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.

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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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Comments (1)
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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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