SAN FRANCISCO—San Francisco journalist Warren Hinckle III, who was a prominent writer in the 1960s and ended up becoming an iconic well-known newsman died on Thursday, August 25. He was 77. His daughter Pia Hinckle said that her father had been in declining health and died of complications from pneumonia at a hospital. His family surrounded him at that time.
Hinckle was recognized for the eye patch he wore following a childhood accident and his basset hound Bentley that accompanied him everywhere. He spent decades writing on San Francisco politics. He wrote for many publications.
He was born in San Francisco to parents Angela Hinckle and Warren J. Hinckle Jr. who died in 1972. He went to college at University of San Francisco. He edited and wrote liberal magazines such as Ramparts and Scanlan’s Monthly during the 1960s and 1970s. He had columns in The San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner.
According to the San Francisco Gate he was known as a muckraker. He is survived by his longtime companion Linda Corso; his three children Pia Hinckle of San Francisco, Hilary Hinckle of New York City, and Warren Hinckle IV of Boston and five grandchildren.
“He had a great, great time, and no regrets,” said Pia Hinckle, who followed her father into a writing career. “He never looked back, and he was always looking for the next thing to do.” Moments after his death just before 5 a.m., she said, “we had a drink for him around the bed. Jameson’s and Guinness. Last call.”
The SF Examiner spoke to Hinckle’s friend, publisher Ron Turner who indicated that his friends described him as a dandy, partial to dressing stylishly with wild green socks and shoes shined to a polish. He helped birth “gonzo” style journalism with colleague and fellow-adventurer Hunter S. Thompson.
Hinckle’s writing which was described as imperious, swaggering and boisterous which engaged and grabbed readers by the collar, and “got three mayors elected in San Francisco,” including former Mayor Willie Brown, Turner said.
Before Mr. Hinckle was 35, he helped young journalists change the way they viewed their jobs. According to SF Gate, Hinckle had many milestone moments throughout his career. One was when he assigned Hunter S. Thompson to cover the Kentucky Derby in 1970 for Scanlan’s Monthly. The article “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved,” helped launched the over-the-top personal of journalism known as gonzo. Both Hinckle and Hunter developed a friendship. Hinckle also published his autobiographical book “If You Have a Lemon, Make Lemonade.”
“Even the people who hated him, still loved him,” Pia Hinckle said. “He kind of thrived on that sort of tension.”
Pia and her “very eccentric but super fun” father were extremely close, but butted heads as much as he did with friends and politicians. She even recalled a time when she worked with him at The Argonaut and that he fired her because she tried to make him stick to his deadline.
Mr. Hinckle’s final book “Who Killed Hunter S. Thompson?” is anticipated to be published this year. The journalist began the book in 2005 and was making changes to the manuscript until his death.
“It was kind of like the portrait of Dorian Gray,” said longtime friend Ron Turner, founder of the book’s publisher, Last Gasp Books. “If Warren stopped working on it, he’d die. He kept moving paragraphs around and changing captions, but now it’s finally ready to go.”
The funeral will be held at 10:30 a.m on Tuesday, August 30 at SS Peter and Paul’s Church, 666 Filbert St., San Francisco. The public is invited. Donations in honor of Mr. Hinckle’s and go to St. Mary’s Medical Center Foundation.