In a career spanning the best part of 70 years, Robert Blake went from child star of MGM’s Little Rascals to The Mystery Man in David Lynch’s Lost Highway, the last character he played before the murder of his wife in 2001. Bonnie Lee Bakley was shot in the head at point-blank range in Blake’s car, which was parked around the corner from the Studio City restaurant the couple ate at that night. Blake claimed he had to return to the restaurant to collect his missing gun when the fatal shooting of his wife took place.
Police determined that Blake’s missing gun was not the one used to kill Bakley, though Blake was arrested in 2002 when two former stuntmen came forward claiming that the actor had tried to hire both of them to murder his wife on separate occasions. Both men had a history of drug abuse, something Blake’s legal team leaned on heavily during Blake’s defense. Three years after his arrest, Blake was acquitted, though a civil court claim later found him guilty of “intentionally” causing Bakley’s death and ordered him to pay $30 million to Bakley’s children.
Blake’s criminal trial was the nail in his career coffin, though that didn’t stop the then-71-year-old actor from issuing a plea to producers in the aftermath. He proclaimed himself “broke” and announced himself available for work. Unsurprisingly, work never came.