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Robert Blake is an Emmy-winning actor known for his film roles and as the star of the '70s cop drama Baretta. He's also known for the murder trial of his second wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley.
Robert Blake - Full Biography (44:19)
Actor Robert Blake made headlines when his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley was killed and he was later charged with her murder. Before his personal life made headlines, Blake starred on television as "Baretta" and on film in "In Cold Blood."
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Reportedly born on September 18, 1933, in Nutley, New Jersey, Robert Blake starred as Mickey in the Our Gang series of shorts before working in TV and film as a teen and adult. He starred in more than 70 films throughout the 1940s and '50s, earning critical acclaim for his starring role in 1967's In Cold Blood, and later garnered an Emmy for his role in the '70s gritty cop drama Baretta. Blake's media exposure waned until 2002, when he was accused of murdering his second wife,
"When I got to the sidewalk and started dancing, that's when I found love. People threw money. When you're 2 years old you don't have to do much to be cute, but I was talented."
"I'm a human being, I'm not a machine. I'm 72. I'm dyslexic."
Bonnie Lee Bakley. He was later acquitted, though he was found liable for her death in a civil trial.
Robert Blake was born Michael Gubitosi on September 18, 1933, in Nutley, New Jersey according to some accounts (in a 2011 interview, he stated that he is unsure of his exact date of birth, believing it fell sometime in September or October.)
Blake's parents were vaudeville performers, and he spent his childhood performing with his family's vaudeville act. During his childhood, Blake moved with his family to Hollywood, California, where he worked as an extra for the MGM studios. By the age of 6, he had a starring role in the Our Gang series of shorts (also known as The Little Rascals), including Dad for a Day, released in 1939, and Alfalfa’s Double, released in 1940. He starred as Mickey in the series, eventually having his acting name changed to Bobby Blake. Also in 1940, Blake had a bit part in the romantic comedy I Love You Again, starring Myrna Loy and William Powell.
Blake experienced a painful time growing up, reportedly suffering physical abuse from his father, and being introduced to liquor and cigarettes at a very young age.
During his teen years, Blake landed a lead part in the drama Mokey (1942), parts in the comedy fantasy film The Horn Blows at Midnight (1945) and Humoresque (1946), an uncredited but pivotal role in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), and a starring role in the Red Ryder Western series. By the mid-1950s, he had turned to dramatic fare, with TV work and small parts in films like Apache War Smoke (1952), Screaming Eagles (1956), The Rack (1956), The Tijuana Story (1957), Three Violent People (1957), Battle Flame (1959) and The Purple Gang (1960).
During the 1960s, Blake landed more noticeable roles, including those in the World War II adventure PT 109 (1963) and the mammoth religious epic The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965), and supporting roles in the biblical epic The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) and the romantic drama This Property Is Condemned (1966). Also around this time, he worked on the TV anthology The Richard Boone Show. In 1967, Blake starred in the popular murder drama In Cold Blood, a film based on the Truman Capote book of the same name. Blake received critical acclaim for his portrayal of homicidal drifter Perry Smith in the film.
More prominent roles followed in several films, including Tell Them Willlie Boy Is Here (1969) and Electra Glide in Blue (1973), before Blake turned once again to TV. In 1975, Blake was cast in the role for which he is best remembered: that of the title character on the TV police drama Baretta, which enjoyed three years on the air.
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