Steve Gorman and Bill Trott
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – Actor Robert Blake rose to adult fame as a streetwise undercover cop on the popular 1970s television series Barrette, a child actor on the comedy Our Gang who was killed in his wife’s murder in 2001. Indicted, died at the age of 89.
Blake, who also received critical acclaim for his role as a psychopathic killer in the 1967 film adaptation of Truman Capote’s “In Cold Blood,” was found in his Los Angeles home surrounded by family, according to statements made to CBS and other news outlets. and died. Agency by his niece Noreen Austin.
Blake was charged with murdering his spouse, Bonnie Lee Bakery, in 2002, but was later acquitted. A lawsuit filed by her children then resulted in a civil court ruling that Blake was responsible for her death.
Born Michael James Gubitosi in Nutley, New Jersey, Blake got his start when he and his two brothers joined his parents’ song-and-dance vaudeville act known as the “Three Little Hillbillies.” I started in show business as a young man. The family moved to California.
He began appearing as Mickey in the ‘Our Gang’ short film series, also known as ‘The Little Rascals’, in 1939.
Blake was acquitted in 2005 of murdering Bakley, who had a record of cheating on men for romance, less than a year into their marriage. Bakley’s children successfully sued the actor in civil court.
Intense media coverage likened the case to that of former football star OJ Simpson. Simpson was acquitted of murder charges in his 1994 stabbing to death of his ex-wife and her friend, but he was found guilty in a civil trial. 1990s.
Blake was only eight years old when he started appearing as Mickey in the latter part of the “Our Gang” shorts. He then played the character He’s an American Boy, Little He’s a Bieber in the ‘Red Rider’ western series.
After leaving child acting and enlisting in the Army, Blake worked steadily in television, appearing in films such as ‘Pork Chop Hill’, ‘Purple Gang’ and ‘Town Without Pity’.
Despite his short stature, he possessed an intimidating and tough-talking persona on and off screen. , brought with its chilling portrayal of Perry Smith, one of the two castaways who killed a family of four.
“Don’t commit crimes…”
Blake then had starring roles in the films Electra Glide in Blue and Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here, but his greatest fame came from 1975 to 1978 on ABC. Playing the unconventional big city detective Tony Barreta in .
His “Baretta” character was rough around the edges and often disguised himself to solve crimes. He had a pet parrot named Fred and was known for catchphrases such as “You can take it to the bank” and “That’s the name of the song”. The show’s theme song centers around the line “If you can’t have time, don’t commit crimes.”
This role earned Blake an Emmy Award in 1975 and another nomination in 1977.
He also played a real-life mass murderer in the 1993 TV movie Judgment Day: The John List Story and earned an Emmy Award nomination for playing Teamster Guild boss Jimmy Hoffa in 1983’s Blood Feud. I was.
Blake returned to television in 1986, creating the series Helltown and starring as a priest who helps children on the streets. He said he was behaving violently and had suicidal thoughts.
His last role was in David Lynch’s 1997 film Lost Highway, where he was listed as a “mysterious man” about a man who kills his wife.
Blake’s acting career was overshadowed four years later by the unsolved Bakeley murder case. , maintained multiple identities and used magazine ads to persuade men to send money.
She was also reportedly obsessed with marrying celebrities, and gave birth to a girl in 2000. Yes, he was dating at the same time.
Blake and Bakeley had been married for less than a year when they went to dinner on May 4, 2001 at an Italian restaurant in the Studio City section of Los Angeles. A pistol he said he accidentally left behind in an eatery. Blake told police he returned to his car to find his wife bleeding from the gunshot.
Investigators determined that Blake’s gun did not kill Bakley and that the real murder weapon was found in a nearby dumpster.
murder, no witnesses
Blake was arrested, charged with murder nearly a year later, and spent several months in prison before being released on bail. Having no evidence and feeling that Blake tricked him into marrying her by getting pregnant, they filed their case on the premise that Blake wanted Bakley dead.
The prosecution presented two former stuntmen who testified that Blake had tried to hire them to kill Buckley, but when the stuntmen turned him down, Blake, who did not testify at trial, committed the crime himself. committed.
After four months of testimony and nearly two weeks of deliberation, the jury acquitted Blake.
The Bakley children won a wrongful death lawsuit against Blake in November 2005, awarding him $30 million in damages and three months later he filed for bankruptcy protection. Blake’s appeal overturning the civil verdict was dismissed, but his damages were reduced to his $15 million.
Blake always maintained his innocence, gave several incoherent interviews over the years, and focused his anger on the police officers involved in his case and how he was left bankrupt.
“I didn’t know her as well as I knew her,” he told CNN in 2012.
“Bonnie had people she burned … I think she was a con artist. Yes. I think she came to Hollywood to scam her way into show business.”
Blake, who has four children, was married to actress Sondra Kerr for 22 years before divorcing in 1983. He married his old friend Pamela Hudak in 2017, but they split in 2019.
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