One Hell of An Eye
The Official Blog of Mike Salisbury
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“It doesn’t make sense. I mean what happened. It had nothing to do with the Clutters. They never hurt me. They just happened to be there. I thought Mr. Clutter was a very nice gentleman…I thought so right up to the time I cut his throat.”

–Actor Robert Blake as Perry Smith, In Cold Blood

Life Magazine, May 12, 1976; Scott Wilson, Truman Capote & Robert Blake

Life Magazine, May 12, 1967; Scott Wilson, Truman Capote & Robert Blake

Was murderer Perry Smith really a sensitive soul haunted by memories of a broken childhood?  Perry came from a violent childhood. His mother drank, his father flew into explosive rages; Perry was beaten in orphanages.

In 1967, the year Robert Blake appeared in the movie from the book by Truman Capote, his press said he was born Michael Gubitosi in Nutley, New Jersey, to an abusive, alcoholic father and a mother who showed him little affection.

Blake at trial after Bonnie's murder

Blake at trial after Bonnie's murder

Sexual and physical abuse, not to mention the psychological abuse that went along with that, was regularly inflicted on his young, impressionable mind and body by his parents.  Like Perry Smith, beatings were a regular occurrence, the report said.

In the 1975 pilot episode of Baretta, Blake’s character must cope with the killing of his new wife outside an Italian restaurant.

In 2005, Robert Blake was tried and acquitted for the 2001 murder of his new wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley, murdered outside an Italian restaurant, Vitello’s in Studio City.

Ten years after the release of In Cold Blood, 24 years before Bonnie Lee Bakley was murdered, surrounded by borrowed props that were a boy’s wishes for toys to find under the tree — a Jeep Honcho, a motorcycle with a Jose Eber cowboy hat on the handlebars and a saddled horse nearby, none with license plates — Robert Blake, wearing a t-shirt, jeans and Frye boots, jumped up on the roof of the truck, folded his hands together and crossed his legs, looking out over a ranch he implied was his also.

Robert Blake; photo by Mike Salisbury

Robert Blake; photo by Mike Salisbury

Mickey Gubitossi aka happy, dancing young star, Robert Blake

Mickey Gubitossi aka happy, dancing young star, Robert Blake

With no expression on his face, he told me as I took his picture that day that he was originally from Venice Beach, California, where as a cute and happy child living in a warm and family beach cottage, he danced on street corners for change.  According to IMDB, at the time of his life Blake was referring to in this comment, he was actually a movie star playing the role of the happy, dancing boy.  His acting career began when he was five years old, in MGM’s Our Gang, playing in 40 of the episodes between 1939 and 1944, “…becoming the series’ final lead character with his “cute good looks and his lovable personality” – IMDB

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Comments:

This is great! Airrion C

Very spooky dude even before all that…child star syndrome.  Chris N.

Always interesting. J. Tabler

Should the eyes ever fail…you’ll still have one hell of a pen! Sean A.

Great, but you might want to include a line about his Little Rascals career.  Bob G.

Thanks…I thought of that. But it sort of falls into the supposed “group tragedy” of that group  I wanted to isolate two events for which he invented a individual “selves” for each event.  And grim events.  MS.

You could easily do a book of these.  Jules S.

Thanks.  Actually a doc is being “developed” as we say in Hollywood!  MS

This is cool. I loved Baretta as a kid.  Thought the parrot was a nice touch. Nelson Q.

I think he ate the parrot. MS

Hope that was a joke. But I wouldn’t be surprised.  Nelson Q.

Whoever said this (opening quote) should run a studio.  Alan M.

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8 Responses to “The Separate Realities of Robert Blake”

  • Alex Swart Says:

    “Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time” (from the Baretta theme song). Nice recap, Mike.

    MS Reply:

    i was just reminded last night that at the the time he said he was dancing on street corners for change he was actually a movie star playing that role.

  • Lee Lefton Says:

    I’ve eaten parrot. It doesn’t go down easily. Yes, Nelson. That’s a joke. Great story as always, Mike.

    MS Reply:

    thanks lee.

  • Alan Metter Says:

    I was in Monument Valley with Blake Tom Wilkes and Jim Guercio, shooting stills at sunrise and sunset for Electra-Glide In Blue advertising. It was maybe 10 degrees out and I was freezing. Blake gave me his warm jacket and walked around in a tee-shirt in the bitter cold. Nice guy, Blake.

  • Smoky Callen Says:

    Fantastic internet site! I’m pleased I uncovered it, I’ll be checking back soon to see what other content articles you might have.

  • Russ Titelman Says:

    He was in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre” too.

  • Sara Says:

    OMG My mother dated Robert Blake! Not a big surprise if you knew my mother, actually no one knows her really, they were probably a perfect match. lol ;p