Robert Blake is an American former actor whose career spanned over five decades (1939 to 1997) in Hollywood. He started his career as a child and it has been dubbed one of the longest in Hollywood’s history. Blake has been featured in many films and TV series notably In Cold Blood and the TV series Baretta. He also made headlines in 2002 when he was accused of killing his second wife in 2001 but was tried and acquited of the crime in 2005. Learn all there is to know about him here.
Robert Blake’s Bio
He was born Michael James Gubitosi on September 18, 1933, in Nutley, New Jersey, USA. Besides Robert Blake, he is also known by several other monikers including Bobby Blake, Lyman P. Docker, and Mickey Gubitosi. His parents were Elizabeth Cafone and Giacomo (James) Gubitosi both of whom were Italians. He had two siblings; an elder sister, Jovanni Gubitose aka Joan Blake who died in 1985 and older brother James Gubitosi who died in 1995. His father committed suicide in 1956.
Following the end of their father’s career as a die setter for a can manufacturer, the three Gubitosi children joined their parents’ in their song-and-dance act in 1936, performing under the name, The Three Little Hillbillies. Two years after, the family relocated to Los Angeles where the kids worked as movie extras. Despite all the activities that went on in his childhood, one most of us would pine for, Robert Blake described it as unhappy and difficult. He was allegedly abused by his parents and was bullied in school.
Robert Blake was expelled from school at the age of 10 and fled home four years later. The years that followed his flight from home was even more difficult as he had to fend for himself, transforming into a man overnight. He was nevertheless, grateful that he survived and found immense success as an actor.
He began acting at the age of 6, appearing in his first movie Bridal Suite (1939) as Toto. He was then known as Mickey Gubitosi. Following up, he started appearing in the movie series Our Gang (1922-1944) as Mickey, from 1939 to 1944 and gained wide prominence in turn. His siblings also appeared as extras in the short films. Besides the fame and the platform the series provided him, it went ahead to pay more dividends long after it was aired. He received the Former Child Star “Lifetime Achievement” Award by the Young Artist Foundation in 1995.
During the burgeoning years of his child career, he was willing to take up any role and often dubbed himself as one who can do anything. As such, he played numerous child roles in a wide range of films such as Double Life (1942), the comedy film, The Big Noise (1944), the Red Ryder movie series from 1944 to 1947, Humoresque (1946) and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948). In 1950, he took a break from acting to join the military service.
After the intermission, Mickey Gubitosi returned to his forte. He enrolled in an acting class to brush up on his skills. His enterprise paid off and he ultimately became known as a sought-after Hollywood actor. As such, he pulled off notable dramatic roles both on the big and small screens, becoming billed for the first time as Robert Blake in 1956.
In the late ’50s, he had roles in episodes of several syndicated western series including 26 Men, The Cisco Kid, and Men of Annapolis. These were followed by a series of guest roles in numerous series including Have Gun Will Travel, The Restless Gun, The Rebel, The Californians, Straightaway, and Laramie. He also appeared in films such as Pork Chop Hill (1959), The Purple Gang (1960), Town Without Pity (1961), Ensign Pulver (1964), and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965).
He further gained exposure as a member of the ensemble cast of the NBC short-lived anthology series The Richard Boone Show, appearing in 15 of the show’s 25 episodes in 1963. Blake also played Billy the Kid in a 1966 episode of the syndicated anthology series, Death Valley Days. The following year, his career experienced a breakout when he played the real-life murderer Perry Smith in In Cold Blood.
His role in the TV series Baretta (1975-1978) as an undercover police detective won him an Emmy Award. In the years coming up to the end of his career, he appeared mostly on TV in roles such as John List in the murder drama Judgment Day: The John List Story (1993) for which he received his third Emmy nomination. He also played the chilling and sinister Mystery Man who murders his wife in Lost Highway (1997), a film inspired by the case.
Robert Blake had a successful career and was recognized as a star in the field. Though he amassed wealth during his hay days as an actor, all seemed to go down during his murder trial. He filed for bankruptcy listing $3 million in liabilities on February 4, 2006, which was followed by a lien filed against him by the state of California in April 2010 for his unpaid $1,110,878 taxes. His net worth has been estimated to be $1.1 million.
Robert Blake’s Family – Wife, Daughter
The Beretta actor was previously married to actress Sondra Kerr from 1961 to 1983. In their two decades marriage which ended in a divorce, they had two children; actor Noah Blake (b. 1965) and Delinah Blake (b. 1966).
Years later, he met Bonnie Lee Bakley in 1999. The woman was infamous for her history of exploiting older men—especially celebrities—for money and has already been married nine times. Their daughter named Rosie was born in June 2000 though Bakley initially claimed the child was sired by Christian Brando, son of the actor Marlon Brando whom she was dating at the same time she was with Blake. A paternity test, however, proved the baby was Blake’s daughter.
They eventually tied the knots and Blake became her tenth husband on November 19, 2000, until her death on May 4, 2001. In 2017, he married Pamela Hudak and on December 7, 2018, it was announced that Blake had filed for divorce after one year of marriage.
Is He Dead or Alive?
Like the storyline in Lost Highway, a similar event play out in real life and interestingly, Blake was a principal character. His second wife was shot brutally in 2001 while sitting in Blake’s vehicle which was parked outside the restaurant where they had dinner.
Over a year after her death, he was arrested and charged with her murder, solicitation of murder, conspiracy, and a special circumstance of lying in wait. He spent a year in jail and in March 2003, was set free to await his trial with $1.5 million parole. In March 2005, he was tried and acquitted of the crimes. However, months later, he was found liable in a civil court for her wrongful death in a lawsuit brought against him by Bakley’s older children and was ordered to pay over $30 million in damages. That could denote that the case is still unsolved.
The seasoned actor is still alive and although his career has been stalled for a very long time, he still hopes he would be offered one more great acting role before he dies.