Controversial actor Robert Blake passes away

 March 10, 2023

Fox News reported that a celebrity who was once accused of murdering his wife passed away this week. 

Noreen Austin is the niece of former actor Robert Blake, and she told the network that he died of heart disease on Thursday.

Blake got his start as a child actor

"He died at home with family around him peacefully, long-term heart issues," Austin said in a statement provided to Fox News. She added that her uncle "spent the last few years listening to jazz music and playing his guitar and watching classic movies."

Fox News noted that Blake gained prominence as a child actor on "The Little Rascals" as well as staring in dozens of westerns, such as "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre."

The young performer also appeared in a 1944 comedy film called "The Big Noise" as well as a picture set in the Middle Ages titled "The Black Rose."

Blake went on to find success as an adult through his portrayal of the real-life murderer Perry Smith in a film adaptation of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood."

Suspicion centered on Blake following their wife's murder

Blake played the titular character on "Baretta," a television show that focused on undercover New York City police officers. As Detective Tony Baretta, he was often heard saying, "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."

Blake became the subject of controversy in May of 2001 when his wife, 44-year-old Bonny Lee Bakley, was shot to death roughly a block away from a Los Angeles restaurant where she and her husband had dinner.

She was killed after Blake went back to the restaurant, allegedly to retrieve a firearm that he had inadvertently left there. The actor later said that he had begun carrying a weapon due to fears over his wife's safety.

Blake's lawyer, Harland Braun, subsequently produced letters that appeared to show that Bakley had multiple affairs and swindled men out of their money.

Blake divorced his third wife in 2018

Blake was taken into custody almost a year after his wife's killing and his case finally went to trial in December of 2004.

Although the actor maintained his innocence and was ultimately found not guilty of murder, a jury later ordered him to pay $30 million to Bakley's family after a wrongful death suit.

Before being with Bakley, Blake was married to fellow actress Sondra Kerr for 22 years, with the couple divorcing in 1983.

Meanwhile, Fox News reported in 2018 that Blake split from his third wife, Pamela Hudak, just one year after they had wed.

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