Robert Blake, Emmy-Winning Star of ‘Baretta,’ Dies at 89 After Turbulent Life Marked by Murder Trial
Robert Blake, the Emmy-winning actor famous for his role in the 1970s television show “Baretta” and his subsequent high-profile trial for the murder of his wife, has passed away at the age of 89 from heart disease. His niece, Noreen Austin, issued a statement confirming his death and said that family surrounded him in his Los Angeles home.
Although Blake was once considered one of the finest actors of his generation, his notoriety increased when he was tried and acquitted of killing his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, who was shot outside a restaurant in Studio City on May 4, 2001. Blake was arrested and charged with one count of murder with special circumstances, two counts of solicitation of murder, and one count of conspiracy to commit murder almost a year after the incident.
After a long and tumultuous legal battle, Blake was eventually acquitted of murder in March 2005. However, a civil jury found him liable for Bakley’s death and ordered him to pay $30 million to her family for wrongful death, which led to his bankruptcy.
Blake’s career was marked by his impressive performances in various TV shows and movies, including his portrayal of real-life murderer Perry Smith in the movie “In Cold Blood.” He won an Emmy for his role in “Baretta,” where he played a detective known for his pet cockatoo and his fondness for disguises.
Despite his acting success, Blake was known for his difficult behavior on set and his struggles with addiction. In his later years, he spent his time playing guitar, reading poetry, and watching classic films.
Robert Blake’s passing marks the end of life in the spotlight, from his early days as a child actor in “Our Gang” to his rise as a leading man in Hollywood.