Robert Blake died from heart disease, surrounded by family at home in Los Angeles. The Emmy award-winning actor who was previously accused, charged to court, and acquitted for shooting and killing his wife, died at the age of 89 years old.
Robert Blake, star of the 1970s TV show, Baretta never recovered from the long trial which began with the shooting and death of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, outside a Studio City restaurant on May 4, 2001.
The circumstances of their marriage, the child it produced, and its violent end made headlines then.
Robert Blake long torturous trial for the murder of his wife made many forget who he actually was behind movie scenes; rugged, dark-haired star of Baretta, but to see him as a white-haired murder defendant.
He bemoaned the change in his status with his fans nationwide: “It hurt because America is the only family I had,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press in 2002. Robert Blake had the interview while he was jailed awaiting trial.
Robert was resolute that he did not kill his wife and a jury ultimately acquitted him. However, a civil jury found him liable for her death and ordered him to pay her late wife’s family $30 million.
The financial hit sent poor Robert Blake into bankruptcy.
Rose Lenore, the daughter he and Bakley had together, was raised by other relatives and went for years without seeing him, until they spoke in 2019. She would tell People magazine that she called him “Robert,” not “Dad.”
Robert Blake’s career got to the peak with the 1975-78 TV cop series, Baretta where he acted as a detective who carried a pet cockatoo on his shoulder and was fond of disguises. It was typical of his specialty, portraying tough guys with soft hearts, and its signature line: “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time,” was often quoted.
Blake was awarded an Emmy for his portrayal of Tony Baretta. However, behind the scenes, there were many disputes within the show involving the temperamental star. He gained a reputation as one of Hollywood’s finest actors, but one of the most difficult to work with. He later admitted to struggles with alcohol and drug addiction in his early life.