Hunter S. Thompson, creator of `gonzo journalism,' dies

`Fear and Loathing' writer commits suicide in home in the Aspen, Colo., area

February 21, 2005|By THE DENVER POST

ASPEN, Colo. -- Hunter Stockton Thompson, who coined the term "gonzo journalism" to describe the unique and furiously personal approach to reportage exemplified in his 1972 book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, died last night of a self-inflicted gunshot wound at his Woody Creek home. He was 67, family members said.

Pitkin County Sheriff Bob Braudis, a friend of Thompson's, confirmed the death. Thompson's son, Juan, discovered his body yesterday evening. "Dr. Hunter S. Thompson took his life with a gunshot to the head. The family will provide more information about [a] memorial service shortly," Juan and Anita Thompson, Hunter Thompson's wife, said in a statement.

Countless fans strove to imitate Thompson's startlingly candid first-person accounts that described legally errant escapades fueled by drugs, alcohol and nicotine, yet he maintained a savagely private personal life.

He famously threatened to shoot trespassers, providing endless fodder for cartoonist Garry Trudeau's portrayal of Thompson as the hard-living Duke, named after Raoul Duke, a character in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. The book was made into a 1998 movie.

Thompson grew up in Louisville, Ky. He earned his high school diploma while in the Air Force. Thompson was still enlisted when he studied journalism at New York's Columbia University, and began his career at the Eglin Air Force Base newsletter while also working as a sportswriter for a local civilian paper. He later worked for Time magazine, the New York Herald Tribune, the National Observer and The Nation.

Thompson married twice, first to Sandra Dawn Thompson Tarlo, with whom he had one son, Juan F. Thompson. He later married his assistant, Anita Thompson, a native of Fort Collins. Besides his wife and son, survivors include a grandson, William Thompson.

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