The NY Times has more on the upcoming Hunter S. documentary, Gonzo:
As the documentary demonstrates, the bottom for the pair came when Mr. Thompson was assigned to cover the Rumble in the Jungle, the fight between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman in Zaire in 1974. Mr. Steadman explains in the film that in an act of enormous cocaine-assisted hubris (or perhaps fear that Mr. Ali, one of his heroes, was about to take a huge beating), Thompson gave away his tickets to the fight and went for a swim in the hotel pool. In doing so, he missed one of the greatest upsets in boxing history and, more important for a journalist, did not get the story.
By the accounts of many Thompson never recovered from that episode, gradually morphing into the character of Uncle Duke that Garry Trudeau introduced in “Doonesbury,” a cartoon figure who fired automatic weapons from his sun deck at apparitions and enemies that only he could see. He became the sum of his trademarks — the sunglasses, cigarette holder and inchoate rage — and ended up imprisoned by them.
“He was the master persona maker,” said Douglas Brinkley, the historian and friend of Thompson’s who serves as executor of the estate. “If Ernest Hemingway was going to go big-game hunting in Africa, Hunter wanted to use a submachine gun to hunt wild boar in Big Sur, Calif. He was dangerous, like handling nitroglycerin, and he liked to keep it that way.”
In the end everyone wanted to be around Thompson except Thompson. And on a bright winter day in Woody Creek, with his son in the house — Juan Thompson sardonically terms it a “warm family moment” in the film — he called his own bluff and blew his brains out.
He was infirm at the time, spending time in a wheelchair. Given his fundamental allergy to institutions like hospitals, his decision to set the terms of his exit is unsurprising.
“Hunter was very much one to share the pain when things went wrong, but he would share the glory as well,” said Anita Thompson, who married him in 2003. “He was a generous person, but he ended up surrounded by leeches and hanger-on-ers. It is the curse of fame.”