- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 21, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Bill Cardoso, a writer who coined the term “gonzo” to describe the frenetic participatory journalism practiced by contemporary Hunter S. Thompson, died Feb. 26 of a heart attack at his home in Kelseyville, Calif. He was 68.

Born in Boston, Mr. Cardoso began his journalism career as a sportswriter for the Medford Mercury in the 1950s while a student at Boston University. He went on to write for the Boston Globe, covering the 1968 presidential campaigns of Eugene McCarthy and Richard M. Nixon.

It was on Mr. Nixon’s press bus that Mr. Cardoso met Mr. Thompson. When Mr. Thompson wrote his colorful, drug-riddled story “The Kentucky Derby Is Decadent and Depraved” for Scanlan’s Monthly magazine, Mr. Cardoso wrote a letter calling the piece “pure gonzo.”

The term stuck. Mr. Thompson embraced it, and so did Webster’s, including it in the New World Dictionary in 1979 as meaning “bizarre, unrestrained, extravagant, specifically designating a style of personal journalism so characterized.”

At times, Mr. Cardoso, whose work appeared in Rolling Stone, Ramparts and Esquire, invoked the “gonzo” style.

When he covered the Rumble in the Jungle, the 1974 boxing match in what was then Zaire between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali, the bulk of his story for New Times magazine focused on happenings outside the ring, including an encounter with Zairian paratroopers and a man selling python skin.

Mr. Cardoso worked as a reporter for United Press International in Los Angeles in the mid-80s. In 1984, Atheneum published a collection of his stories called “The Maltese Sangweech & Other Heroes.”

Survivors include his longtime companion, Mary Miles Ryan.

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