BREAKING: Actor who won Emmy Award for iconic 1970s TV detective role passes away aged 89

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Robert Blake, famous for his role as the iconic 1970s television detective ‘Baretta’ passed away in Los Angeles, California, at the age of 89.


Robert Blake (born Michael James Gubitosi), the actor probably best remembered for his role as the undercover detective ‘Baretta’ in the 1970s, passed away in Los Angeles, California, this Thursday, March 9. His death from heart disease at the age of 89 was confirmed by his niece, Noreen Austin, as reported by

His glittering career in films and television spanned more than 60 years, starting out as a child actor in ‘Our Gang’. Blake played the streetwise undercover cop Tony Baretta from 1975 through to 1978. He spent four seasons on ABC starring in the Stephen J. Cannell creation ‘Baretta’. In 1977 he landed an Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series.

Anthony Vincenzo ‘Tony’ Baretta was an unorthodox plainclothes police detective carrying badge No609. He worked with the 53rd Precinct in an unnamed, fictional city. Baretta resided in Apartment 2C of the run-down King Edward Hotel with Fred, his Triton cockatoo. A master of disguise, Baretta was always shown wearing many of these while performing his duties.

Baretta often appeared with an unlit cigarette in his lips or behind his ear. His catchphrases included: ‘Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time’, ‘You can take dat to da bank’, and ‘And dat’s the name of dat tune’.

Image of Robert Blake as ‘Baretta’. Credit: Wikipedia – Press Photo by ABC Television

Throughout his years on the silver screen, he played a diverse range of characters. In the 1940s Blake found himself cast in Westerns under the name ‘Bobby Blake’. He went on to appear alongside such legends as Humphrey Bogart in the classic 1948 film ‘Treasure of the Sierra Madre’, and John Forsythe in ‘Cold Blood in 1967. The 1997 David Lynch film ‘Lost Highway’ was his final movie role.

As well as being a serious actor, Blake had a recurring role as a guest on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson’, where he would appear in comedy sketches alongside featured celebrities.

In 2001 Robert Blake found himself starring in a real-life police investigation after he was arrested for the alleged murder of his second wife Bonny Lee Bakley. She was discovered dead outside Vitello’s restaurant in Studio City and the actor was subsequently charged in 2002.

He also found himself charged with solicitation of murder, conspiracy, and special circumstances of lying in wait. In 2005, a jury finally found Blake not guilty of all the crimes. Bakley’s death remains unsolved to this day with her children bringing a wrongful-death suit against the actor shortly after he was released.


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Written by

Chris King

Originally from Wales, Chris spent years on the Costa del Sol before moving to the Algarve where he is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at