Robert Blake

Actor / Crime Suspect
Date Of Birth:
18 September 1933
Date Of Death:
9 March 2023
Place Of Birth:
Nutley, New Jersey
Best Known As:
The Baretta star who was accused of killing his wife

Name at birth: Michael James Vijencio Gubitosi

An actor who played a cop on the TV series Baretta, Robert Blake gained greater notoriety in 2002 when he was charged with, and then acquitted of, 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. On film he had small roles in films like PT-109 (1962), and he starred as real-life thrill-killer Perry Smith in In Cold Blood, the 1967 film based on the 1962 novel by Truman Capote. Blake's biggest role was that of a cockatoo-carrying, disguise-wearing TV detective in the TV series Baretta, which ran on American TV from 1975-78. Blake won an Emmy in 1975 for his work in the role. Blake's last acting role turned out to be the character of The Mystery Man in David Lynch's offbeat 1997 feature Lost Highway. Robert Blake and Bonny Lee Bakley were married a few years later, in 2000, after paternity tests proved he was the father of her infant daughter Rose. On May 4, 2001, Bakley was shot and killed while sitting in a car owned by Blake near Vitello's Restaurant in Studio City, just 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. That award was later cut to $15 million; Blake filed for bankruptcy in 2006.
Extra Credit:

Robert Blake 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.

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