Richard Setlowe, a longtime entertainment journalist who transitioned from his Variety staff job to become a network exec and later a prolific novelist, died Aug. 25 at Kaiser Permanente in Panorama City, Calif. after long-term health issues. He was 89.
Setlowe worked as a writer and editor at the San Francisco Examiner and contributed to Time, Life and TV Guide. He also wrote for Variety on film, music and drama, from 1962 through 1998. He was Variety‘s Bay Area correspondent for several years and became a full-time staffer in September 1969, including a stint as lead film reviewer.
He left journalism to become VP of creative affairs at ABC Pictures in March 1971.
Setlowe was born in New York on April 21, 1933, and raised there and in Tennessee. He attended Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., where he was a running back on the football team. He transferred to USC on a Navy scholarship and earned a BS in social studies. After graduation with a commission as a Navy officer, he volunteered for Navy flight school and was later assigned as a naval officer aboard aircraft carrier Midway. His first novel, “The Brink,” centered on the role of the Midway in the Taiwan Strait Crisis, which almost erupted in a nuclear war.
He wrote four more novels, “The Experiment,” “The Haunting of Susana Blackwell,” “The Black Sea” and “The Sexual Occupation of Japan.” He taught writing at UCLA and earned a Masters of Professional Writing at USC at the age of 74.
He also enjoyed his pursuits as private pilot, scuba diver, tennis player and snow skier. His wife of 50 years, Beverly Setlowe, died in 2012. He is survived by sons David Higgs and Chris Balaam and grandchildren Chase Higgs, Hailey Holfelder, Adam Balaam, Eric Balaam, great-grandson Luca Holfelder and niece Kimberly Setlowe.
A private celebration of his life will be held at Beyond Baroque Theater in Venice, Calif., on Sept. 18 at 1 p.m. Donations may be made to the American Cancer Society.