LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The following are select facts about the life and career of screen actor Robert Blake, who was acquitted in 2005 of murdering his wife but later found liable for her death in a civil trial:
* Blake was about 6 years old when he started his Hollywood career. Before that, he and his brother and sister were part of an act known as “The Three Little Hillbillies” on the vaudeville circuit. Even though his earnings would provide most of his family’s income, Blake said his father used him as “his punching bag.”
* One of Blake’s childhood roles was playing a Mexican boy who implores Humphrey Bogart’s character to buy a lottery ticket in “The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” As a child he also worked with Laurel and Hardy, Jack Benny, John Wayne, John Garfield and Gene Autry.
* While Blake was awaiting his murder trial, actor Anthony Hopkins visited him in jail and said he had studied Blake’s work in the movie “In Cold Blood” as preparation for playing the creepy killer Hannibal Lechter in “The Silence of the Lambs,” according to the Los Angeles Times. Other jailhouse visitors included musician-composer Quincy Jones, comedian Mort Sahl, and Scott Wilson, Blake’s “In Cold Blood” co-star.
* Blake’s son Noah Blake became a television actor with credits that include a regular role in the 1990s sitcom “Harry and the Hendersons” and one-off parts in shows such as “The Office,” “ER” and “Diagnosis Murder.”
(Prepared by Bill Trott; Editing by Stephen Coates)