Hunter S. Thompson’s Widow, Anita, Talks About A ‘Gonzo’ Legacy And Museum

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Photo: Hunter and Anita Thompson 1
Hunter S. Thompson and Anita Thompson in 2003.

This story first aired on June 17, 2015.

It's been a decade since the ashes of Hunter S. Thompson were shot out of a cannon at his home in Woody Creek near Aspen. The place is called Owl Farm -- an old, wooden house with Thompson's messy office and a shooting range out back. It's where the self-proclaimed "gonzo" journalist hammered on his typewriter, and got hammered himself. It's also where, in February of 2005, he took his own life with a pistol.

Owl Farm has largely been frozen in time since then -- and his widow, Anita Thompson, who lives there, wants to open it to visitors as a private museum and share the legacy of the man behind "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and many books and articles in which he reshaped journalism by making himself a main character.

Anita Thompson spoke with Colorado Matters host Ryan Warner about all that. Click on the audio link above to hear the conversation. Edited highlights are posted below.


Anita Thompson the future of Owl Farm:

"I don't ever intend to leave Owl Farm. It's one of those places on earth that over time... it's not that it belongs to me, it's that I belong to the land. There are magnificent red cliffs on the property and there are 40 acres of untouched, beautiful wild that my goal is to protect and preserve from development and to make the home a private museum by the end of the year. So I will not be moving, but I will be making room for guests to come on an appointment basis only so they can enjoy and experience the way Hunter lived."

Photo: Hunter and Anita Thompson 2
Anita Thompson says: "Hunter and me on his birthday. I woke him up early for birthday cake."

"The conversation is drifting, thank goodness. We're guiding it, all of us, away from his lifestyle, so it's focused on his work and what he contributed as a journalist and as an artist. So now that I feel comfortable with that, I feel like I can open his home now for people to see his lifestyle and that, yes, he did live with taking so many substances and having the time of his life every single day. Every day was a new day. He lived like he was a teenage girl trapped in the body of an elderly dope fiend. And when you see his home, you get a sense of that."

On Hunter S. Thompson's work schedule:

"It was his circadian rhythm to be like an owl: he worked and lived and was happiest at night. And the sun would come up, you know, at 6 or 7 a.m., depending on the time of year, and that was his cue to go to bed."

On being his assistant, then wife:

"He was a Southern gentleman and certainly an alpha male, so he was the one to initiate a relationship. When I first met him, I was a little hesitant because of our age difference. He was older than my father, but I just couldn't get him out of my mind and when I started working for him and really getting to know him, there was nothing that would keep me away from him and he felt the same about me, he said, and he just wanted me to be with him all the time. And we were also working together, so it was working."

On his 2003 marriage proposal letter:

"Getting married was not something I wanted to do just because I didn't want the courting to end and there were some technical issues and it was just working the way were doing it. We were trying to have children, living together. That wasn't the issue, but having that paperwork done worried me a little. But then he wrote a letter one day after a few various attempts and it was so beautiful it brought me to my knees and of course I said, 'Yes.' He loved this letter."

Click here to read the full marriage proposal. The reference to "The Lion and the Cadillac" collaboration is a section from Hunter S. Thompson's memoir, "Kingdom of Fear."