Actor Robert Blake:
After an acting career than spanned more than 60 years, actor Robert Blake was arrested and charged with the murder of his wife and mother of his daughter, Bonny Lee Bakley. A jury was selected for his much-delayed murder trial on Dec. 1, 2004.
Born Michael Gubitosi on September 18, 1933, in Nutley, New Jersey, Robert Blake spent his childhood as a performer in his family's vaudeville act. After the family moved to California, Blake appeared for five years in the "Our Gang" comedy short series for MGM.
Robert Blake began his movie career in 1940 with a part in the romantic comedy "I Love You Again" starring Myrna Loy and William Powell. He appeared in more than 70 films during the 40s, including an uncredited role in "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre" in 1948. Other films he appeared in during the decade include "The Horn Blows at Midnight" and "Humoresque."
During the 1950s, Blake began moving into adult roles, but most of his parts came in second-rate action movies. His credits during the period include "Apache War Smoke" in 1952, "Screaming Eagles" in 1956, "The Tijuana Story" in 1957), and "Battle Flame" in 1959.
In the 60s Blake had parts in some first-run movies including "PT-109" and "The Greatest Story Ever Told." But the role for which he will probably be most remembered was that of Perry King in the multi-Oscar winning 1967 film "In Cold Blood," based on the book by Truman Capote.
Robert Blake is probably best known for his role in the television cop series "Baretta," which ran three years from 1975 until 1978. He won an Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a drama series for the role. After the series was cancelled, Blake appeared in a series of made-for-television movies.
Blake continued to appear in television movies, such as "Of Mice and Men" in 1981 and "Blood Feud" in 1983, but then he dropped out of the spotlight for most of the 1980s.
In 1993, Robert Blake made a comeback with his Emmy-award-winning performance in the television movie "Judgement Day: The John List Story." He also appeared in "Money Train" in 1995 and "Lost Highway" in 1997.
Bonny Lee Bakley:
Bakley was a con artist and a predator, who enjoyed pursuing the rich and famous. She made a fortune by placing lonely hearts ads in newspapers and magazines and then bilking those who replied out of as much as she could. She would also marry some of her victims and get them to change their wills, cutting their adult children out of their inheritance. There were a lot of people who had a motive to kill Bonny Lee Bakley.
Robert Blake and Bonny Lee Bakley:
Robert Blake met Bonny Lee Bakley in a nightclub and they began a casual romantic relationship. When Bakley became pregnant, she first tried to convince Marlon Brando's son Christian that he was the father of the child, but after a paternity test proved that Blake was the father of the child, he married her.
On May 4, 2001, Blake and Bakley went to Vitello's restaurant in Studio City, which was a regular hangout for Blake. They left the restaurant around 9:40 p.m. and got into Blake's sports car. Blake returned to the restaurant, he said, to retrieve a handgun that Bakley had reportedly given him to carry because she was concerned about a stalker.
When Blake returned to the car, he found Bakley shot in the head, bleeding, but still alive. He walked across the street to a friend's house and asks him to call 9-1-1. Bonny Lee Bakley, 44, was pronounced dead on arrival at St. Joseph's hospital.
Blake had a handgun in his possession, but it was not the murder weapon and he had no signs of gunshot residue on his hands. The murder weapon was found a few blocks away in a dumpster. It was not registered to Blake. He maintained his innocence throughout the year-long investigation into the case, but was arrested and charged with her death.
Employees at the restaurant told police that when Blake returned to the restaurant to retrieve the gun he supposedly left, that he looked "shaken" and asked for a glass of water. They said they saw no gun.
They also reported that Blake had been coming to the restaurant for years -- there was even an item on the menu named after him -- and had never made a reservation, because they did not require reservations. On that night, however, Blake had made a reservation.
They also said Blake always used the restaurant's valet parking service, but on May 4, 2001, he parked on the street instead.
See Also: Profile: Bonny Lee Bakley
Murder in Hollywood by Gary C. King
Our Bodies, Ourselves: Clara Harris and Bonny Bakley