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Robert Blake, ‘Lost Highway’ actor, dies at 89

The actor Robert Blake, known for “Baretta”, “In Cold Blood” and “Lost Highway”, in addition to being acquitted of the murder of his wife, has died. He was 89.

Blake died Thursday of heart disease at his Los Angeles home, according to a statement from his family.

Blake, born Michael Gubitosi in Nutley, NJ in 1933, was a child actor who played one of the Little Rascals in dozens of the popular “Our Gang” short films. He also appeared in the classic “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.”

As an adult, Blake played real-life assassin Perry Smith in an adaptation of “In Cold Blood,” a role that apparently inspired Anthony Hopkins prior to the filming of “The Silence of the Lambs.”

FILE - Director Richard Brooks, right, makes a comment while speaking with actors Scott Wilson, left, and Robert Blake during filming of the book adaptation. "in cold blood," in March 1967 in Kansas City, Kan.

He won a Leading Actor Emmy Award in 1975 for the title role in the crime drama “Baretta,” which popularized the phrase, “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do it.”

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In his last feature film role, he gave a memorable performance as a mysterious stranger in David Lynch’s mind-bending “Lost Highway.”

However, Blake’s late career was defined by a murder trial for the shooting death of his wife Bonny Lee Bakley, 44, outside a San Fernando Valley restaurant in May 2001.

Blake told investigators that Bakley was shot in his car after he went in to get a gun he had left inside the restaurant. He was charged with murder, solicitation of murder, conspiracy, and special circumstances stalking in 2002.

In the bizarre trial that followed, prosecutors accused Blake of trying to hire hitmen to kill Bakley so he could have sole custody of the couple’s daughter.

Blake was ultimately acquitted during his criminal trial, but filed for bankruptcy after a civil jury found him responsible for Bakley’s death and ordered him to pay his family $30 million. Bakley’s murder officially remains unsolved.

Blake is survived by actor Noah Blake and Delinah Blake, his children by his ex-wife, actress Sondra Kerr, and Rose, the daughter he had with Bakley.

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