LOS ANGELES – Former actor Robert Blake told reporters outside Los Angeles Superior Court yesterday that Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward is concealing information that could clear Blake’s name.
Blake, 72, made the charge just minutes after a jury had determined by a ten-to-two vote that he was liable in a wrongful death lawsuit brought by the estate of his slain wife, Bonnie Lee Bakely. The jury ordered Blake to pay her four children $30 million in damages.
“That’s a lot of fusilli,” said Blake, “but I’m putting it on Bob Woodward’s tab if he don’t step up and spill the antipasto—and that’s the name of that dish.”
Blake has always maintained he is innocent of any wrongdoing in Bakely’s death. The couple had been married six months and had a nine-month-old daughter when Bakely, who was then forty-five, was shot in the head on May 4, 2001. At the time she was sitting in the former Baretta star’s Dodge Stealth down the street from Vitello’s Italian restaurant, where they had just eaten.
“I couldn’t have whacked her,” Blake reiterated yesterday. “When she was shot in the noodle, I was back in the restaurant looking for my gun.”
After Blake had been acquitted earlier this year by a Van Nuys jury of criminal charges in Bakely’s death, he dismissed the civil suit as “a load of reheated, leftover pasta.” Now he is claiming that Woodward “knows where the salami is hidden in this deal.”
Mickey Rooney, 84, one of the few former actors of Blake’s stature left in Hollywood, told reporters that Blake was so distraught over his wife’s killing he began peppering his speech with food allusions.
“He refers to her as ‘my braccioli’ or ‘that little scungilli’ all the time,” said Rooney. “If that doesn’t prove he’s innocent, I don’t know what does.”
An attorney for Bakely’s estate contradicted Rooney’s claim.
“Blake’s been talking like a Food Network geek ever since Vitello’s named a pasta dish after him in 1999,” said Herman Goldmeyer.
The dish, fusilli e minestra alla Robert Blake, is an artful blending of homemade corkscrew pasta tossed lightly in freshly chopped garlic, unfiltered extra virgin olive oil, tender baby spinach, and hand-picked Roma tomatoes.
Although Blake stopped short of saying how he knew Woodward was aware “who had cooked up” Bakely’s murder, he hinted that Woodward might have gotten the information from a former White House chef.
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