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‘Baretta’ actor Robert Blake dies at 89, niece says

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Robert Blake family archive

Robert Blake, who is known for his roles in Baretta and In Cold Blood, “passed away peacefully surrounded by family by his side in Los Angeles,” his rep said in a statement obtained by ABC News on Thursday. He was 89.

The cause of death was heart disease, according to Blake’s niece, Noreen Austin.

The actor, who has starred in many television and film roles, is also known for being acquitted for the 2001 shooting death of his second wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, after forensic evidence showed he didn’t fire the murder weapon. At the time, two main witnesses against Blake were also lacking in credibility.

Blake got his start in acting at the age of 5, first appearing in the 1939 film Bridal Suite, then in the short film series Our Gang, which led to more than 200 film roles.

He went on to star in the syndicated Western The Cisco Kid, and continued to appear in several TV shows across CBS, NBC and ABC.

In 1967, Blake’s portrayal as murderer Perry Smith in the Truman Capote film adaptation of In Cold Blood was dubbed as a breakout role.

Blake starred in a few more film roles including the 1972 film Corky and the TV movie adaptation of Of Mice and Men in 1981.

He’s best known, however, for his role as police detective Tony Baretta in the TV series Baretta, which aired from 1975-78 and earned him an Emmy for outstanding lead actor in a drama series.

Blake’s family said that a private memorial service will be held to honor his life.

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