Robert Blake, the former Baretta star who was acquitted of killing his wife in 2005, has passed away at the age of 89. The news was confirmed by his manager, who stated that Blake died on May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles.

Blake was a controversial figure in the entertainment industry, known for his tumultuous personal life and run-ins with the law. He was born Michael James Gubitosi in Nutley, New Jersey on September 18, 1933, and began his acting career as a child star, appearing in films such as “Our Gang” and “Little Rascals.”

In the 1950s, Blake transitioned to television and became a household name in the 1970s with his iconic role as detective Tony Baretta in the crime drama series “Baretta.” The show ran for four seasons, from 1975 to 1978, and Blake’s performance earned him an Emmy nomination.

However, Blake’s career was overshadowed by his troubled personal life, particularly his marriage to Bonny Lee Bakley. The couple had a tumultuous relationship, and Blake was the prime suspect in Bakley’s murder in 2001. Bakley was shot to death outside a Los Angeles restaurant after the couple had dinner.

Blake maintained his innocence but was arrested and charged with murder in 2002. The trial was a media sensation, and Blake was ultimately acquitted of all charges in 2005.

Despite his acquittal, Blake’s reputation was forever tarnished by the scandal, and he struggled to find work in Hollywood. In the years following the trial, he made occasional appearances on television and in films, but his once-promising career never fully recovered.

Throughout his life, Blake was often described as a difficult and combative personality, prone to outbursts and confrontations. He was known for his outspoken political views, frequently endorsing conservative candidates and causes.

Despite his controversial reputation, many fans and colleagues remember Blake as a talented actor and an important figure in the history of television. His performance as Tony Baretta remains an enduring cultural icon, and his contributions to the entertainment industry will not be forgotten.

In the wake of his passing, many have offered their condolences and shared fond memories of the actor. Actor Danny Bonaduce, who worked with Blake on the 1970s sitcom “The Partridge Family,” tweeted that Blake was “truly one of the greatest actors of my lifetime.”

Others have reflected on Blake’s troubled personal life and the legacy of the Bakley murder trial. Some have criticized the media’s handling of the case, arguing that Blake was unfairly painted as a villain by the press.

Regardless of one’s opinion on Blake and his life, there is no denying that his passing marks the end of an era in television history. With his iconic performance as Tony Baretta, Blake helped to define a generation of crime dramas, and his influence can still be felt in popular culture today.

In many ways, Blake’s story is a cautionary tale of the perils of fame and fortune. Despite achieving great success in his career, he was unable to overcome the personal demons that haunted him throughout his life. His passing is a reminder that even the most talented and beloved figures in the entertainment industry are only human, with flaws and foibles like anyone else.

As we remember Robert Blake, let us mourn the loss of a talented performer and a complex human being. May he rest in peace.