Friday, December 23, 2011

Robert Blake Redux


Charged in 2002 with the murder of his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley, he made headlines around the world with his eventual acquittal and subsequent "wrongful death" civil judgement which bankrupted him.

Actor Robert Blake recently appeared on PBS' Tavis Smiley Show, to let us all understand that he's okay with "the boss," that he sleeps well, and that he has been "at the edge of that address," many times. It is a fascinating interview with a man who began a show business career as a child on Hal Roach's "Our Gang; Little Rascals" comedies, a feature film actor, then as an Emmy award winner on television's "Baretta" in the 1970's. A veteran of Hollywood, many film dévotées recall his riveting, 1967 portrayal of Perry Smith, the convicted killer of Truman Capote's In Cold Blood. (Capote did extensive research with the actual killers to write what would be his last novel. In 2008, In Cold Blood was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".). 

Besides chronicling a life where art attempted to foreshadow life, perhaps the reason why this interview seems so compelling is beyond the personal history of the man on camera with Tavis, and beyond the fact that Blake made so many films at the studio where this interview takes place, ("It's like I came out of the La Brea Tar Pits as the ghost of Lot 3...") but it is also compelling in the vivid, street-level brush strokes Blake uses to paint his self-portrait during his own third act.

ROBERT BLAKE, interviewed by Tavis Smiley – video courtesy PBS