In November 2000, actor Robert Blake married Bonnie Lee Bakley. After being married for just seven months, Bonnie Lee was fatally shot in Blake’s car just minutes after the two exited an Italian restaurant in Los Angeles.
In 2002, Blake was charged with Bakley’s murder. Three years later, he was acquitted of the crimes. Tonight, in an interview with ABC News’ 20/20, Blake will speak about life since his acquittal.
Read on to learn more about Bonnie Lee Bakley, the second wife of the actor, whose murder officially remains unsolved to this day.
1. Robert Blake Was Her Tenth Husband
Bonnie Lee Bakley, a native of Morristown, New Jersey, had been married nine times before wedding Robert Blake.
One of four children to Edward Bakley and Marjorie Bakley, she dropped out of high school to move to New York City where she pursued a career in modeling and acting.
There, she met a man named Evangelos Paulais, who Thought Co. reports she agreed to marry for a price. The outlet writes, “…but not long after the two shared ‘I dos,’ Bakley, with the money safely tucked away, ended the marriage, and Paulakis was picked by the authorities and deported.”
Many of her ten marriages lasted only weeks, and one is reported to have just lasted just one day.
2. She Was Rumored to Be Focused on Finding Herself a ‘Celebrity Husband’
According to a 2001 People article, Bonnie was focused on finding herself a celebrity husband. She was said by friends and family to be celebrity-obsessed, and once quoted by EW as saying, “Being around celebrities makes you feel better than other people.”
Speaking to People, Paul Gawron, Bakley’s ex-husband, said, “That’s all she ever wanted to do, was meet stars… She’d read and find out where they were going to be and then she’d be there.”
With Gawron, Bakley had three children. Gawron also happened to be Bakley’s first cousin. Thought Co. writes of Bakley, “Bakley’s obsession to be in the inner circles of the famous mixed with the fact that she was not getting any younger. This motivated her decision to leave her kids in Gawron’s care and head to Memphis, Tennessee, to the door of musical artist, Jerry Lee Lewis.”
3. She Was Arrested a Number of Times
In 1989, Bakley was arrested for drug possession. Six years later, she was arrested for her attempts to pass two bad checks.
The arrests didn’t stop there, though. In 1998, Bakley was arrested for possessing a handful of driver’s licenses and Social Security cards. According to People, she had been involved in a series of scams. Frankie Jean Lewis, whose brother knew Bakley, tells People, “She wasn’t selling Girl Scout cookies… She was bad to the bone, but with a good heart.”
The outlet goes on to detail the nature of her scams. “Bakley allegedly advertised in magazines for male companions, and when they responded, she sent them desperate letters asking for rent money or travel fare.” She would then demand hundreds of dollars.
Friends also tell People that Bakley would sell nude photographs of herself. Her half brother Peter Carlyon tells People, “I’m not going to deny that she was a con artist—she was… She was not Mother Teresa.”
4. She Claimed She Was Unsure of Her Daughter’s Paternity
Leading up to her relationship with Blake, Bakley was romantically involved with Christian Brando, the son of Marlon Brando and actress Anna Kashfi. When her daughter, Christian Shannon Brando, was born, Bakley is reported to have told both Brando and Blake that she wasn’t sure which man was the father. She did, however, list Brando as the father on the birth certificate.
A paternity test eventually revealed that Blake was the father of the girl, whose name was legally changed to Rose.
An archived 2005 article reads, “Blake and Bakley married in November 2000. Several witnesses have testified that Blake only agreed to marry Bakley to retain custody of their infant daughter.”
5. Blake Was Found Not Guilty of Bakley’s Murder in 2005
In 2005, Blake was found not guilty of the murder of Bonnie Lee Bakley.
In November of that same year, however, he was found liable for Bakley’s wrongful death in a civil trial. He was ordered to pay $30 million to the children of his wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley, as a result.
In February 2006, Blake filed for bankruptcy. His lawyer appealed the jury’s verdict, but in April 2008, the appeals court upheld the decision. The amount Blake owed was cut in half, to $15 million.
Since then, rumors have surfaced that Blake may be interested in returning to acting to pay off some debts from his legal troubles.