Hunter S. Thompson Unleashed

By James H. Ewert Jr.

Memorable and insane videos of the good doctor himself, Hunter S. Thompson

You can read all you want about Hunter S. Thompson’s distinctive mumbled cadence, penchant for screaming fits of rage, drug-addled lunacy and trademark strut, but the Good Doctor’s essence needs to be seen in order to fully appreciate. To celebrate the October 28 release of The Rum Diary, based on Thompson’s novel, we’ve gathered up some of Thompson’s most memorable and out-of-control videos.

1 Hunter S. Thompson for Sheriff

In 1970 Thompson ran for Sheriff of Pitkin County Colorado on a platform that included legalizing all drugs and punishing dishonest dealers, ripping up all city streets and sodding them immediately after assuming office, and changing the name of Aspen to Fat City. If elected, Thompson conceded not to eat mescaline while on duty. He also shaved his head for the election so that he could call the other candidate “my long-haired opponent.” Ultimately, however, Thompson narrowly lost and the streets of Aspen remain paved.

2 Thompson at Home

This local news segment from 1991 seemingly introduces Hunter S. Thompson to the world as if no one had ever heard of him. The station was reporting on Thompson being acquitted of sexual assault and possession of acid, cocaine and a machine gun.

3 Thompson’s Voicemail Complaint

A fine example of Hunter’s notorious knack for criticism. Thompson is none too pleased with a local electronics store and threatens to inform the world in true Gonzo fashion.

4 Confronting the Hell’s Angels

Thompson famously had the shit kicked out of him by the Hell’s Angels after writing a book on the motorcycle gang. In this 1967 clip of an old Canadian television show a member of the Hell’s Angels confronts Thompson about the book and two cases of beer Thompson never gave to the gang. The fight with the Angels started after Thompson intervened when he saw one of the bikers hitting his wife and said “only a punk beats his wife and dog.”

5 Thompson on Meet the Press

In 2003 Thompson appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press, the longest-running American television program. Speaking with host Tim Russert, Thompson discussed George Bush and the lead-up to the Iraq War.

6 Thompson on Conan

After refusing to appear in studio on Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Thompson invited O'Brien to shoot guns and drink hard liquor in upstate New York.

7 Fear and Loathing on the Road to Hollywood

In 1978 the BBC sent a film crew to follow Thompson back to Las Vegas, the scene of his book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

8 The Crazy Never Die

The Mitchell brother’s 1988 documentary on Hunter S. Thompson documents Hunter on a college campus speaking tour.

9 On Letterman

In 1988 Thompson appeared for the first time on the Late Show with David Letterman. Though Letterman tried his best to discuss the 1988 election, the two ended up talking mostly about guns and killing.

10 Discussing The Rum Diary on Charlie Rose

Thompson discusses his novel The Rum Diary on the Charlie Rose show. Thompson explains that he intended his novel to be his incarnation of The Great Gatsby, one of Thompson’s favorite books.


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