Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Teaching the Pig to Dance by Fred Thompson

Fred Thompson. Teaching the Pig to Dance: A Memoir of Growing Up and Second Chances. New York: Crown Forum, Random House, Inc., 2010,

The author was a Counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee, an actor on the TV show “Law & Order”, a U.S. Senator, and a Presidential candidate. Thompson writes he wanted to title this book “Why I’ve Had Such a Hard Time Keeping a Job”.

His failed Presidential run was the first time had had set out to do something and didn’t achieve it. He describes the result as “humbling”.

Thompson’s father advised him to never become an attorney or a politician. He did both. He did tell his mother “if it’s any consolation, I didn’t turn out to be much of a politician after all.”

The author was born in Helen Keller Hospital in Alabama, which was also the birthplace of Sen. Mitch McConnell. Thompson grew up in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. It was a two restaurant town where “whichever one you go to, you’ll wish you’d gone to the other.”

Thompson’s father was a Roosevelt Democrat truck driver. His father ran for Sheriff as a Republican. He lost.

Thomson was inspired in college by the writings of Barry Goldwater.

Thompson was an Assistant U. S. Attorney. Sen. Howard Baker met and was impressed with Thompson. In 1973, he hired Thompson to be Republican Counsel to the Watergate Committee.

Thompson was an attorney representing a woman in the Tennessee Pardons and Parole Board who had fought the Governor over pardons, was filed, sued, and won. Her story was made into a movie. Frank Capra asked Thompson to play himself in the movie. This led to roles in 20 other movies.

As an attorney, Thompson represented a company that fought a strike. He won the case because the workers had not unionized.

Thompson got a role in the movie “Fat Man and Little Boy” because the casting people thought he resembled the real life character Leslie Groves. Yet the part was later given to Paul Newman. Newman trumps looking realistic. Thompson did get another part in the movie.

Dick Wolf, the producer of the TV show “Law & Order” unexpectedly asked Thompson to portray a District Attorney. He accepted. During a routine medical check for the show, it was discovered he had cancer. Fortunately, it was a condition resolved with medicine.

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