Robert Blake: the actor acquitted in wife's killin: dies at 89

Robert Blake: the actor acquitted in wife's killin: dies at 89

Robert Blake: the actor acquitted in wife's killin: dies at 89

Robert Blak

Robert Blak

LOS ANGELES — Robert Blake, the Emmy Award-winning actor who rose from recognition for his acting to stardom after being tried and acquitted  of his wife's murder, died Thursday at the age of 89. 

A statement released on behalf of his granddaughter Noreen Austin says Blake died of heart disease surrounded by his family at his Los Angeles home. 

Blake, star of the 1970s TV show Baretta,  hoped for a comeback but  never recovered from a long ordeal that began with the May 4, 2001 murder of his wife Bonny Lee Bakley outside the Studio City restaurant. 

The story of their odd marriage, the child they gave birth to and their abrupt end was a Hollywood tragedy played out in court. 

Once hailed as one of the finest actors of his generation, Blake rose to fame as the star of a real-life murder trial, a story more bizarre than any  he has starred in.

He was remembered by many not as Baretta's stern dark-haired protagonist, but as a ghostly white-haired man accused of murder. 

In an interview with the Associated Press in 2002 while he was in prison awaiting trial, he bemoaned the change in  status among his fans across the country: "It hurts because America is the only family I've had." 

He insisted that he had not killed his wife and the jury eventually acquitted him. But a  jury blamed him  for her death and ordered him to pay Bakley's family $30 million, bankrupting him.

The daughter he and Bakley had together, Rose Lenore, was raised by different parents and he didn't see Blake for years  until they spoke in 2019.She told People magazine that she calls him "Robert." not "dad". 

It was the shameful end of a life that had been in the spotlight since childhood. As a young man, he starred in the comedies Our Gang  and the classic The Treasure of the Sierra Madre. As an adult, he was acclaimed for his portrayal of the real-life assassin Perry Smith in  Truman Capote's best-selling book, In Cold Blood. 

His career peaked in 1975-78 with the crime television series Baretta.He played a detective who carried a  cockatoo on his shoulder and loved disguises.

Portraying soft-hearted, tough guys was typical of his specialty,  and his signature, "Don't commit a crime if you don't have the time," was mentioned many times. 

Blake won an Emmy Award for his portrayal of Tony Baretta in 1975, though the show was marred by behind-the-scenes arguments with the wayward star. 

He has earned a reputation as one of Hollywood's finest actors, but also one of the most difficult to work with. He later admitted that he struggled with alcoholism and drug addiction in his early years.

Robert Blake




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