The Time Hunter S. Thompson Borrowed a Cup of Donna Rice

Former San Francisco Examiner editor David McCumber helps the paper celebrate 150 years.

SFExaminerLogoIn honor of today’s 150th anniversary of the San Francisco Examiner, the paper has combed through its archives to produce a number of entertaining reminders. Things like Mark Twain’s exact staff status when the paper was launched in 1865 and a funny Christmas Day typo involving Jack London.

There are also some wonderful reminiscences from David McCumber, a former editor who today oversees The Montana Standard. He spoke with reporter Laura Dudnick about the insane way the Examiner landed a 1987 Gary Hart photo scoop. McCumber was on the phone with columnist Hunter S. Thompson and Hart’s campaign manager Bill Dixon, at the exact moment Dixon learned The Miami Herald was about to break the story of the alleged sex scandal involving Hart:

As the story developed, McCumber and Thompson discovered that the woman involved was named Donna Rice. But a photo of her had yet to surface.

“I’m talking to Hunter about it and he said, ‘I know Donna Rice. She used to go out with Don Henley,'” referring to the former Eagles singer who at the time lived near Thompson in Colorado, McCumber said.

Henley was not home at the time, but McCumber recalled that Thompson broke in to Henley’s house and snatched a Polaroid photo of Rice that was thumbtacked to a corkboard in Henley’s kitchen.

“He took it to the Aspen airport, put it on air express, sent it to me in San Francisco, and we beat the world by a full cycle with the photo of Donna Rice,” said McCumber.

When the going gets wild, the wild get going. Read the rest of McCumber’s anecdotes here. Happy anniversary, Examiner!