Robert Blake, who earned dozens of screen credits during his long Hollywood career, died Thursday at 89; but producers did not include him in Sunday’s Oscar ‘In Memoriam’ segment. In fact, host Jimmy Kimmel made a joke at Blake’s expense prior to the segment.
Blake was found not guilty of murdering his wife in 2001, but was still omitted from the ‘In Memoriam’ where the Academy highlights the various talents lost in the year prior.
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“Everybody please get out your phones, even at home, it’s time to vote: If you think Robert Blake should be part of the In Memoriam montage, text GIMME-A-Blake to the number on your screen, or to any number,” Kimmel quipped. “Text that to your mother if you like. Message and data rates may apply.”
Blake enjoyed an illustrious show business career decades ago, overshadowed in later years by his legal battles. He made films including 1967’s In Cold Blood, 1948’s Treasure of the Sierra Madre and 1997’s Lost Highway.
Authorities charged Blake in 2002 with fatally shooting his spouse, Bonnie Lee Bakley, to gain custody of their young daughter. He allegedly tried to solicit others to kill his wife, as well.
However, the jury acquitted Blake at the end of a sensational three-month trial. His defense team portrayed the victim, Bakely, as a star-struck career swindler who ran a mail-order lonely hearts business and entrapped the actor into marriage via pregnancy.
Robert Blake maintained his innocence until the end of his life, but rarely spoke about the case after his overturned conviction
Civil courts eventually ruled Blake fiscally responsible for her Bakely’s death. Bakley had married and divorced nine times when she met Blake in 1999. She had allegedly supported herself by creating false identities and using magazine ads to persuade men to send her money, authorities said. Actor Blake claimed his wife’s checkered past led a still-yet-to-be-captured assailant to mysteriously gun her down.
Bakely’s children won a wrongful death suit against Blake in November 2005 for $30 million in damages. Blake would file for bankruptcy protection three months later. The case is still open.
Among those included in the In Memoriam segment were late entertainers Olivia Newton John, Kirstie Alley, Robbie Coltrane, and James Caan. Actor John Travolta opened the ceremony with some words of mourning, and Lenny Kravitz played in the background during the montage.
Some popular names excluded from the TV segment included Paul Sorvino, Anne Heche, Charlbi Dean, Leslie Jordan, Sacheen Littlefeather and Tom Sizemore. Each year, the Academy defends its position to ‘cut’ some notable talents out of the segment. Often, producers blame the time crunch that live TV places on the run of show; but fans often wonder if the decisions are secretly personal in some way, too.