Lawrence A. Richette, 54, journalist, novelist, play and screenwriter.

Richette
Richette
Posted: December 31, 2013

LARRY RICHETTE had a way of making lurid headlines.

There was the time he was arrested for beating his mother, the late Common Pleas Judge Lisa A. Richette. He once flashed a woman TV reporter. There was an arrest for shoving a cop, breaking into Democratic headquarters in Washington and a couple of other altercations over the years.

He became such a pariah in his South Philadelphia neighborhood that residents held a special town meeting in September 2010 to discuss what to do about him.

But Larry also made a name for himself in cultural, political and literary circles as a journalist, novelist, playwright, screenwriter and political consultant.

Lawrence A. Richette was found dead Dec. 16 in his home on Pemberton Street near 22nd, apparently of natural causes. He was 54. A friend went to his home after acquaintances became concerned that they hadn't seen him for a while.

"The announcement of a new Larry Richette book is always good news," a reviewer gushed in 2008 over Private Screenings, described as "a look at New York City in the 1980s. AIDS, greed, career obsession, cocaine and all your other '80s favorites are there."

Another book, The Fault Line, published in 2004, is based on the deadly MOVE debacle in May 1985, with real-life protagonists barely disguised with fictional names. The hero is a lawyer who represents a back-to-nature cult that he calls LIVE.

Larry was not present at the MOVE disaster, but later covered the investigating commission established by then-Mayor W. Wilson Goode to examine what happened. Larry wrote about the investigation for the Philadelphia City Paper, for which he served later as political editor and wrote a column about the city's political doings.

"I wanted to show how somebody, who happened to be a radical, can, purely through his own good intentions, make a bad situation even worse," he said about the book.

He said he felt that he had succeeded in treating the disaster objectively, as was his purpose, when he said other reportersĀ told him they found the book "very balanced."

"What I want Philadelphia to take away from my book is to remember what happened and no longer repress it," Larry said.

Larry was political editor of the City Paper until 1992.

Chris Hill, co-founder of City Paper, said in a piece about The Fault Line: "When Larry started with us as a freelance writer in the early '80s in our decrepit old room at 13th Street and Sansom, he wrote me some beautiful social pieces, such as his pieces about the '70s, capturing perspectives of the time wonderfully."

Another of his novels concerned the career of the late singer Lily Strang. He described the book, My Last Addiction, as "an act of love."

"I once swore to Lily that she would never burn out," Larry said. "And now she never will.

"I can't forgive the bastards who savaged her best work for years. They made Lily cry, and there's no greater sin."

As a novelist, Larry said his major influence was writer Don DeLillo.

One of his plays was "A Pure Desire," based on the life of artist Georgia O'Keefe. He and his mother attended the American premier of the play at Columbia College in South Carolina in November 1987.

In May 2008, he announced that he planned to produce and direct a movie, "Tricks," which he also wrote, about a male prostitute who is involved with a governor's wife.

Larry Richette was the son of Judge Lisa Aversa Richette and lawyer Lawrence Richette. The two divorced and, for a time, Richette unsuccessfully tried to stop her from using his name.

Larry was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy, Episcopal Academy, Yale College and Columbia University.

His mother died in October 2007 of lung cancer at the age of 79. In August that year, Larry, her only child, was accused of assaulting her in her Center City home. She suffered a head cut and was hospitalized.

Larry denied attacking her. He said she fell out of bed.

"They arrested me for beating her up, which is about the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard," Larry said. "There's no question I've been taking good care of her. No question in anybody's mind except the stupid police."

Larry later agreed to enter an anger-management treatment program to avert a trial.

When NBC10's Monique Braxton went to his home to ask him about the incident, he greeted her at the door in a robe, then opened it to expose himself. He was not charged.

In 1988, he was accused of harassing a police officer who arrested him after a minor traffic accident. A Municipal judge found him not guilty but told him he should be more respectful of the police.

In 1984, he was charged with breaking into the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee offices in Washington, D.C., where he had worked as a press aide.

His father, Lawrence, said the case was "blown out of proportion." He said his son entered the offices with a key he had been given, looked at some records, but took nothing.

In September 2010, neighbors in the 2200 block of Pemberton Street even held a meeting to discuss Larry Richette, according to reports.

He had no immediate survivors.

Services: Funeral Mass 10 a.m. Thursday at St. Patrick Church, 242 S. 20th St. Friends may call at 9 a.m.

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