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'Baretta' actor Robert Blake passes away at age 89

BY Mahi

Actor Robert Blake, a child star from the "Our Gang" comedies who won adult fame as a street-wise undercover cop on the popular 1970s television series "Baretta" before being charged in the 2001 killing of his wife, has died at age 89.

Blake, who also won acclaim for his role as a psychopathic killer in the 1967 film adaptation of Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood," died at his home in Los Angeles, surrounded by family members, according to a statement released to CBS and other news agencies by his niece, Noreen Austin.

Blake was charged in 2002 with murdering his spouse, Bonnie Lee Bakley, but was later acquitted.

A lawsuit subsequently filed by her children led to a civil court judgment that Blake was responsible for her death.

Born in Nutley, New Jersey, as Michael James Gubitosi, Blake got his start in show business as a youngster when he and his two siblings joined his parents' song-and-dance vaudeville act, known as "The Three Little Hillbillies," before the family moved to California.

He started appearing as Mickey in the "Our Gang" short film series, also known as "The Little Rascals," in 1939.

Blake was acquitted in 2005 of murdering Bakley, who had a record of conning men seeking romance, after less than a year of marriage.

But a few months after the criminal case verdict, Bakley's children successfully sued the actor in civil court.

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