Even by Hollywood standards, Robert Blake cut a bizarre figure when he was recently wandering around town dressed in a black shirt with the sleeves cut off and a cowboy hat adorned with a purple feather.
The 81-year-old former actor was hardly recognizable as the gruffly appealing star of the hit 1970s TV show Baretta. Since his acquittal 10 years ago for the murder of his wife of six months, Bonny Lee Bakley, Robert has rarely been spotted in public.
Robert on July 30, 2015. (Photo Credit: Splash)
While the star has been nearly invisible in the decade since his sensational murder trial, there is one person who will never forget him: Holly Gawron, Bonny Lee’s daughter, who was just 20 years old when her mother died at the age of 44 of a gunshot to the head.
“I was hoping he’d go to prison,” Holly tells Closer in an exclusive interview. “Robert Blake ruined my life.”
Bonny Lee's daughter Holly in December 2004. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
During the trial, Bonny Lee was portrayed as a con artist who tricked the famous actor into marrying her (she had been on probation for mail fraud during their relationship). But that’s not the woman Holly remembers. “She was very ladylike,” says Holly. “And she worked really hard. She took care of people. She was very generous. And the coolest mom ever — she was everything to me.”
Bonny Lee met Robert in a jazz club in 1999 (he was 66 and had just made a comeback in David Lynch’s surreal thriller Lost Highway), and they hit it off. Soon she was flying from Little Rock, Ark., to visit her new love in California. But when she became pregnant, Robert was livid. “He’d call her, cursing and threatening,” recalls Holly. “She was so confused — she really liked him.”
To read the full story on Robert Blake, pick up the new issue of Closer Weekly, on newsstands now!