Robert Blake - ’In Cold Blood’ actor who was once tried for wife’s murder, dies at 89
Actor Robert Blake - whose illustrious career in film and television was eclipsed by a murder trial involving his wife - has died aged 89. Blake was known for his leading role in 1970s TV detective series ‘Baretta’ and his role as a psychopathic killer in the film adaptation of Truman Capote’s ‘In Cold Blood’.
The actor died “peacefully with family and friends’’ at his home in Los Angeles on Thursday March 9, according to the family. A statement released by his niece, Noreen Austin, said Blake died from heart disease.
Blake started as a child actor in the Depression era comedy ‘Our Gang’, toward the end of the 30s, Blake’s career in film began. Despite garnering critical acclaim from fans and award shows, his career was stunted by his arrest in 2001.
That year, Bonny Lee Bakley, was shot in her husband’s car in Los Angeles and the actor was charged with fatally shooting his spouse. At the end of a complicated three-month trial, Blake was acquitted of murder.
However, despite being found not guilty, a wrongful death lawsuit was subsequently filed against Blake and a civil court found the actor was responsible for her death. He was ordered to pay a penalty of $30m (£25m) to his ex-wife’s estate - a fee which led Blake to declare bankruptcy.
After unsuccessfully appealing the entire penalty, Blake managed to get the sum lowered. The actor had three children, two from his marriage to Sondra Kerr and one to Bonny Lee Bakley.