Warren Hinckle, October 12, 1938 – August 25, 2016
by AVA News Service, August 5, 2016
Last call came for Warren Hinckle on August 25, 2016. He died from complications of pneumonia and was surrounded by his family. A renowned editor, writer, publisher and iconoclast, Hinckle first made his mark as the revolutionary editor of Ramparts magazine in the 1960s. He transformed it from a sleepy Roman Catholic lay magazine into a pioneering art-filled New Left political magazine that launched "radical chic" and influenced magazine design for decades.
He always believed there was a right and wrong side to a story and once you figured out the right side you never gave up. He burned his draft card for an iconic cover of Ramparts, which he used to tirelessly oppose the Vietnam War. He published Che Guevara's secret diaries and exposed the CIA's secret infiltration of student groups on university campuses, for which he received the George Polk Memorial Award for Excellence in Journalism. He was also awarded the H.L. Mencken Award and the Thomas Paine Award for his later journalism work.
After Ramparts folded, partly due to government confiscation of the "Guerilla Warfare in the USA" issue, he founded Scanlan's Monthly with his friend and New York journalist Sydney Zion. At Scanlan's he famously united Hunter S. Thompson and British artist Ralph Steadman for the first Gonzo journalism piece ever published "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved."
Having started his career in public relations under the tutelage of the famous ad man Howard Gossage, he pioneered publicity techniques such as placing full page ads in national daily newspapers announcing important stories to increase magazine sales and protect from government backlash.
He was also the editor of City of San Francisco magazine, Frisco, War News (published during the Gulf War); and The Argonaut, which he began publishing as a quarterly book of politics, art, and writing in 1992 and then as a San Francisco political newspaper and website.
He worked for many years as a reporter and columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Francisco Examiner, and the San Francisco Independent. He ran for mayor of San Francisco in 1992.
Known for his trademark black eye patch (he lost his eye in a childhood car accident on Christmas Eve) and black patent leather dancing shoes with bows, he was an old-fashioned reporter who worked mostly in bars. He believed there was nothing related to writing or publishing or life that you couldn't accomplish in a good saloon. He owned a series of basset hounds, which he said he preferred for their curious design, even temperment, and excellent expressions. Bentley and Melman were as well known by the dispatchers of City Cab, bar owners, and readers of his columns as he was. He tried the patience of every deadline he ever met but was a creative force that could find just the right typeface, headline, artwork and layout to make a "nothing" story into meaningful news.
Hinckle is the author of the following books: his autobiography, If You Have a Lemon, Make Lemonade (1974); Guerilla War in the USA (1971); The Richest Place on Earth (1978); The Fish is Red: The Story of the Secret War Against Castro (1981) and Deadly Secrets: The CIA-Mafia War Against Castro and the Assassination of JFK (1992) both with ex-CIA agent William Turner; The Big Strike: a Pictorial History of the 1934 San Francisco General Strike, and Gayslayer! The Story of How Dan White Killed Harvey Milk and George Moscone & Got Away With Murder (1985); and the forthcoming Who Killed Hunter S. Thompson?
In 2013, UC Berkeley's Bancroft Library published his oral history, "Warren Hinckle: Journalist, Editor, Publisher, Iconoclast," based on 43 hours of interviews between 2009 and 2012.
The Great One was born and raised in San Francisco, he attended St. Cecilia's, Archbishop Riordan High School, and the University of San Francisco. He also attended Hastings Law School but never completed his degree. His mother Angela Catherine DeVere was a survivor of the 1906 earthquake. His father, Warren James Hinckle, was a shipyard worker and died on a barstool at the Philosopher's Club in West Portal.
In addition to many friends and colleagues, admirers and detractors, he is survived by his longtime partner and loving advocate Linda Corso; his children Pia Hinckle (Chris Mittelstaedt) of San Francisco, Hilary Hinckle of New York City, and Warren Hinckle IV of Boston, stepdaughter Sarah Flohre of Virginia; and grandchildren Lucien, Fiona and Simone Mittelstaedt of San Francisco and Maxwell and Ava Cane of New York City; a brother, Robert Hinckle of Reno, NV and sister Marianne Hinckle of San Francisco; as well as his former wife and friend Denise McCarthy. He was a loving and eccentric father and grandfather who was famous for his beer pancakes and teaching everyone how to play liar's dice.
His family expresses their deep gratitude to Dr. Aissa Haman, his physician, whose kindness, skill, humor, and tenacity kept him going so long; to Dr. Remo Morelli, Dr. Jose Eguia, Dr. Robert Murray, Dr. Daniel Raybin, Dr. Robert Weber, all the loving and amazing nurses, therapists and staff of Team Hinckle at St. Mary's Medical Center. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Saint Mary's Medical Center Foundation, 450 Stanyan Street, San Francisco, CA 94117 or Golden Gate Basset Rescue, PO Box 4958, Petaluma, CA 94955.
A Vigil will be held at 6pm and a Rosary at 7pm on Monday August 29, 2016 at Saints Peter and Paul Church, 666 Filbert Street, San Francisco. A Mass of Christian Burial will follow on Tuesday August 30, 2016 at 10:30am. Private interment.
(The San Francisco Chronicle)