The Mexican-American lawyer and activist played a prominent role in Hunter S. Thompson's 1971 classic Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas as "Dr. Gonzo" (the moniker came about after Acosta refused to allow Thompson to use his real name, especially considering Thompson's less-than-flattering portrayal of the "300-pound Samoan"). Describing his friend, Thompson wrote:
"Any combination of a 250 lb Mexican and LSD-25 is a potentially terminal menace for anything it can reach but when the alleged Mexican is in fact a profoundly angry Chicano lawyer with no fear at all of anything that walks on less than three legs and a de facto suicidal conviction that he will die at the age of 33 just like Jesus Christ you have a serious piece of work on your hands."
Acosta vanished in 1974 while traveling in Mexico. He was 39.