Sep. 18th, 1933
Nutley, New Jersey, USA
Robert Blake's Main TV Roles
Main Movie Roles
Guest TV Roles[none found]
American actor who began as a child in Our Gang comedies and reappeared as a powerful adult performer of leading and character roles. Born in New Jersey, the young Mickey Gubitosi won a role in MGM's Our Gang series the age of five. As one of the more prominent children in the Gang, he gained attention for his cute good looks and his lovable, if somewhat melancholy, personality. In 1940, he took on the stage name Bobby Blake (though he continued to use the name Mickey Gubitosi in the Our Gang series for another three years) and began playing child roles in a wide range of films. He gained a good deal of fame as the Indian sidekick Little Beaver in the Red Ryder series of Westerns. Though roles were sporadic as he grew to manhood, he was never long off the screen (except for a period of military service, 1954- 1956). But despite some fine work in films like Pork Chop Hill (1959) and Town Without Pity (1961), his career did not take off until his stunning portrayal of killer Perry Smith in In Cold Blood (1967). A number of telling performances in films of the next decade, stardom in a popular television series ("Baretta" (1975)), and several ruefully comic appearances as a guest on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (1962) made him a popular figure even as his personal difficulties increased. Consumed with anger over his treatment by his family and the studio as a child, he denigrated his early work, suffered bouts of difficulty with drugs, and became known as a difficult, perfectionistic person to work with. He quit his successful TV series "Hell Town" (1985) when his personal demons became overwhelming. After a self-imposed exile of nearly eight years, during which he struggled to right his life, he successfully returned to films and television work, appearing renewed and more confident in himself and his work. But in 2001, the murder of his wife Bonnie Bakley thrust Blake into the limelight in a different way. Admittedly having married Bakley through the coercion of her pregnancy, a routine Bakley had apparently tried with various other celebrities, Blake made no denial of his distaste for the woman, but was by all accounts thrilled with the daughter born to them. Blake was arrested for his wife's murder, but the presumption of innocence trumped what jurors believed to be flimsy evidence, and Blake was acquitted in a trial which made worldwide headlines. Reportedly broke from legal costs, Blake indicated hopefulness that he might be allowed to return to acting work.
- He received accolades for his performance as a killer who goes to the gallows in 1967's _In Cold Blood (1967)_ (qv), and he won a 1975 Emmy for _Baretta (1975) (TV)_ (qv), but his career had been stalled for years.
- Appears in the film _Lost Highway (1997)_ (qv), about a man who murders his wife. It was inspired, according to 'David Lynch (I)' (qv), by the 'O.J. Simpson' (qv) case. Blake later became the centre of another high-profile wife-killing case in real life.
- Father of 'Noah Blake' (qv).
- (4 May 2001) Blake's wife, 'Bonnie Lee Bakley' (qv), was shot in the head and killed while sitting in her car waiting for her husband outside of a restaurant.
- To prepare for the role of Hannibal Lecter, 'Anthony Hopkins' (qv) had watched Blake's performance in _In Cold Blood (1967)_ (qv) several times (Hopkins said this having visited Blake, whom he didn't know personally, in prison after being accused of murdering his wife).
- Almost had the role of Jim Rockford on _"The Rockford Files" (1974)_ (qv), but 'Stephen J. Cannell' (qv) thought that, since Rockford didn't like to fight, the diminuitive Blake would have seemed too cowardly in the role.
- Although he is of Italian descent, for many years he specialised in playing either Latino characters or Native Americans.
- Passed on Ratzo Ritzo in _Midnight Cowboy (1969)_ (qv), and lost out on a role in _The Godfather (1972)_ (qv) (presumably in the role of Michael or Sonny). He also turned down the role of Angel in _The Wild Bunch (1969)_ (qv).