A Senator from Tennessee; born in Sheffield, Ala., on August 19, 1942; attended the public schools in Lawrenceburg, Tenn.; graduated from Memphis State University 1964; received J.D. degree from Vanderbilt University 1967; admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1967 and commenced the practice of law; assistant U.S. attorney 1969-1972; minority counsel, Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities ("Watergate Committee") 1973-1974; special counsel to Tennessee Governor Lamar Alexander 1980; special counsel, Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 1980-1981; special counsel, Senate Intelligence Committee 1982; member, Tennessee Appellate Court Nominating Commission 1985-1987; actor; elected as a Republican to the United States Senate in the November 8, 1994, special election to fill the unexpired portion of the term ending January 3, 1997, left vacant by the resignation of Albert Gore, Jr.; took the oath of office on December 2, 1994; reelected in 1996 for the term ending January 3, 2003; not a candidate for reelection in 2002; chair, Committee on Governmental Affairs (One Hundred Fifth and One Hundred Sixth Congresses; One Hundred Seventh Congress [January 20, 2001-June 6, 2001]); resumed acting career.
He was 17 when he married Sarah Elizabeth Lindsey in September 1959. They each worked to pay for his education — Mr. Thompson graduated in 1964 from Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis) and received a law degree from Vanderbilt University in 1967 — and to raise three children. After finishing law school, he joined the law firm of his wife’s uncle and in 1969 was appointed an assistant United States attorney in Nashville.
The couple divorced in 1985. A daughter from that marriage, Elizabeth (Betsy) Thompson Panici, died from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs in 2002.
In 2002, Mr. Thompson married Jeri Kehn, a Republican consultant, and they had two children.