lymphoma at 73.

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“It is with a heavy heart and a deep sense of grief that we share the passing of our brother, father and grandfather who died peacefully Nashville surrounded by his family,” said the statement. It added, “Fred was the same man on the floor of the Senate, the movie studio, or the town square of … his home.”

Thompson, a lawyer, alternated between politics and acting much of his adult life. Once regarded as a rising star in the Senate, he retired from that seat when his term expired in January 2003, saying he didn’t “have the heart” for another term. He was first elected to the senate in 1994.

Thompson was perhaps best known for playing D.A. Arthur Branch in the long-running “Law & Order” franchise. He joined the show in 2002 and stayed until 2007. He also appeared as Branch on “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” “Law & Order: Trial By Jury,” “Law & Order: SVU” and “Conviction.”

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He announced a bid for president in 2007 but dropped out in January 2008 after faring poorly in the early going.

The Alabama-born Thompson, 6-foot-6 with a booming voice and folksy demeanor, appeared in at least 20 motion pictures. His film credits include “In the Line of Fire,” ”The Hunt for Red October,” ”Die Hard II” and “Cape Fear.”

His other TV credits include “Wiseguy,” “Roseanne,” “Matlock” and “The Good Wife.”

Thompson had  five children. Two with his current wife (they married in 2002) and three with his first wife (they were divorced in 1985 after 26 years of marriage.)

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