Blake was born Michael Gubitosi in 1933 in Nutley, New Jersey. His parents, James and Elizabeth, were a song-and-dance team. Blake has said his childhood was marred by severe psychological, physical and sexual abuse. He told People magazine in 1993 that his parents, who are now dead, "locked me in a closet and left me there all day long. They made me eat on the floor like a dog."
At age 5, soon after his family relocated to Los Angeles, Blake started acting in "Our Gang" comedy shorts. In 1942, the young actor took the screen name Bobby Blake. He worked on and off in show business through his teens and 20s. In 1967, winning praise for a breakthrough role as mass murderer Perry Smith in the screen version of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood."
He married actress Sondra Kerry in 1964 and had two children, Noah and Delinah. The couple later divorced. In 1975, Blake starred in the television series "Baretta" as a tough-talking detective with a pet cockatoo named Fred. He won an Emmy for outstanding actor in a drama series, but the show was canceled after 3 1/2 seasons.
People magazine reported.that after "Baretta," Blake suffered from depression and alcohol abuse.
Blake's wife of six months, Bonny Lee Bakley, was shot and killed behind Vitello's a family style North Hollywood restaurant. Blake was accused and subsequently acquitted of both her murder and two counts of solicitation of her murder on March 16, 2005. During the trial he often appeared surprised, annoyed and bored, although, on one occasion outside the courtroom, he broke into song, singing "Over the Rainbow".
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