LOS ANGELES, CA (CelebrityAccess) – Actor Robert Blake, who was acquitted of killing his real-life wife, died in Los Angeles. Numerous media outlets report Blake died of heart disease. His daughter Delinah Blake Hurwitz told CNN in an email that her father died “peacefully” on Thursday (March 9) surrounded by family. He was 89.
Born in New Jersey on September 18, 1933, Blake (born Michael Gubitosi) got his start in Hollywood as a child actor in the movie shorts Our Gang in 1939. After scoring the lead in the TV crime series Baretta in the 70s, he became a household name, playing an undercover NYC detective. The series aired on ABC from 1975 – 1978.
Blake, who starred in movies such as In Cold Blood and Treasure of the Sierra Madre worked as an actor for over six decades. Other credits include numerous studio Westerns, Of Mice and Men, Money Train, and Lost Highway in 1997, the actor’s last screen credit.
Hollywood made its way into Blake’s real life when on May 4, 2001, his wife Bonny Lee Bakley was found shot in the head in his car after they both left Vitello’s – a restaurant in Studio City, CA. Blake said at the time of the murder, he had returned to the restaurant.
He was arrested in April 2022 on charges of first-degree murder with special circumstances and two counts of solicitation of murder. He plead not guilty. That same year, Bakley’s estate filed a civil wrongful death suit against Blake, seeing damages on behalf of Bakley’s four children.
After a televised court trial, Blake was acquitted of murder in the criminal proceedings, but was found liable in the wrongful death civil suit. The actor was ordered to pay $30M in damages to his late wife’s family and children. It was later reduced to $15M after an appeal, but the wrongful death verdict remained.
Blake released a memoir in 2011 titled, Tales of a Rascal: What I did for Love, maintaining his innocence in connection to the murder.
According to a statement from the family, in lieu of flowers, his family requests donations be made to the City of Hope.
Blake is survived by his three children Rose Bakley, Delinah Blake Hurwitz, and Noah Blake.