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Fred Thompson-The Early Years

Fred Thompson is usually thought of as an actor who parlayed his fame from acting into a political career, ala Schwarzenegger, Reagan, or Ben Jones (aka Cooter). This is certainly true as far as it goes, but there is an interesting difference between him and the previously mentioned erstwhile thespians.

Thompson's career started in public service. He was the Republican counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee. He went on to private practice, and one of his clients was Marie Ragghianti. Ragghianti  was a an employee of the Tennessee Parole And Pardons board had gotten harassed and ultimately gotten fired from her state job for blowing the whistle on the sale of paroles and clemency.

When Marie, the film version of Ragghianti's story was made, Thompson was asked to play himself. That's how his film career got started.

Here's a clip of Siskel and Ebert's review of Marie, containing some footage with Fred Thompson. Note  Ebert describing Thompson as "famous from the Watergate case".