An actor working from the 1930s to the 1990s, Blake worked with everyone from John Huston to David Lynch during his career.
Robert Blake, the Emmy Award-winning film and television star who was involved in more than half a century of Hollywood history, has died at the age of 89. The news was announced by Associated Press.
Born in New Jersey in 1933, Blake began working in films as a child actor in the late 1930s. Her first screen role was in Wilhelm Thiele’s 1939 film The Honeymoon Suite. He continued to work throughout the 1940s and 1950s, memorably appearing as a kid selling lottery tickets who has a drink thrown in his face in the 1948 film Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
Blake was one of the first child stars to successfully transition into adult roles. After a series of guest appearances on popular TV shows in the 1960s, he worked as a leading man until the end of the decade. He memorably played Perry in Richard Brooks’ 1967 adaptation of In Cold Blood, which remains one of his best-known film roles.
Blake quickly built on this success and was catapulted to television stardom in the 1970s. Beginning in 1975, he played Detective Tony Baretta on “Baretta,” earning two Emmy nominations and a win for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for his work on the procedural.
Blake continued to act in the 1980s and 1990s, and last appeared in 1997 as the mysterious man in David Lynch’s Lost Highway. But he returned to the zeitgeist after the turn of the century, when his second wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, was found dead outside a Los Angeles restaurant in 2001. He has become a suspect in Blake’s mysterious death and has been charged with one count of first degree murder, two counts of attempted murder and one count of conspiracy to commit murder.
Blake’s highly publicized three-month murder trial eventually resulted in an acquittal, and the actor memorably cried into his lawyer’s shoulder after the jury was told the news. Bakley’s children filed a civil suit against Blake for his role in their mother’s death, and a jury ultimately found Blake liable and ordered him to pay the family $30 million.
Blake kept a low profile in his final years, although he began to publicly discuss the murder trial in select media appearances in 2019. Quentin Tarantino’s novel Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was dedicated to Blake and many people pointed it out. the similarity between Blake and Cliff Booth’s character, who was rumored to have killed his wife.
Blake is survived by three children.
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