Actor Robert Blake, who was once tried for murder, has died aged 89

Robert Blake, the US actor who was acquitted after being tried for the murder of his wife, has died aged 89.

Blake, who shot to fame in the late 1970s cop TV series Baretta, died of heart disease, a statement from his niece on Thursday (March 9) said.

On May 4, 2001, Blake’s wife Bonny Lee Bakley was shot dead outside a restaurant in the Studio City neighbourhood of Los Angeles.

Though protesting his innocence until his death, Blake was tried for the murder of Bakley, eventually being acquitted.

Despite this, he was later found liable for her death by a civil jury and ordered to pay her family $30million (£25m) which send him into bankruptcy and his career would never recover.

Robert Blake
Robert Blake leaving court in 2004. Credit: Getty Images.

In her statement, Blake’s niece Noreen Austin said that the actor spend his later years “enjoying jazz music, playing his guitar, reading poetry and watching many Hollywood classic films.”

Alongside his performance in Baretta, for which he won an Emmy, Blake was also nominated for the award for his portrayal of a real-life mass murderer in 1993’s Judgement Day: The John List Story and his final role came in 1997’s Lost Highway from David Lynch, a film about a man who kills his wife.

Blake referenced his murder trial many times after his acquittal, saying in 2002: “Here I was, 67 or 68 years old. My life was on hold. My career was stalled out. I’d been alone for a long time.”

In 2012, he told ANN of Bakley (via Reuters): “I didn’t know her well enough to know her. I love her … but we were not dramatically in love or things like that.

“Bonnie had people that she burned … I think she was a con artist, yes. I think she came to Hollywood to con her way into show business.”