Best Known For
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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Blake starred on the series from 1975 to '78, winning an Emmy Award (outstanding lead actor in a drama series) for his performance during his inaugural year. By this time, Blake had also become known for his often volatile behavior.
Blake subsequently appeared in a slew of TV miniseries and special movie projects during the 1980s and '90s, including Of Mice and Men (1981); Blood Feud (1983); Hoffa (1983), in which he played the lead role. For the next 10 years,
Blake virtually withdrew from the spotlight. In 1993, he staged an unlikely comeback, receiving an Emmy nomination for his performance as a New Jersey accountant-turned-mass murderer in the TV drama Judgement Day: The John List Story, for which he received another Emmy nomination.
Blake went back to film thereafter, landing supporting roles in Money Train (1995) with Jennifer Lopez and Wesley Snipes, and Lost Highway (1997) with Patricia Arquette and Bill Pullman, among other parts.
In 1964, Blake married actress Sondra Kerry; they had two children before divorcing in 1983. In 2000, he wed Bonnie Lee Bakley, with whom he had a daughter.
In May 2001, Blake made headlines when his second wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley, was shot to death while waiting in a car outside a restaurant where the couple had just dined. Blake maintained his innocence throughout the ensuing investigation, but after almost a year, the police arrested him and his bodyguard in connection with the murder. A highly scrutinized trial followed with allegations that Bakley had a history of fraud and that Blake had hired stuntmen to orchestrate the killing. Blake was also interviewed by Barbara Walters and proclaimed his innocence, the clip of which was shown during the trial.
In March 2005, Blake was acquitted of the murder charge, as well as one count of soliciting murder, but eight months later, a jury in a civil suit found the actor liable for the murder and ordered him to pay $30 million in damages to Bakley's children. After Blake later appealed the case, the damages awarded were cut in half. The actor also filed for bankruptcy around this time
Blake generated a wave of new publicity about Bakely's murder in 2012. To promote his self-published memoir, Tales of a Rascal (2011), he appeared on Piers Morgan Tonight. Morgan questioned the actor about Bakely, and a defensive Blake said that she was a "con artist" and "had people that she burned." The actor became irate and was sometimes incoherent during this televised encounter, calling Morgan "a liar" and railing against the police who "ripped my guts out and left me beside the road to die."
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