Robert Blake, 'In Cold Blood' Star Who Was Acquitted of Murder in Real Life, Dead at 89

Robert Blake, the actor who was tried and acquitted in the killing of his wife in 2005, has died. The Emmy-winner, who won acclaim for his performances in the TV series Baretta and the film adaptation of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, was 89. Blake had one of the longest careers in Hollywood history, making his movie debut when he was 6 years old.

Blake died from heart disease, according to a statement released to The Associated Press on behalf of his niece, Noreen Austin. He died with his family by his side at his Los Angeles home. Blake is survived by his two children with his former wife Sondra Kerr – Noah Blake and Delinah Blake – and his daughter with Bonnie Lee Bakley, Rosie.

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Blake's career was overshadowed by the death of his second wife Bakely. In May 2011, she was fatally shot in the head while sitting in Blake's car, across the street from a restaurant in Studio City. Blake was arrested in April 2002 and charged with murder, while one of his bodyguards was arrested for conspiracy in connection with the murder. The trial finally began in December 2004 and ended in March 2005 when a jury found him not guilty of murder. However, Blakely's three children filed a civil lawsuit against the actor.

In November 2005, he was found liable for Bakely's wrongful death and ordered to pay $30 million. The penalty was later cut in half after Blake's attorney filed an appeal. Blake ran into financial difficulties and filed for bankruptcy months after the civil trial ended. After the acquittal, Blake stayed out of the spotlight, although he did an interview with 20/20 in 2019. He also started a YouTube channel called Robert Blake I Ain't Dead Yet, So Stay Tuned, where he posted videos about his movies until June 2022.

Blake was born Michael James Gubitosi in Nutley, New Jersey on Sept. 18, 1933. Blake's family moved to Los Angeles in 1938, and he made his film debut as "Mickey Gubitosi" the following year. He starred in MGM's Our Gang shorts until 1944 and got his stage name "Bobby Blake" in 1942. In 1944, Blake starred as "Little Beaver" in the Republic Pictures serial Red Ryder, and would later have a role in the classic The Treasure of the Sierra Madre in 1948.

After serving in the U.S. Army, Blake returned to Hollywood in the early 1950s to resume his career. He bounced between movie and TV roles for the rest of the decade. By the 1960s, Blake was coming into his own as an adult star. His biggest role was as Perry Smith in Richard Brooks' film adaptation of In Cold Blood.

It was not until 1975 that he scored the role that many remember him for, Detective Anthony Vincenzo "Tony" Baretta in the hit ABC crime drama Baretta. The series earned Blake an Emmy in 1975 and another nomination in 1977. Blake also had Emmy nominations for playing Jimmy Hoffa in Blood Feud (1983) and starring in Judgement Day: The John List Story (1993). Blake's final onscreen role was in David Lynch's 1997 mystery film Lost Highway.

Blake was married to Kerr from 1961 to 1983. Blake met Bakely in 1999 and became her 10th husband in 2000 after a paternity test proved he was the father of her daughter Rosie. They were married until her killing. Blake married Pamela Hudak, who testified on his behalf during his trial, in 2017 and filed for divorce a year later.