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Interview With Robert Blake

Aired May 16, 2005 - 21:00   ET


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We, the jury in the above entitled action, find the defendant, Robert Blake, not guilty of the crime of first- degree murder of Bonny Lee Bakley, in violation of...


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Robert Blake exclusive. His first live prime-time interview since that dramatic moment two months ago, when a jury found him not guilty of his wife's murder. Robert Blake for the hour, with your phone calls, next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening. If I don't sound quite like me, I am fighting a virus. But valiantly in the tradition of show business, the show must go on.

During the course of the show tonight, we'll play some of Robert Blake's recent deposition in a case that's going to be a civil matter, in which he is being sued by the family of the deceased. That's set to go to trial later this year. The tapes were provided to this program by Mr. Blake's attorneys.

What was that moment like that we just saw?

ROBERT BLAKE, ACTOR ACQUITTED OF WIFE'S MURDER: How do you explain, or how do you describe -- I wish I was a poet, you know? Great moments in my life -- I'm a little -- I have about 10 million reasons why I'm a little bit antsy right now. But at the top is that I just became a grandfather two days ago.

KING: Oh, congratulations. Boy or girl?

BLAKE: Delina (ph) had a little baby girl, six-and-a-half pounds, named Natalie. And so Rosie's got a little sister. And I haven't been sleeping too much. I've been at the hospital back and forth, and all like that. And so...

KING: How is Rosie doing?

BLAKE: Rosie's great. Rosie's spectacular.

KING: How old now?

BLAKE: Rosie will be 5 this summer. And Natalie, she's great. And I just -- God has always been on my shoulder since I was conceived. And so that's the way it is.

KING: Did Rosie know all about what was going on?

BLAKE: When?

KING: During the trial, did Rosie -- was she aware?

BLAKE: Rosie was a little girl. She was a baby.

KING: She was 3...

BLAKE: Pardon?

KING: She was 3 then, right? They can comprehend.

BLAKE: Well, what would you like me to tell her?

KING: No, but I mean, she could have heard from other people.

BLAKE: I think Rosie's doing spectacular. I think Deli (ph) is an exquisite mother. Greg (ph) is an exquisite father. And I couldn't be more blessed. And I'm sure Rosie's going to have a very interesting life...

KING: I'll bet.

BLAKE: ... to say the least.

KING: Do you see her a lot?

BLAKE: Sure. Well, I've been keeping the wind in my hair, pretty much. I've been out traveling around crazy.

I have got to tell you the truth. I don't really want to be here. I mean, I'm here -- don't take it personal, please. Just hear me out. This is not my style, to do one-on-one. I mean, I wish you had a bus full of ladies with blue hair from Pasadena sitting out there so we can make them laugh and like that.

I'm used to just sitting next to Johnny for ten minutes hitting the marks, saying the jokes, making people laugh, and go home. But there's some stuff that I would like to say, and I couldn't find an audience.

KING: All right. You've got it here.

BLAKE: Oprah, whoever I went to, they said, "Well, well" -- so that's why I'm here. I'm going to do a good job for you, but it ain't my style. I've never done one-on-one...

KING: Why not?

BLAKE: I just -- it ain't my style. I like to act. I love to entertain people. But I get bored talking about myself. And I get bored when other people talk about themselves. That's no knock against anybody. It's just... KING: The way it is.

BLAKE: I did, in jail, you know, that corpse that Barbara Walters interviewed with an ass-full of splinters and a head-full of maggots that was insane, but I thought I was going to die in there. I figured maybe even I wanted to die in there. So I was going to just give Rosie and everybody something to remember me by.

KING: Did you regret doing that interview?

BLAKE: Not at all. I don't regret it, no, no. One of the things I would like to do, and it's long overdue, is I want desperately and deeply to thank all the thousands of people that wrote letters to me when I was in the can, before I went, while I was there, after I left. Wonderful, beautiful people.

Not fans, just human beings that said, "Hang in there, Robert. We're with you. You're going to get out of there." There was a lady in Sayre, Oklahoma, that wrote me every day for 11 months, older woman, talked to me about her hip replacement and her grandchildren, her great-grandchildren, the peppers are coming in. I went through all the seasons with her. She's putting up strawberries, and she's putting up peaches.

When she found out that I wanted to croak, she started writing letters, "Don't you dare quit on me. All the time I put in on you? You get your ass up there and you fight. You're going to get out. You're going to be all right." And I just want to thank all of those people.

I still have all of their mail. And some day -- you know, I was never allowed to write to anybody in the box or afterward, but I wanted to thank them.

KING: Let's get into some things. Last time I saw you, you were in jail. We were separated by -- we had to talk on the phone, I think.


KING: why did they keep you in solitary?

BLAKE: Well, you can call it solitary confinement, you can call it protective isolation, you can call it whatever you want. But it's a cement box...

KING: For what reason?

BLAKE: ... with a steel -- well, there's a lot of reasons. First of all, nobody wanted me to get stuck, or messed up, or anything like that. And they didn't -- they wanted me to be where they could watch me 24 hours a day.

Nobody wanted me there. As a matter of fact, some of them wanted me to croak, but nobody wanted me to croak on their watch. So you know, for the first couple of months that I was in there, every 15 minutes somebody was banging on the door making sure I wasn't dead.

KING: When they made that -- when the jury came in, did you think it's 50-50? Did you think, "I might buy it"?

BLAKE: I was willing to accept God's will. I've had a great life. God has been my shoulder ever since I was conceived in the womb. The only reason I got here was because the coat hanger didn't work.

My folks didn't want me. You know, when I was 2- or 3-years-old, I got in front of an audience and I found a home. But all the beautiful things that have happened in my life have all been God's doing.

KING: So you were ready to accept, if they said "guilty," you would have been cool with that?

BLAKE: I wasn't cool with going to jail. I wasn't cool with a lot of the tough things that have happened in my life. But I accept them as a part of my life. And the beauty and the blessings far outweigh the -- you know, I don't know about your God, but my God definitely has a sense of humor.

Like here's this beautiful thing, Natalie, coming into my life. And in the meantime, I'm down in Orange County for three days doing the weirdest talk show I've ever done in my life, like some crazy Howard Stern nonsense. And it's supposed to be a deposition. And I'm going through all that craziness.

That's another reason, just very briefly, I'm broke. I'm tapped out. I'm living in an apartment. I owe Uncle Sam. I owe the state. But I have tried to tell Bonny's family -- I put a quarter of a million dollars on the table. It's not my money. It's Uncle Sam's money. But I put it up there.

And I don't know if they even found out about it, because Rosie wasn't given any notice, so I don't know if anybody else was given any notice.

KING: So you offered it to them?

BLAKE: Absolutely. Straight up.

KING: What do you mean by Uncle Sam's money?

BLAKE: Because I owe more than I'm worth. I owe $1.5 million, and I'm worth about $1 million. That means that Uncle Sam can come in any time and say the show was over. But Uncle Sam figures I've been working since I was 2-years-old, and I'll keep working, so I'll...

KING: So you offered them money?

BLAKE: I offered them a quarter of a million dollars.

KING: But you said you don't have it? BLAKE: No, I have it. Let's go over this again. I'm worth $1 million. Most of it is in cash, some of it is in real estate. I have a pay schedule with Uncle Sam where I pay him.

KING: I see.

BLAKE: So I offered $250,000 of the money that really belongs to Uncle Sam.

KING: I got you. They turned it down?

BLAKE: And I didn't even get a response. I didn't even get a response.

KING: Why did you offer it...

BLAKE: That's what makes me believe that maybe the family doesn't even know about any of this.

KING: Why did you offer it if you didn't do the crime?

BLAKE: Because would you rather have the lawyers get all the money or would you rather have Bonny's family get all the money? As matters stand now, Bonny's estate, as I understand it, was worth maybe $300,000, something like that.

But it's been four years. There hasn't been any distribution at all. And maybe all the lawyers are getting paid out of the estate. I don't know. All I know is that, when it's over, the lawyers will be rich and everybody else is going to be broke.

KING: Does the offer still stand?

BLAKE: No, it's down to $150,000 now.

KING: We'll be right...

BLAKE: I had to go pay the lawyers.

KING: We'll be right back with Robert Blake. Later, we'll take your phone calls. Don't go away.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you recall instructing or seeing Earl Caldwell point a gun at Bonny during that honeymoon trip at any time?

BLAKE: I never instructed anybody to harm Bonny in any way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. We'll get to that.

BLAKE: No, we got to it right now. I never instructed anybody to harm Bonny in any way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, wasn't it true you hated Bonny at the time of her murder?

BLAKE: That's a lie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm asking you. Did you hate...

BLAKE: I said that's a lie.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you feel she trapped you?

BLAKE: I beg your pardon?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel Bonny trapped you?

BLAKE: Early on when she got pregnant, yes.


KING: That was the talk show in Orange County you described?

BLAKE: You told me you were going to have a clip of the "Little Rascals."


BLAKE: As a matter of fact, that isn't much different.

KING: But that was what you meant by the talk show in Orange County?


KING: The deposition, which you didn't like?

BLAKE: Yes. What can I say? You know, for three or four years now, I have been the media's lab rat. I've been their commode. And I thought that when the trial was over, whatever happened -- you know, I've known the media all my life. And I always enjoyed them. And they always enjoyed me. "The L.A. Times," hell, I used to deliver that paper.

And I thought that it would change. So when all this stuff started, I wouldn't be here if the media would have said anything that I said when I walked out of the deposition several times, trying to get through to the fact that this is madness, let's give the money where it belongs.

But the same thing started happening. They're quoting, you know, everybody. There's a whole litter of lunatics out there, pig-face bags of rat guts that are telling all kinds of lies. And the media's soaking it up. And I'm trying to get to the folks in Tennessee. And so that's...

KING: OK. You said you wanted to say something to the jury.

BLAKE: I just -- yes. First, just to express my deep and most sincere thanks for those people doing their job. I was so sorry that they were criticized or belittled in any way. I apologize to them for that. That was so uncalled for.

They obviously were not in it for glory, or fame, or book deals, or anything else. And for that kind of stuff to come out, my apologies, my deep sincere thanks. Judge Schempp, the Honorable Judge Darlene Schempp said from the bench that usually in a long trial you have jury problems. There are delays. There are conflicts. Sometimes they want to leave. Sometimes they have to be excused.

This jury was on the dime and on the money all the time. Nobody was sleeping. Everybody did their job. And I thank them for renewing my faith in humanity, just like the people that wrote me the letters.

KING: Now, you know you didn't do it. You know that.


KING: But we weren't there. Who do you think did? Somebody killed her.

BLAKE: You really want to go there?

KING: Who do you think?

BLAKE: Who do you think?

KING: How do I know?

BLAKE: How do I know?

KING: Because you know people that she knew. I don't know people that she knew.

BLAKE: I don't know.

KING: I mean, wouldn't it boggle your mind? I would think about it all the time. Who did this?

BLAKE: It's been four years. It's been four years. And I don't have the answers.

KING: Do you think they'll ever catch any of them?

BLAKE: Do you want me to really go into Bonny's past...

KING: No. Do you think they'll ever catch them?

BLAKE: ... so people can accuse me of trashing her?


BLAKE: She had an awkward, interesting, different kind of life. There were a lot of things that she told me. But I don't know.

KING: OK. You think they'll ever catch anyone?

BLAKE: Somebody may rat somebody out in that kind of world. I don't know.

KING: Do you relive the night a lot?

BLAKE: I will always be sorry and deeply saddened for what happened to Bonny. And I will always be deeply grateful to Bonny for Rosie. And I hope I will do well for the rest of my life, for the gift that God and Bonny have given me.

KING: Going to act again?

BLAKE: Boy, I don't know.

KING: Have you gotten any offers?

BLAKE: I get offers. You know, they want me to go on the road. And I think I talked about cowboy, and I've been out a lot. I've been to Nevada, and Arizona, and being around the people.

KING: Just traveling around?

BLAKE: Yes. You know, I spent a night with some people up in Oxnard that were camping out in the field and were going to go to work the next day picking. And we played and sang, and they gave me a truck to sleep in.

And the next morning, I was down at Leo Carrillo Beach where there was about 500 or 600 people camped. And at 7 o'clock in the morning I'm having pancakes and sausage with people.

I'm not good right now at staying put, or making engagements, or appointments, because all I do is hurt people's feelings. I'm here because I had some things I wanted to say. But most of the time, I'm out letting the wind blow in my hair.

KING: What if you saw a great script? What if I saw another "In Cold Blood"?

BLAKE: I don't know. I've been entertaining people since I was 2-years-old. And I figure, as long as I'm on the right side of the dirt, I'll probably keep on doing it. But I'm not Charles Kuralt. I'm not going to go out there wish a lollipop in my hand and start talking to people. It ain't my style.

KING: We'll be right back with more of Robert Blake. Don't go away.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did you want to marry Bonny Bakley?

BLAKE: I didn't say I wanted to marry her. I said we were having a lot of discussions about getting married.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you want to marry Bonny Lee Bakley?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Objection... BLAKE: Eventually, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What did you mean by eventually?

BLAKE: At a given point, it became a solution to all of our problems, especially Rosie's.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it your intention to delay getting medical treatment to the car in case Bonny was alive?

BLAKE: That's offensive, sir. And the answer is no.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I don't intentionally mean to offend. I'm just asking the questions.

BLAKE: It is nonetheless offensive.


KING: You get mad at depositions?

BLAKE: No. I've been deposed a bunch of times, you know. And the network is suing the sponsor, and this one is suing that one, and...


KING: So you're used to it?

BLAKE: Well, yes. It's just answer the questions. But there were very few questions. Mostly it was some kind of, you know, finger-popping, jive-ass flip nonsense...

KING: How did you find -- you went through a few lawyers.


KING: how did you find Gerald Schwartzbach in San Francisco?

BLAKE: Somebody recommended him in the Bay Area. I think it was the forensic lab that we had. And he wasn't interested. But he and his wife were going to Palm Springs anyway. And his wife said, "Well, why don't we stop by and just see him and so forth?"

And the truth of the matter is, we were supposed to have a 20- minute meeting. We were there for four hours. And I'm fairly well- convinced that his wife said, "You're going to take this case."

KING: Really?

BLAKE: And that's kind of how it happened.

KING: Were you unhappy with the other lawyers?

BLAKE: Which ones?

KING: what was the reason to get rid of lawyers?

BLAKE: How do you know I got rid of lawyers?

KING: I only know what I read. Lawyers were on the case...

BLAKE: We're back to the media.

KING: Or maybe they left you?

BLAKE: We're back to the media.

KING: It's either one or the other.

BLAKE: Now, listen here, Mr. King -- King is your name, isn't it?

KING: Yes.

BLAKE: Now, I'm an investigative journalist here. And I understand that you have a young wife and two children. Now, mind you, sir, we have four people that have testified, and we have written statements from them that, when you were in college, you had sex with an elephant.

Now, we're running this story. I'm giving you an opportunity to square matters here, but I'm asking you the question. How many elephants did you screw? And who did you tell about it?

KING: But the question was...

BLAKE: Now, all of a sudden, the whole world knows that Larry King had sex with an elephant.

KING: But the question -- you did have lawyers that left.


KING: So the question only was, did you drop them or did they leave you?

BLAKE: I didn't drop anybody. And you're going to have to put them in the chair to find out what's going on.

KING: You were very happy with Mr. Schwartzbach, one would imagine?

BLAKE: Gerald Schwartzbach is a brilliant lawyer. But to be around him, he is busy, and interesting, and terribly unique. He's kind of like a dog with a dick at each end. And you just can't really tell what the hell's going on with him. But when he gets where he's supposed to be -- you know, it's kind of like an actor. Now, you say, I can't put up with this. This is crazy. But as soon as the box starts rolling, it's all there.

And I don't really know his private life. I know that he's happily married. I met his son and so forth. He has a dog that he's happy with. I nicknamed him "The Badger" because that's exactly what he is, he's just scratching, and jumping, and dancing all the time. But he comes together when he has to. And that's what he's supposed to do.

KING: Did you want to testify?

BLAKE: I would have testified if the stuntmen had not been destroyed. When Gary McLarty's wife came forward, and other people came forward, and told the truth, then there was no need for me anymore to take the stand.

KING: So had they not been strong witnesses for you, you would have had to take the stand?

BLAKE: I probably would have.

KING: Do you come out of this with a lot of bitterness?

BLAKE: I hope I didn't destroy the attorney-client privilege by talking about "The Badger."

KING: No, I don't think so. Are you bitter?

BLAKE: About what?

KING: About people that testified against you, about the prosecution?

BLAKE: I've learned a lot. Larry, let me back up just a little tiny bit. It will be worthwhile for me.

I've lived my life in front of an audience. That's the only place where it ever really counted. If I wanted to march about the war or something like that, I did it. Other than that, that's how I made my living.

I never really had to test a friendship. I was always the guy that you came to if you wanted a job, because I was always the guy who could get a job. Don't ask me why. Maybe just because I was doing it since I was 2-years-old and I had the confidence.

If you need money, you come to me. Spencer Tracy said, "Don't ever loan money. Either give it to him or walk away." So I'll give you some dough. You need a card? You want to work? You want to become a director? We'll put you on "Baretta."

And I never had to test friendships. I never really had to analyze a person, because I had to put my life in their hands. I'm always hitting marks, and saying the jokes, and having a good time. Then I go fishing, and I do what I want.

I was the best husband I could be. I was the best father I could be. I loved Sandra with all my heart. I hope she loved me, too. Because if she didn't, she missed a great ride. It was a wonderful experience...

KING: But the question was...

BLAKE: But in the last few years, I had to really grow up. And I was surprised at who my friends were and who they weren't. I was surprised at some of the people that I hired and what they turned out like. And I really had to live in a world where most people live all the time, doctors, and lawyers, and people that have to deal with people.

I've never had to deal with people. The movie starts, the movie's over, the location's over, and you go home. So what's the difference about the relationships?

KING: OK, let me get a break. We'll pick right up.

We're back with Robert Blake. We're going to include your phone calls, too. He's here live. We're with you. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Robert Blake.

Before we take some calls, did jail change you?

BLAKE: Yes. I can answer one question simply.

KING: For the better?

BLAKE: I know I'll never be what I was, that guy with all the muscles and all the attitude and all the...

KING: Macho.

BLAKE: There are a lot of layers of onion that come off when you're in a box by yourself and you lose all perspective. You have no human contact. You have no physical contact. People put gloves on before they hand you your food.

You have no physical contact and you have no emotional contact because the guard is just doing his job; that's all. And I thought -- I spent most of my life with that "Baretta" image. Although I played a lot of characters: "Electra Glide in Blue," I played cops, I played lawyers, I played everything.

But I always have that thing of: This how I'll keep the bad guys away. What I learned when I was in that box was the truth was that I was afraid of the good guys. I was afraid of anybody (INAUDIBLE) thinking that that was the way of keeping people away. But it kept away a lot of people that loved me that didn't have an agenda. And I'm different now. Like I said, I have pancakes at 7:00 in the morning with people I don't even know. And I play with their kids and we go fishing and things.

KING: Let's take a call from Blairsville, Georgia.


CALLER: Hi, Larry. I hope you're feeling better.

KING: I hope so, too, thanks.

CALLER: My question for Mr. Blake is: Do you have any intentions of finding the true killer of Bonny? And maybe some of your Hollywood friends that had similar situations might be able to help.

BLAKE: I'm not sure I have many Hollywood friends. I know I have an audience, but I'm not sure what this town feels like toward me. And I think we went over with Larry earlier on.

KING: We covered the other part. Middleton, New Jersey.


CALLER: Hi, Larry. I would like to ask Mr. Blake to explain why he needed to park so far in the restaurant the night Bonny was murdered.

KING: That was the question most people asked.

BLAKE: How far do you think I parked?

KING: She's gone now.

BLAKE: She's gone. I parked half a block away on a Friday night. I never parked in parking lots. I never valet. They don't valet there.

It wasn't that far away. It was the closest place I could park.

Are we going to stay on this? Is that where we're going?

How come when you have everybody else on, they talk about their career?

KING: I'm going to ask you about your career. Florence, Alabama.


CALLER: Before I ask a question, I want to say that I grew up watching "Baretta" and I just admire Robert Blake. I always loved him and the bird, too. It was just my daddy and me growing up and I just think he's the most wonderful thing. I'm so glad that the justice system worked for him. BLAKE: Thank you, Darling.

CALLER: And I pray for him. And you can just tell he's good. He's a good-hearted man.

My question was: Does he plan on raising Rosie, or is he going to get his daughter to raise Rosie? Because I think he'd be the most wonderful father.

BLAKE: I'm a better grandfather. I get to have all the gravy but I don't have to get up at 3:00 in the morning. Rosie and I spend a lot of time together. And it's all good time. And that's probably the best contribution that I could make to her life.

KING: It's better for Rosie this way?

BLAKE: Oh, I'm sure it is. I'm 72 years old. You know?

KING: Yeah.

BLAKE: And there's Delie and Greg with young friends and young children. And she's in a nursery school and does all the right things.

And what could be better? What could be better? How could I be more blessed?

KING: Do you hold any anger toward Bonny's family?


KING: No, even though they had anger toward you?

BLAKE: You know, for a long time, I held a lot of anger for the media, but I don't anymore. Because I took it personally. I thought that Jay Leno was out to get me and the media was out to get me. But they're out to get everybody. Anybody above the ground they'll cook and eat. They're still digging at Princess Diana's bones years after she's gone.

So when I look at the television now and I see them eating anybody that they can, I say: Well, that must be the name of the game. And I must have been some place when all of this changed around and became what it is.

KING: So you don't take it personally?

BLAKE: No, no. I did for a long time. But now, like I said, after the trial, I thought the media was going to be the way they were 10 or 15 years ago when they'd see Robert outside a restaurant and we'd jive together for a while and it was enjoyable.

But it's not that way anymore. It's all blood and guts and what kind of filth you can imagine and dig up. Yes, he held a gun down Sandra's throat and demanded the children and all that stuff; you know, like I was doing with you and the elephant. By the way, if I get too weird with things like that, don't hesitate to tap me on the shoulder. This is the longest interview I've ever done in my life.

KING: I've never been with an elephant, just to set the record straight.

We'll be right back. Don't go away.


QUESTION: Did you ride in the ambulance with your wife to the hospital?


QUESTION: Why not?

BLAKE: I didn't even really know she was gone.

QUESTION: Well, I understand that, but she was still alive at that point.

BLAKE: No, I don't mean dead. I said I didn't know the ambulance had left with Bonny.

BLAKE: Where were you?

QUESTION: I was on the curb.

BLAKE: You didn't notice?

BLAKE: Not that specifically, no.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you really be as shocked by all this as you're claiming now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am. He was the only person they were focusing on.

KING: Let me interrupt you a second.

Apparently Mr. Blake, handcuffed, has been put into that sheriff's car, police car there.

Can you see anything from your vantage point?


KING: I'll never forget that day. Bet you don't either. Were you shocked? BLAKE: I just want to say something. First of all, about my dear friend Dale Olson, who -- all those jailhouse phone conversations. Phone conversations with me and Rosie, with me and this one. And dear Dale Olson every night had to take my calls while I was totally insane, totally insane and severely on drugs. They had me drugged. They were going to send me to the nuthouse. I was booked for the loony bin right after Barbara Walters. And I found out about it, because one of the trustees told me about it. And I called Katherine Adams (ph) and got off the hook about it.

But God bless Dale. And I'm so sorry that all of these phone calls are out in the world. I find it offensive and disgusting, but I will definitely live through it. Like I said, my God has a sense of humor. And so while beautiful things happened to me, strange things happened to me.

KING: To Austin, Texas. Hello.

CALLER: Yes. I'm so glad Mr. Blake has let all his resentment go. And I just think he has such a sweet spirit. And after all he's been through, I'm just wondering if you plan to do any kind of prison ministry?

BLAKE: I have a difficult time with that. That's a very honest, fair question. I've spent my life, you know, I don't lead, I don't join, and I don't follow. I take responsibility for everything I say, everything I do, and I'm pretty much that way.

I do have a feeling in my heart that I would like to somehow maybe do a documentary on jails, because prisons -- everybody's done thousands of documentaries on prisons, and jails are completely different, completely different than prisons. And I'd like to maybe take a camera in and let the people know what a jail is like.

KING: People are confused. Jail is when you get less than a year in prison, or are awaiting trial?

BLAKE: No, some people go in and out of jail all their life. They go to prison, they come back to testify in trials.

KING: But it's an interim place.

BLAKE: But there's no social life. Like in prison, you can get a job and you can have this and you can have that, and you can study and you can learn and you can have a television. You can have -- in jail, you get nothing. You get nothing when you're in jail. I did paintings while I was in jail, because some of the inmates slipped stuff under my door to show me how to do it. You paint with candy, with M&Ms, and with Skittles. You paint with mustard, coffee, ketchup, all those kinds of things. And I used to slip paintings under my door and trade them for doughnuts. And if you mesh the doughnut flat enough, it goes under there.

Listen, let me tell you something. I'm not an old con. I've never done time. I went to prison to entertain people. I went to prisons to act. I've never been in jail in my life. There's probably some old cons that could do 100 years in that cement box. But I couldn't. I survived, don't ask me how. I know now that God has been on my shoulder, and it's not wisdom or genius or anything like that. But so I'm not bragging that I'm a tough guy because I managed to make it, because there are people that have done long, hard stretches in isolation and know how to do it.

I went crazy. I was gone four or five hours at a time. I wasn't even present for most of the preliminary hearing. People thought I was there, but I wasn't there.

KING: What was -- you were there...

BLAKE: I was there but I wasn't there. I had my friends lined up on the floor, and I was talking to them. People that I knew in high school and stuff like that. I wasn't there. Just like I was out to lunch when I was in jail.

KING: You told me you're dyslexic, you're dyslexic, right?

BLAKE: I'm severely dyslexic.

KING: You couldn't read scripts?

BLAKE: Never. Never read scripts.

KING: And how would you learn the lines?

BLAKE: I read books that I've read 20 or 30 times. People say, well, how can you be dyslexic and you read Hemingway and Steinbeck? Because I read them when I was 17, I've been reading them ever since. For me, a book is like a movie. If you like it, you just watch it over and over and over and over.

KING: But you don't follow it.

BLAKE: What do you mean?

KING: You can dyslexic, but you can read it?

BLAKE: After I read it eight or 10 times, yeah. If you give me a script to read, I'll read it five or six times and I will begin to understand it.

If you read it to me, I got it edited. I know all the parts. I got it covered. I see it all in my head. If I open my eyes to read the script, it takes me forever to understand it.

KING: Rohnert Park, California. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry.


CALLER: Hi, Mr. Blake. I absolutely adore you. And knowing that you were innocent, what got you through being locked up in jail? BLAKE: I would have to say God. Consciously, I think that it had something to do with a couple of years in the infantry, where you learned to keep your mouth shut and your nose clean. Everybody is "sir," and everybody is right. Don't make any friends, keep your distance. All those kinds of things that I learned. But I think it was probably also a 12-step program of knowing how to let go of each day and how to hang on to each moment?

KING: You're in AA?

BLAKE: I'm in a 12-step program, yeah, for 15 years. I'm surprised that when I got out of the can, I didn't get juiced. But those are all the years that I had in the bank that served me well. I was on a lot of drugs when I got out, though.

KING: Illegal drugs?

BLAKE: No, no, from the jail. They keep you stoned out of your nut. And you got to take the drugs. They come up, they open that door, they put it in your mouth, and you drink water and you swallow.

KING: For what purpose?

BLAKE: For every purpose.

KING: Why...

BLAKE: I was on tranquilizers, I was on sleeping pills. I was on blood pressure pills. I was on anti-inflammatories. I was on yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda. Because nobody wants me to die on their watch. Nobody wants me to commit suicide. So they keep you stoned. And when I got out, I was stoned, I mean, stoned!

KING: We'll be right back with Robert Blake. We'll try to get some honesty out of him after this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We the jury in the above-entitled action find the defendant Robert Blake not guilty of the crime of first- degree murder of Bonny Lee Bakley.




BLAKE: I don't know whether she was seriously hurt or not. I know that I couldn't rouse her.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How did you try?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Had you finished your answer?

BLAKE: I couldn't rouse her. First, I thought she was sleeping. I shook her. I saw the blood on her nose and I went for help.


KING: By the way, the friends who weren't friends afterwards, do you hold bitterness toward them?

BLAKE: I'm not a bitter kind of person. Maybe I missed that day in school. I get angry, I get sad, but you talk about bitter, I don't know. Maybe you've got some producer or some boss here who says, well, maybe if you step on Robert Blake's...


KING: ... because I said to you during the break, I would imagine the worst thing in the world is to be behind bars for something you didn't do. I could not imagine anything worse. Maybe a child dying is worse. That would be the worse thing. So if that happened to me, I'd be bitter.

BLAKE: I wasn't behind bars. I was behind a steel door. Bars are better. You get to deal with people. I was behind a steel door with a little glass in it.

KING: I'd be bitter if I didn't do something and I'm behind a bar, or behind a steel door.

BLAKE: I would say, what's the worst thing in the world? The worst thing in the world is when someone you love is in trouble, and you can't do anything about it. That's the most helpless, awful feeling in the world. Not being in a cage or a box or something like that. You know, like if you had a friend that was in the hospital, you could go and visit him, you're OK. But if somebody had you tied up in the closet and you couldn't do anything about your friend, that's painful. That's painful. Being impotent, being lost, being isolated, and not being able to not make a contribution where you want to.

KING: Victoria, British Columbia, hello.

CALLER: Hello, Larry.


CALLER: Hi, Mr. Blake.


CALLER: It's lovely to talk to you. I've been a fan of yours for over 35 years.

BLAKE: Thanks, darling. What state are you in, New York?

CALLER: No, I'm in Victoria, British Columbia...

KING: British Columbia.

CALLER: ... Canada.

KING: What's the question?

CALLER: The question is for Mr. Blake is, what are your plans now for you after all of this?

KING: Yeah. What are you going to do for you?

BLAKE: I think Barbara Walters asked me -- she said, what would be the one selfish personal thing that you would want in your life? And my answer was, I'd like to have a date for New Year's Eve. I'm a sentimentalist. I'm an old-fashioned kind of guy. And I'd like to feel that magic once before it's all over.

KING: You want to fall in love again?

BLAKE: Yeah. I don't think there's any greater gift on a personal level -- not loving somebody, but actually being in love, where you wake up in the middle of the night just to look at her, where you're not a poet but the poetry just keeps running out of you.

I had it once in my life, and if I had to measure it against "In Cold Blood" or all the other gifts in my life -- certainly my children, magnificent -- but that kind of magic with two people where you can share a hot dog and know that it's the greatest meal in the universe, where you can both sleep together on a couch and freeze to death and you're not cold, where you whisper to each other when there's a crowd around, that's magic.

KING: We'll be back with some more moments with Robert Blake. Don't go away.



BLAKE: What kind of chicken punks are you anyway? Trying to beat up a sweetheart like Willie? I could even forgive you for that. But with all the stealing you've been doing in the neighborhood, I'm going to fry you, do you hear me? I've got you now. I finally got you.


KING: Kamloops, British Columbia. Hello.

CALLER: Hi, Larry. Love your show.

KING: Thank you.

CALLER: I just wanted to ask Mr. Blake, since he has so much to say, how could his lawyers stop him from taking the stand? And would he be willing to take on Nancy Grace?

BLAKE: The lawyers, nobody stopped me from taking the stand. We discussed it earlier. I would have taken the stand if I was told to. Take on who?

KING: Nancy Grace. The lady who does a show on...

BLAKE: I don't have a need to take anybody on. I got nothing to show. I got nothing to prove. You know, I'd like to think that I'm going to have some kind of a life. But my philosophy now is really very simple. Remember back in the '60s and '70s, when people said, well, today is the first day of the rest of your life. You can change your life, you can -- I wake up in the morning and I say, Robert, today is the last day of your life, what do you want to do? And I don't take it any further than that.

So asking me questions about my future, I want to wake up tomorrow morning and say, what do you want to do, Robert? You want to go to the country, you want to go the desert, you want to see Rosie, you want to go fishing, you want to be with people, you want to be by yourself? That may be childish and that may be selfish, but that's where I am.

KING: You haven't mentioned Noah, how is he doing?

BLAKE: Noah is doing great. He supports himself, he teaches, he acts. And his life is good.

KING: You entertained for the USO in your life, didn't you?

BLAKE: When I was a kid with "The Little Rascals" during the war...

KING: "The Little Rascals!"

BLAKE: ... at (ph) the Hollywood Canteen and all that kind of stuff. Buckwheat was my best friend at the time.

KING: Oh, Buckwheat.

BLAKE: And we would go -- this was our gag. We didn't care what happened, but when the Andrews sisters were on, Buckwheat and I went around the back and opened the curtains, because we got to see the Andrews sisters from the back. And when they were shucking and jiving like that, the magic, what can I tell you.

KING: What age did you go on stage?

BLAKE: I was on the street corner when I was two-and-a-half, on the stage when I was two-and-a-half. "Major Bowles" (ph) and all that kind of stuff. Came out here, I was an entertainer. The three little hillbillies.

KING: We only have about a minute and a half left. Too much too soon? Does being a child actor have its down side?

BLAKE: I don't think so. I mean, that's an easy place to put it, but I've seen kids get in trouble of all kinds. I've seen kids from movie stars that turned out good, turned out bad. I've seen child actors that have great lives and have terrible lives. There's a lot of child actors out there right now that are producing and directing and very, very successful.

KING: Ron Howard.

BLAKE: Many, many of them. I don't think there's any down side.

It's what happens in the house. I believe that with all my heart, that if you're loved and cared for, you can go out and pick grapes for 10 hours a day, or you can go act for 10 hours a day. You can go work in a factory for 10 hours a day. If you're with people that love you and you have a good feeling about yourself, then I don't think it really matters. I don't think a kid has to play 10 hours a day. I don't think they have to have money and gifts and all that stuff. I think they have to have love.

KING: So you don't know what you're going to do tomorrow?

BLAKE: Tomorrow?

KING: Yeah.

BLAKE: After this, I can guarantee you, I will be in the desert tomorrow by the time the sun comes up.

KING: Doing?

BLAKE: Whatever I feel like. Probably just watching some lizards, or maybe I'll go into some truck stop at 8:00 in the morning and shoot pool with some guy that's been up all night, just hanging out with the folks like that. Until I settle down.

KING: That's called cowboying.

BLAKE: Yeah.

KING: That's what you meant by I'm going out to do some cowboying.

BLAKE: Yeah. Yeah.

KING: Thank you, Robert.

BLAKE: Thank you, sir.

KING: Robert Blake. "Baretta," "In Cold Blood" -- what a life, ups, down, still kicking. Robert Blake.

Tomorrow night, the Trumps. The other side of life. Donald and his wife. Donald Trump and Mrs. Trump tomorrow night.

Up next, a special edition of "NEWSNIGHT" with Aaron Brown. It's all about investigators at crime scenes. You know, the "CSIs"? You stay tuned. See you tomorrow night with the Trumps.


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