Robert Blake, a New Jersey-born, Emmy-winning actor who rose to fame after being acquitted in the murder of his wife, passed away on Thursday at the age of 89. Blake was born in New Jersey and won an Emmy for his performance.
Blake died at home in Los Angeles of heart disease, according to a statement released by his niece, Noreen Austin. Blake was surrounded by family at the time of his death.
Blake, the star of the 1970s television series “Baretta,” had once hoped for a comeback, but he never recovered from the long ordeal that began on May 4, 2001, with the shooting death of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, outside a Studio City restaurant. The story of their strange marriage, the child it produced, and its violent end was a courtroom dramatisation of a classic Hollywood tragedy.
Blake, once regarded as one of the finest actors of his generation, is now better known for his involvement in a real-life murder trial, a story more bizarre than anything he ever acted. Many remembered him as a ghostly, white-haired murder suspect, not as the rugged, dark-haired star of “Baretta.”
In an interview with The Associated Press conducted in 2002 while he was incarcerated awaiting trial, he lamented the change in his relationship with his fans across the country: “It hurts because America is the only family I’ve ever known.”
He was adamant that he had not murdered his wife, and a jury eventually exonerated him. However, a civil jury found him responsible for her death and ordered him to pay $30 million to Bakley’s family, a judgement that sent him bankrupt. Rose Lenore, the daughter he and Bakley had together, was raised by other relatives, and it was not until 2019 that she and Blake spoke. She would inform People magazine that she referred to him as “Robert” and not “Dad.”
It was a disgraceful conclusion to a life spent in the public eye since childhood. As a child, he starred in the comedies “Our Gang” and the film classic “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” As an adult, he was praised for his portrayal of real-life murderer Perry Smith in “In Cold Blood,” the film adaptation of Truman Capote’s best-selling true crime novel.
His career peaked with the 1975-1978 television police drama Baretta. He portrayed a detective who favoured disguises and carried a cockatoo on his shoulder. It exemplified his specialty of portraying tough guys with soft hearts, and its catchphrase, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time,” was frequently cited.
Blake was awarded an Emmy in 1975 for his portrayal of Tony Baretta, despite the fact that the show was beset by disputes involving the temperamental star. He earned a reputation as one of the most difficult actors to work with in Hollywood. He later admitted that he struggled with alcohol and drug dependency in his youth.
Robert Blake won another Emmy in 1993 for his performance as the title character in “Judgment Day: The John List Story,” in which he portrayed a soft-spoken, religious man who murdered his wife and three children.
Blake’s career had slowed considerably prior to the trial. After the mid-1980s, he made only a handful of film appearances; his last film was David Lynch’s “Lost Highway,” released in 1997. According to his niece, in recent years Blake “enjoyed jazz music, played the guitar, read poetry, and viewed numerous Hollywood classic films.”
Michael James Gubitosi was born on September 18, 1933 in Nutley, New Jersey. His Italian immigrant father and Italian American mother wanted their three children to succeed in the entertainment industry. Blake performed with his brother and sister in a family vaudeville act called “The Three Little Hillbillies” when he was 2 years old.
Little Mickey Gubitosi was plucked from the crowd by producers who cast him in the “Our Gang” comedies when his parents relocated the family to Los Angeles and his mother found work for them as movie extras. During his five years on the show, he changed his name to Bobby Blake.
In 1946’s “Humoresque,” he portrayed a young John Garfield, and in the Oscar-winning “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre,” he played the young boy who sells Humphrey Bogart a crucial lottery ticket.
In his adulthood, he landed significant film roles. The most significant breakthrough occurred in 1967 with “In Cold Blood.” Later, films such as “Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here” and “Electra Glide in Blue” were produced.
Blake married actress Sondra Kerr in 1961, and the couple had two children, Noah and Delinah. They split up in 1983.
In 1999, he met Bakley in a jazz club where he had gone to escape his loneliness.
“There I was, aged 67 or 68. My life was suspended. “My career was stagnant,” he told the AP in an interview. I had been alone for quite some time.
He stated that he had no reason to dislike Bakley: “She brought me out of the stands and back into the arena. “I had a reason to live.”
When Bakley gave birth to a daughter, she identified Christian Brando, son of Marlon, as the child’s father. DNA tests, however, pointed to Blake.
Rosie was two months old when Blake first saw her, and she quickly became the focus of his life. He wed Bakley in order to have the child.
“Rosie is my blood. He stated, “Rosie is calling to me.” I have no doubt that Rosie and I will depart together into the sunset.
Prosecutors would assert that he attempted to hire hitmen to murder Bakley in order to gain sole custody of the child. However, because the evidence was unclear, the jury rejected this theory.
Blake and his 44-year-old wife dined at a neighbourhood restaurant, Vitello’s, on her last night alive. He asserted that she was shot when he left her in the car and returned to the restaurant to retrieve a handgun he had forgotten. Blake was not apprehended until a year after the commission of the crime, as the police were initially perplexed and Blake was not identified until a year after the commission of the
After spending millions on his defence, he was forced to rely on social security and a Screen Actors Guild pension.
In an interview with the AP in 2006, one year after his acquittal, Blake expressed his desire to resume his career.
He stated, “I’d like to give my best performance.” “I’d like to leave Rosie a legacy of who I am. I am not yet prepared for a dog and fishing pole. I’d like to go to sleep every night eager to wake up every morning and create some magic.”
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