ROBERT BLAKE Biography - Actors and Actresses


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Name: Robert Blake                                                                       
Born: 18 September 1933                                                                   
Robert Blake (born September 18, 1933) is an American actor most famous for               
starring in the U.S. television series Baretta.                                           
He was born Michael James Vincenzo Gubitosi in Nutley, New Jersey, the son of             
Giacomo Gubitosi (January 14, 1906-August 15, 1956) and Elizabeth Cafone (born           
December 28, 1910). His brother was James Gubitosi (October 26, 1930-January 30,         
1995) and his sister Giovanna Gubitosi.                                                   
His father was born in Italy, arriving in the United States in 1907, and his             
mother was an Italian-American born in New Jersey. They married in 1929. In 1930,         
James worked as a die setter for a can manufacturer. Eventually, James and               
Elizabeth began a song-and-dance act. In 1936, the three children began                   
performing, billed as "The Three Little Hillbillies." They moved to Los Angeles,         
California, in 1938, where the children began working as movie extras.                   
Mickey Gubitosi's acting career began when he appeared as Toto in the MGM movie           
Bridal Suite (1939) starring Annabella and Robert Young. Gubitosi then began             
appearing in MGM's Our Gang short subjects under his real name, replacing Eugene         
"Porky" Lee. He appeared in 40 of the shorts between 1939 and 1944, eventually           
becoming the series' final lead character. James and Jovanni Gubitosi also made           
appearances in the series as extras.                                                     
During his early Our Gang period, Gubitosi's character, Mickey, was often called         
upon to cry, and the young actor has been noted by some film critics as having           
been unsubtle and unconvincing. In 1942, he acquired the stage name Bobby                 
Blake, and his character in the series was renamed "Mickey Blake". In 1944, MGM           
discontinued Our Gang, releasing the final short in the series, Dancing Romeo,           
on April 29.                                                                             
To date, Gubitosi is one of the few living Our Gang actors from the original             
series. Other notable surviving members are Jackie Cooper, Dorothy DeBorba,               
Dickie Moore, Shirley Jean Rickert, Jean Darling, Jerry Tucker, and Jackie Lynn           
In 1944, Blake began playing an Indian boy, "Little Beaver," in the Red Ryder             
Western series at Republic Pictures, appearing in twenty-three of the movies             
until 1947. He also had roles in one of Laurel and Hardy's later films The Big           
Noise (1944), and the Warner Bros. movies Humoresque (1946), playing John                 
Garfield's character as a child, and The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948),             
playing the Mexican boy who sells Humphrey Bogart a winning lottery ticket,               
getting a glass of water thrown in his face in the process.                               
According to Blake, he had an unhappy childhood with a miserable home life and           
was abused by his alcoholic father. When he entered public school at age ten, he         
could not understand why the other children were hostile to him. He had fights,           
which led to his expulsion. When he was fourteen, he ran away from home. The             
next few years were a reportedly difficult period in his life.                           
In 1950, he went into the army. When he returned to Southern California he               
entered Jeff Corey's acting class and began turning his life around, both                 
personally and professionally. He matured and became a seasoned Hollywood actor,         
playing some choice dramatic roles in movies and television. In 1956, he was             
billed as Robert Blake for the first time and in 1959 turned down the role of             
Little Joe Cartwright in the television series Bonanza.                                   
Blake performed in numerous theatrical motion pictures as an adult, including             
his starring role in The Purple Gang (1960), a gangster movie, and featured               
roles in such movies as Ensign Pulver (1964) and The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965).     
In 1967, he starred in his acclaimed role of real-life murderer Perry Smith in           
In Cold Blood, which was directed by Richard Brooks, who also adapted the story           
for the screen from the Truman Capote non-fiction work. Blake also starred in             
the role of an Indian fugitive in Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (1969), a TV               
movie adaptation of Of Mice and Men (1981) and as a motorcycle highway patrolman         
in Electra Glide in Blue (1973). He played a small town stock car driver in               
search of a shot at the big time in Nascar in the film Corky made in 1972 by MGM.         
The film featured small scenes with real nascar drivers of the day such as               
Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough, Blake driving a customized Plymouth Barracuda         
across the country to meet up with a supposed contact at Talladega speedway. It           
was a gritty role with Blake acting an emotional rollercoaster, going back to             
shoot his old boss as his life disintegrates around him, his inability to "straighten     
up" for his wife leading to their estrangement and ultimately his downfall.               
Blake is probably best known for his Emmy Award-winning role of Tony Baretta in           
the popular TV series Baretta (1975 to 1978), in which he played an undercover           
police detective who specialized in disguises. Trademarks of the show include             
his character's pet cockatoo, the proverbial sentence "Don't do the crime if you         
can't do the time," and a memorable theme song "Keep Your Eye on the Sparrow"             
written by Dave Grusin and Morgan Ames and performed by Sammy Davis, Jr.                 
He continued to act through the 1980s and 1990s, mostly in television, including         
the role of Jimmy Hoffa in the miniseries Blood Feud (1983) and John List in the         
murder drama Judgment Day: The John List Story (1993), for which he received             
another Emmy. He had character parts in the theatrical movies Money Train (1995)         
and Lost Highway (1997). Blake also starred in another television series called           
Hell Town in which he played a priest working in a tough neighbourhood.