Sunday, May 23, 2010
Michael James Vijencio Gubitosi (Robert Blake) graduated from Hamilton High School in Los Angeles in 1951. His activities included Band, Rally Committee and Drama. At the time of his high school commencement, Blake was already an accomplished child actor having appeared in Our Gang shorts, The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) and many other movies.
In 1967 he had the haunting role of murderer Perry Smith in Richard Brooks' film adaptation of Truman Captote's In Cold Blood. Later he became a staple on television talk shows including The Tonight Show and Dinah! From 1975 to 1978 Blake achieved his greatest fame as a quirky police detective on ABC's Baretta (in a cosmic foreshadowing of later, real life events, Baretta's girlfriend is murdered in the pilot episode). He later starred as a streetwise priest in the short-lived show Hell Town.
On May 4, 2001 Blake's wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley, was found murdered in a car down the street from the Studio City, California restuarant, Vitello's. Blake and Bakley had just dined there. The actor was acquitted in her death by a Los Angeles jury on March 16, 2005. He has since been found liable for the wrongful death of his wife in civil court.
Filmmaker David Lynch perfectly captured the reputed menace of Robert Blake in a truly disturbing and bizarre scene from the 1997 film Lost Highway. Four years earlier the actor won his third Emmy nomination for portraying family killer John List in the TV movie Judgment Day: The John List Story.