Fred Thompson, Personification Of Governmental Power


You probably heard the news last night that actor and politician Fred Thompson has died. I went searching for photos, and while he wasn’t the tradliest of guys, I found this great one with buttondown and pipe.

While most men cut their teeth on acting before turning to the role of politican, Thompson did the reverse. I would have first seen him as a teenager in “No Way Out,” opposite a young Kevin Costner, which was probably my first spy thriller. He also had roles in “Die Hard 2” and “The Hunt For Red October,” and the New York Times said he was who Hollywood would turn to when it needed someone to personify governmental power.


Thompson served as a senator from Tennessee, but prior to that he had played a role in the Watergate hearings and helped bring down President Nixon. The priceless photo a shows Thompson and colleagues smoking their pipes through the hearings. — CC

22 Comments on "Fred Thompson, Personification Of Governmental Power"

  1. Vern Trotter | November 2, 2015 at 2:04 pm |

    I ran into Fred several years ago in Gramercy Park while they were filming an episode of Law and Order at the old Oleg Cassini residence. He was just as kind and gracious as he always appeared in film roles and as a Senator. He was at that time dressed in a three button suit and an OCBD so I am glad he is featured here. Died fairly young for these days.

    He started working in Washington, with a friend of mine from Memphis, on the staff of then Senator Howard Baker. He also worked on the Watergate committee as a young lawyer with Hillary.

  2. Bags' Groove | November 2, 2015 at 4:20 pm |

    Mark Steyn has written a nice piece on Fred, quote “…a car pulled up and Fred Thompson got out wearing the best cut suit I’ve ever seen on a political panelist – an immaculately tailored chalk-white pinstripe; he looked sharp, like he was about to whack Sean Connery in The Untouchables.”
    And Mark is no mean dresser himself. Always sports a puff-folded pocket handkerchief: the insignia of a jaunty gentleman.

  3. @Bags

    My father too brought my attention to the Steyn piece. And speaking of puff folds, did you see my tweet the other day?

  4. Sad to hear he died. On the same vein of government movers and shakers, I just finished the documentary “The Man Nobody Knew.” An unintentional trad porno filled with 90 minutes of collar rolls, welt seams and 3/2 rolls. It highlights the life and legacy of CIA Dir. Bill Colby. Amazing video footage of the fashions we all pine for.

  5. Roger C. Russell II | November 3, 2015 at 12:11 am |

    To me Senator Fred Thompson was very Trad. I think Thompson and a lot of guys were some what subject to the style of their era hence the sideburns. However, in the past 10-15 years I saw him fairly often on television in different commercials. He always wore a blue blazer, blue OCBD and a rep tie. Also, with a more conservative haircut.

  6. As someone who grew up watching him on Law and Order, I always thought, “that’s the kind of guy who wears Brooks Brothers.” That’s well before I know what ivy style was and an OCBD was just something I was forced to wear.

    Also, wfbjr – Loved “The Man Nobody Knew,” especially watching it here in D.C. I came for the CIA stories and stayed for the collar rolls.

  7. Bags' Groove | November 3, 2015 at 3:24 am |

    @ Christian
    I don’t twitter, but in my book a two or three second puff fold is what a top hanky (as we used to call them) is all about. And an element of that elusive sprezzatura…perhaps.

  8. Glad to hear all of the Willliam Colby talk. He was a trad, trad man. This post may be of interest to some:

  9. Link to the documentary mentioned by wfbjr, “The Man Nobody Knew”:

  10. @CC:

    Colored silk ones, yes. White linen gets the TV fold.

  11. originalhenry | November 4, 2015 at 11:50 am |

    I would consider a TV fold for a funeral. Otherwise, white linen or cotton hanks get stuffed, but with the points out. Silk gets stuffed with the points in. Will of A Suitable Wardrobe fame had a couple of videos on this some years back, but with the demise of his blog, those videos might be gone.

    Henry Contestwinner

  12. Fun clothing fact – one of the things that helped derail Fred Thompson’s run for President was the fact that he showed up to the Iowa State Fair (an obligatory stop for all candidates before the Iowa primary) in Gucci loafers. He later swore that he was not wearing Gucci loafers and that he had never owned a pair of Gucci loafers. Having seen the video of him (somewhere on youtube), they are definately horsebit Gucci style loafers.

  13. The populist hatred of elitist signals by men running for the world’s most elitist job is always mind-bogglingly hysterical.

  14. William Richardson | November 4, 2015 at 4:43 pm |


    I may be in the minority but I would consider the Gucci bit loafer about as Ivy/Trad as a French Shriner slip on.



  15. Pump the brakes, are we saying that there is a diversity of opinions on the tradliness of bit loafers? I had no idea…

  16. Check your personal subjective associations against the objective facts of who produces and sells them (Alden, J. Press) and wears them. Plenty of Ivy/preppy history regarding the shoes to be found on, for example.

    There are some people who see signet rings and think “mafia” and others who think “English gentleman.”

    Kind of a litmus test.

  17. I believe that the legitimacy of horsebits hang desperately upon the wearer and how they’re worn. Heavily nuanced.

  18. Ward Wickers | November 5, 2015 at 8:15 am |

    There’s nothing desperate about them. Hung over or otherwise, I wear them all the time, sans the socks (for a little French flare, Will).

    Sorry to see Fred Thompson leave this life. One thing I always found appealing about him was his accent — a sort of southern cadence without the lazy elongations. He had a commanding presence (with or without the Guccis), and his speech patterns seemed to reinforce that.

  19. Minimalist Trad | November 5, 2015 at 9:09 am |

    @ William Richardson
    I always wear my Gucci horsebit loafers when I’m engaged in such Trad/Ivy activities as listening to jazz and watching football games.

  20. To WFBJR: Re William Colby. You may wish to refer to the last two words in WFB’s Spytime where Angleton determines who the fifth man was.

  21. William Richardson | November 5, 2015 at 12:04 pm |

    @Minimalist Trad

    Are you a Kenny G listening Canadian football watching man? I kid. I joke with you.


  22. 100% nylon shirts were also once Ivy, but we’ve outgrown them. I wish we could do the same with bit loafers.

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