According to his niece Noreen Austin, Robert Blake, the controversial actor of ‘In Cold Blood’ and ‘Lost Highway,’ died at the age of 89 in Los Angeles from heart illness. Read More…
Robert Blake Dies At 89 From Heart Disease
Robert Blake, the star who won an Emmy award for his acting but later became infamous when he was accused of killing his wife and later acquitted, passed away on Thursday at the age of 89. Noreen Austin, his niece, released a statement saying that Blake passed away due to heart disease while being surrounded by his family at his residence in Los Angeles.
During his career as a professional actor spanning over 60 years, Robert Blake accumulated several notable credits, including his final screen appearance in David Lynch’s 1997 movie “Lost Highway” and the 1967 film “In Cold Blood,” both of which are memorable.
Blake, who was the lead actor in the 1970s TV series Baretta, had the desire to make a comeback. However, he was unable to recover from the traumatic experience he endured following the death of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, who was fatally shot outside a restaurant in Studio City on May 4, 2001.
Their peculiar marriage, the child they had together, and the tragic ending of their story became a Hollywood spectacle that was played out in court. Blake, once a highly regarded actor, began to be remembered by many as a white-haired murder defendant, due to his involvement in a real-life murder trial that was more peculiar than any of the stories he acted in.
Despite his insistence on innocence, a civil jury held him responsible for his wife’s death and ordered him to pay $30 million to her family, leading to bankruptcy. His daughter, Rose Lenore, was raised by other relatives and only spoke to him again in 2019. She told a magazine that she called him “Robert” instead of “Dad.”
His Early Life And Career
Born on September 18, 1933, in Nutley, New Jersey as Michael James Gubitosi, he was part of a family vaudeville act named The Three Little Hillbillies from the age of 2, with parents who wished for their three children to excel in show business.
After moving to Los Angeles, his mother got him and his sibling’s jobs as movie extras. While working on the set of Our Gang comedies, Bobby Blake caught the attention of producers and was cast in the series for five years, leading him to change his name to Robert Blake.
The spotlight shone on him from childhood, but his life ended ignominiously. He starred in Our Gang and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre as a youngster, and as an adult, he was acclaimed for playing Perry Smith in the film adaptation of Truman Capotes In Cold Blood.
Robert Blake’s career reached its height during the TV cop series, Baretta (1975-78), where he played a detective who carried a pet cockatoo and enjoyed disguises. This exemplified his specialty of portraying tough characters with a sensitive side, and his famous line “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time” became frequently quoted.
Despite disputes behind the scenes involving the temperamental star, Blake won a 1975 Emmy for playing Tony Baretta. However, he gained a reputation as one of Hollywood’s most difficult actors to work with and later admitted to struggling with addiction. In 1993, he won another Emmy for portraying John List in “Judgment Day,” a soft-spoken man who murdered his family.
In 1961, Robert Blake wed Sondra Kerr, an actress, and had two children, Noah and Delinah. The couple parted ways in 1983. Blake’s encounter with Bakley occurred in 1999 at a jazz club, where he sought solace from his loneliness. They had a daughter named Rosie.
Bakley initially named Marlon Brando’s son as the father of her baby girl, but DNA tests showed it was Blake. When Rosie was just 2 months old, Blake saw her and she became his main priority. He married Bakley because of their child.
Prosecutors alleged Robert Blake plotted to murder Bakley to gain custody of their child and attempted to hire hitmen for the task, but the jury ultimately dismissed this theory due to unclear evidence.