A Young Hunter S. Thompson Appears on the Classic TV Game Show, To Tell the Truth (1967)

Once upon a time, avant-garde composers, surrealist painters, and Gonzo journalists made guest appearances on the most mainstream American game shows. It doesn’t happen much anymore.

We’ve shown you John Cage perform on I’ve Got a Secret in 1960; Salvador Dalí do his Dalí schtick on What’s My Line in 1952; and a young Frank Zappa turn a bicycle into a musical instrument on The Steve Allen Show in ’63. Now we can add to the list a young Hunter S. Thompson making an appearance on To Tell the Truth, one of the longest-running TV game shows in American history. The episode (above) aired on February 20, 1967, the year after Thompson published his first major book of journalism, Hell’s Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. (See him get confronted by the Angels here.)

If you’re not familiar with the show, To Tell the Truth works like this:

The show features a panel of four celebrities whose object is the correct identification of a described contestant who has an unusual occupation or experience. This central character is accompanied by two impostors who pretend to be the central character; together, the three persons are said to belong to a “team of challengers.” The celebrity panelists question the three contestants; the impostors are allowed to lie but the central character is sworn “to tell the truth”. After questioning, the panel attempts to identify which of the three challengers is telling the truth and is thus the central character.

Given the whole premise of the show, Thompson, only 30 years old, was still an unrecognizable face on America’s cultural scene. But, with the publication of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas just around the corner, all of that was about to change.

via @WFMU

Related Content:

Hunter S. Thompson Gets Confronted by The Hell’s Angels

Read 18 Lost Stories From Hunter S. Thompson’s Forgotten Stint As a Foreign Correspondent

Hunter S. Thompson, Existentialist Life Coach, Gives Tips for Finding Meaning in Life

Read 10 Free Articles by Hunter S. Thompson That Span His Gonzo Journalist Career (1965-2005)

Hunter S. Thompson Interviews Keith Richards

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  • Kane says:

    This is fantastic, Hunter seems so quiet compared to later videos. It reminds me of something he said in a 1978 interview:

    “I’m really in the way as a person and the myth has taken over. I find myself an appendage… I’m not only no longer necessary, I’m in the way. It’d be much better if I died. Then people could take the myth and make films.”

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