Name at birth: Michael James Vijencio Gubitosi
An actor who once played a cop on TV, Robert Blake was charged in 2002 with the shooting death of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. As a child actor, Robert Blake appeared in the Our Gang movie series; as an adult his specialty was hard-bitten heroes with soft hearts, particularly the cockatoo-carrying, disguise-wearing TV detective Baretta (1975-78). Blake and Bakley were married in November of 2000 after paternity tests proved he was the father of her infant daughter Rose. On 4 May 2001, Bakley was shot and killed while sitting in a car near Vitello's Restaurant in Studio City after having dinner with Blake. After an investigation of nearly a year, Blake was arrested and charged with murder. (His bodyguard Earle Caldwell also was arrested and charged with conspiracy.) Police alleged that Robert Blake had shot Bakley himself after trying to hire others to do the killing. After many procedural delays, Blake's trial took place in 2005; the jury deliberated for nine days before ruling Blake not guilty of the murder charge. Later that same year, a civil suit was brought against Blake by the children of Bakley; Blake was found responsible for Bakley's death and ordered to pay a reported $30 million to her children.
Robert Blake won a 1975 Emmy for his portrayal of Tony Baretta… He played labor kingpin Jimmy Hoffa in the 1983 TV movie Blood Feud… The Baretta theme song (“Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time…”) was sung by Sammy Davis, Jr.… Prior to her relationship with Robert Blake, Bakley was romantically involved with Christian Brando, son of actor Marlon Brando.