Upon hearing that Robert Blake had been arrested for the murder of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, Keeping Tabs was seized with a mix of anticipation and dread, knowing that Tabloidland would soon be plunged into a Blakeapalooza. The tabs did not disappoint, offering three very different takes on this story, each with a characteristic twist. So without further ado, here’s KT’s handy dandy Blakeapalooza scorecard …
Synopsis: Blake who? True to its usual emphasis on celebrity lifestyle issues over hard news, the Star’s big cover story this week is about Jennifer Aniston’s purported “baby joy!” The Blake story (“Robert Blake’s Other Victim—His Tragic Daughter, 2”) is relegated to a small spot in the upper-right-hand corner, just above a teaser for those “amazing photos” showing how Ozzy Osbourne’s wife Sharon lost 95 pounds. (The Aniston baby joy, by the way, is news that the Friends star is—yet again!—not pregnant but is reportedly kicking her purported pot-smoking habit in a “desperate effort” to have a baby.) Oh and how could we forget the Star’s fascinating cover claim that President Clinton is having a “sexy fling” with supermodel Naomi Campbell?
But we digress. The Star’s Blake coverage consists of a single story (“Dead Wife’s Family Gives up Fight for Tot”) about the custody battle that almost ensued over Blake and Bakley’s 2-year-old daughter. Despite Robert Blake’s emphatic assertions that he would “spend every dime of his $10 million fortune to keep his precious baby girl Rosie” away from her mother’s family, Bakley’s sister Margerry [sic] and her mother Lois, have apparently already conceded that little Rose is better off staying with her half-sister, Delinah [um, sic?], 35. Case closed.
Number of pages of coverage: two.
Number of reporters: one.
Highlight: Margerry says her decision was motivated by her concern for the little girl: “What I couldn’t live with is for my sister’s precious baby being caught in an ugly tug of love.” God, no. Anything but the tug of love.
Low point: A “source close to the actor” is called upon to make the incisive observation that “poor little Rosie isn’t even 2 yet and she could grow up an orphan without her mother and her father. It’s so sad.”
What did Blake say before being arrested? Blake’s thoughts were—natch—of his little girl; he asked his daughter Delinah to “raise little Rosie like she was her own.”
Touching last line: “We want her to know that we loved her enough to give her up,” says Margerry.
Bonus tidbit about WWF star the Rock: This week’s Star reports that once a week, the Rock shaves from head to toe with a Mach 3 razor and Edge gel. An insider explains that his wife, Dany, “loves running her hands over his body and feeling his muscles flexing beneath his freshly shaved skin.” Well, thanks for sharing!
Synopsis: The Globe focuses tightly on Blake’s arrest and incarceration. Its coverage reads like a potboiler; painting a detailed portrait of the suspect’s emotional state and precise activities at every point in the process, from the arrival of the police to his first night in jail. Oh yeah, and he supposedly confessed, too. At various points during the ordeal, the Globe reports that Blake:
- was “teetering hysterically between blind rage—and stark terror.”
- was “pacing to and fro like a trapped animal.”
- looked “defiant” until the police car headed down the freeway, at which point his “cockiness started to subside. His hands began to shake as he kept explaining, ‘You people are making a big mistake—this is gonna cost you plenty when my attorney sues for wrongful arrest.’ ”
- appeared “grim-faced, pale,” and according to an eyewitness, looked like “a man walking to death row.”
- had an “intense grimace. He looked terrified. He was biting his bottom lip and his face was very pale—he looked like a corpse.”
- “looked like any other sniveling felon who realizes he’s in big trouble,” claims a police source. (Your tax dollars at work, ladies and gentlemen!)
Number of pages: three.
Number of reporters: seven.
Highlight: The Globe claims to have the first photos of Blake’s jail cell and manages to nab his actual booking number: 7253166. It has also included a useful “Countdown to Murder” time-line, for your personal reference.
Low point: The tasteful headline of the companion story about the victim: “Who was Bonny Lee Bakley? Bullet to the Head Ends Blake Wife’s Career as Con Artist.”
What did Blake say before being arrested? “You can’t do this to me. I’m Robert Blake, the actor. I’m Baretta. She’s responsible for all this garbage—my wife deserved to die!”
Touching last line: Bonny’s “past is a nightmare for a prosecutor,” says “noted defense lawyer” Barry Tarlow. “Her outrageous lifestyle will become the center of the case.”
Bonus tidbit about WWF star the Rock: This week’s Globe reports that the Rock was unhappy with the appearance of his chest and had liposuction to get rid of excess fat. On the other hand, according to a Globe cover story, a “pal” of Demi Moore’s explains that she “looks fabulous” these days. “The hard body she sculpted with obsessive exercise has turned softer and more sensual.”
The National Enquirer
Synopsis: The Enquirer goes all news magazine-y on us, pulling out all the stops in its comprehensive, multidimensional Blake coverage. Its is the perfect inverse to the Globe’s approach, providing few specifics about the arrest itself but offering instead a richly detailed portrait of the couple’s marriage, the night of the murder, and the mounting legal case against Blake. (Props to the Enquirer for getting the actual felony complaint and quoting copiously from it.) In addition, the Enquirer not only unfurls a “blockbuster new development” in the case—it quotes a Hollywood stuntman named Cole McLarty claiming that Blake tried to hire his father to kill Bakley—but also manages to insinuate itself into the legal proceedings—claiming to have uncovered “secret tapes and letters that will provide key evidence” in Blake’s trial. “The Enquirer played a role in this investigation,” confirms LAPD Capt. Jim Tatreau. “Thank you, Enquirer!”
Number of pages: six.
Number of reporters: eight.
Highlight: It’s highlight city here, but we’re going to go with all those touching details about the Blake-Bakley marriage, including where and when their child was conceived (Sept. 3, 1999, in a Holiday Inn) and what former maid Lidia Benavides had to say about the relationship: “There were no hugs, kisses, hand-holding or other signs of affection.” The Enquirer also has photos of a letter Bakley wrote to her husband in which she pleads for him to buy her an engagement ring of “at least a carat, size 6. You can get it at a pawn shop or one of your flea markets, [punctuation sic] I don’t care as long as its [sic] real and from you.” Wait. Maybe that’s a low point. Tough call.
Low point: For $1 a minute, the Enquirer invites its readers to call an 800 number and listen to “actual conversations” between Blake and Bonny.
What did Blake say before being arrested? The Enquirer never reveals this, but it does tell us that during his first full day in lockup Robert Blake ate “oatmeal for breakfast, cold cuts on a roll for lunch and a hamburger casserole for dinner.” And in case you were wondering, a jail source says Blake’s “hair was not combed and he looked afraid.”
Touching last line: Bakley’s ex-husband Paul Gawron, who is, conveniently, also her first cousin, tells the Globe that she kept asking him which of her two paramours—Robert Blake or Marlon Brando’s son Christian—she should choose. “I told her, ‘Christian has already killed someone. You ought to go with Robert Blake—it seems safer to me,’ ” Gawron explains. “I’ll always feel guilty for giving her that advice.” That Gawron, by the way, is a regular quote machine. Let’s not forget his first foray into Tabloidland here.
Bonus interesting tidbit about WWF star the Rock: The Enquirer wins the Rock trivia contest hands down, with the huge scoop that he met his wife Dany at a bar in Coral Gables, where he had stopped on his way to participate in a “6 girl, 3 man orgy.” And just how did he know that she was the one? “I displayed one of the primary symptoms of love sickness: a complete disinterest in cheap, sleazy sex.” Thank you, Enquirer, indeed!