Bonny Lee Bakley: A Comprehensive Analysis of Her Life and Tragic End

Photo of author

By David

Real Name:Bonnie Lee Bakley
Birthday:June 7, 1956 - May 4, 2001
Net WorthN/A
Occupation:Second Wife of Robert Blake

Bonny Lee Bakley was a controversial figure who gained notoriety primarily due to her tumultuous marriage to actor Robert Blake. Born on June 7, 1956, Bakley was known for her numerous romantic relationships and marriages, with Blake being her tenth husband. Her life took a tragic turn on May 4, 2001, when she was fatally shot while sitting in Blake’s parked car outside a Los Angeles restaurant.

The murder of Bonny Lee Bakley became a high-profile case, as her husband, Robert Blake, known for his role in the popular television series “Baretta,” was charged with her murder in 2002. Despite the accusations and subsequent trial, Blake was eventually acquitted of the charges in 2005. However, he was later found liable for her death in a civil case. To this day, the case remains unsolved and continues to be a subject of media attention and public fascination.

Throughout her life, Bakley was often described as a con artist who targeted wealthy individuals, using sex and deception to manipulate them for financial gain. The details of her personal life and relationships became more widely known following her death, contributing to the mystery and intrigue surrounding her murder.

Early Life and Background


Bonny Lee Bakley was born on June 7, 1956, in Morristown, New Jersey. She was the daughter of arborist Edward J. Bakley and entrepreneur Marjorie Lois Bakley. Bonny grew up alongside her siblings, Margerry Lisa Bakley and Joe Bakley. From a young age, Bonny dreamt of becoming rich and famous, possibly influenced by her family’s impoverished background.

Marriage History

Throughout her life, Bonny Lee Bakley was married several times. Some notable marriages include her relationships with Jerry Lee Lewis and Dean Martin impersonators. Her marriage history can be summarized as follows:

  • Marriage 1: Jerry Lee Lewis impersonator
  • Marriage 2: Dean Martin impersonator
  • Subsequent Marriages: Various relationships

Bonny Lee Bakley’s early life and background paint a picture of a young girl who aspired to fame and fortune, with a complex and tumultuous marriage history.

Career and Notoriety

Con Artist Activities

Bonny Lee Bakley was known for her fraudulent activities as a con artist. She used sex and deception to swindle men, often targeting wealthy and famous individuals. Her schemes included a mail-order business, where she would manipulate vulnerable men into sending her money, and gifts, and even making her a beneficiary of their estates.

Throughout her life, Bakley amassed a significant number of aliases, which allowed her to carry out her scams more seamlessly. She often relied on credit card fraud as well, holding accounts under different names. To maintain her fraudulent lifestyle, Bakley frequently became involved in show business circles, ingratiating herself with successful actors and industry professionals.

Connections with Celebrities

With her eye for opportunity, Bakley managed to forge romantic connections with several celebrities. Acting as a background player in various television productions allowed her to build these connections while simultaneously fueling her notorious reputation. Notably, she pursued romantic relationships with well-known TV show actors and musicians.

One of these connections eventually led to Bakley’s involvement with Emmy-winning actor Robert Blake, who later became her tenth husband. The controversial relationship between Bakley and Blake ultimately ended in tragedy when Bakley was murdered in Blake’s parked car in May 2001.

Relationship with Robert Blake

Marriage to the Baretta Star

Bonny Lee Bakley married actor Robert Blake, best known for his role in the popular TV series Baretta, in 2000. This was Bakley’s tenth marriage and Blake’s second. Their relationship began after they met in a jazz club in 1999. Later on, they faced a turbulent period in their relationship due to a paternity issue involving their daughter, Rose Lenore Sophia Blake. When the paternity test confirmed that Robert Blake was indeed the biological father, they decided to get married.

Complications with Christian Brando

Prior to marrying Blake, Bakley had a relationship with Christian Brando, the son of legendary Hollywood actor Marlon Brando. Bakley reportedly began a relationship with Christian Brando while he was in jail for the killing of his sister’s boyfriend. When Bakley became pregnant, there was initially speculation about the paternity of the child. After the test confirmed that Brando was not the father, this effectively ended their involvement.

Though brief, Bakley’s relationships with both Robert Blake and Christian Brando exposed her to the world of Hollywood and the associated complexities. Her relationship with Blake ultimately led to marriage, while her involvement with Christian Brando was marred by paternity complications. The union of Bakley and Blake proved to be short-lived, as her tragic murder took place in 2001, leaving behind their young daughter, Rose.

Murder and Aftermath

The Shooting Incident

On May 4, 2001, Bonny Lee Bakley was tragically shot and killed while sitting in her husband Robert Blake’s parked car in Studio City, Los Angeles. She sustained two fatal gunshot wounds during the attack. Robert Blake, an actor, had reportedly left her briefly to retrieve his gun from the restaurant they had eaten at, as he had forgotten it there earlier.

Investigation by LAPD

The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) launched an investigation into the shooting death of Bakley. Detectives focused on uncovering the motive behind the murder, interviewing close friends and family members to uncover any potential leads. As part of the investigation, LAPD carefully examined the car where the shooting occurred, along with the area surrounding the crime scene.

A dumpster near the crime scene was found to contain a gun and gunshot residue, believed to be linked to the murder. This evidence, in conjunction with the circumstances surrounding the shooting, led to the suspicion of Blake’s involvement. During the investigation, it was discovered that Blake had provided contradictory statements, and there was mention of possible hired hitmen.

Enigmatic 911 Call

In a puzzling turn of events, a mysterious 911 call was made to report the incident. The call, which was brief and uninformative, was believed to be connected with the shooting of Bonny Lee Bakley. The caller’s identity and connection to the crime, however, remains enigmatic.

Though the case has remained officially unsolved for decades, many people still speculate on Bonny Lee Bakley’s tragic and untimely death in Los Angeles on that fateful evening. Despite the various pieces of evidence and the efforts of the LAPD, the truth about her murder continues to elude the public.

Legal Proceedings

Criminal Trial

In the criminal trial, actor Robert Blake was accused of murdering his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. The prosecution presented evidence, arguing that Blake had a motive to kill Bakley due to her deceitful actions and controversial background. However, the defense attorney, M. Gerald Schwartzbach, effectively challenged the credibility of the presented evidence and witnesses. Ultimately, the jury found Blake not guilty and he was acquitted of the murder charges.

Civil Litigation

Despite being acquitted in the criminal trial, Blake faced a civil lawsuit filed by Bakley’s family. In this civil case, the court had to determine if Blake was liable for his wife’s death. The jury found him liable and awarded Bakley’s family $30 million in damages. However, as the trial did not meet the same burden of proof required in a criminal court, questions surrounding Blake’s innocence continued to persist.

Aspect Criminal Trial Civil Litigation
Verdict Not Guilty (Acquitted) Liable
Jury Award N/A $30 Million
Burden of Proof Beyond a reasonable doubt Preponderance of the evidence

Controversies and Discussions

Throughout the legal proceedings, a number of controversies arose, leading to public discussions about the case. For instance, the criminal trial’s focus on Bakley’s background and alleged fraudulent activities shifted attention away from the case itself. Additionally, some critics argue that the civil trial was marred by juror irregularities, an unfavorable ruling by the judge, and the attorneys’ unfamiliarity with the case.

Another point of discussion was the murder weapon. While Blake was acquitted due to the lack of convincing evidence linking him to the weapon in the criminal trial, the civil case did not have the same strict requirements surrounding evidence.

As a result, the legal proceedings related to Bonny Lee Bakley’s murder case continue to spark debates over the trials’ fairness and integrity, as well as questions regarding Blake’s culpability.

Media Coverage and Public Reaction

Role of Television and Film

Bonny Lee Bakley’s murder gained significant attention from both television and film industries due to its connection to the Hollywood actor, Robert Blake. Her story became the subject of numerous true crime shows and documentaries, reflecting the public’s infatuation with the high-profile case. In addition, the incident revisited the past fame of Robert Blake, who had starred in the classic film “In Cold Blood” as an actor.

Coverage by News Outlets

The case was extensively covered by various prominent news outlets such as CNN and ABC News, which further contributed to the massive coverage and public reaction. Throughout the investigation and trial, these media channels provided the latest updates alongside expert analysis and opinions.

  • Key moments from the case covered by news outlets included:
    1. The night of the murder on May 4, 2001
    2. The arrest of Robert Blake in April 2002
    3. The acquittal of Blake in the criminal trial in 2005
    4. The civil trial resulting in a $30 million judgment against Blake, which was later reduced

The widespread coverage by news outlets and extensive analysis of the case generated polarizing opinions among the public, with some believing that Blake was innocent, while others were convinced of his guilt. As a result, the Bonny Lee Bakley murder case remains a topic of great interest and speculation, even many years after the incident.

Bonny Lee Bakley’s Legacy

Impact on Society and Law

Bonny Lee Bakley’s murder case became a high-profile Hollywood scandal that captured public attention. It raised concerns about celebrity culture and the influence of fame in the legal system. Bakley was fatally shot on May 4, 2001, as she sat in her husband Robert Blake’s parked car outside a Los Angeles jazz club. One of the immediate effects of her death on society was increased discussion around the dangers faced by certain individuals in their relationships with celebrities.

Although her murder remains unsolved, the trial of her husband added to the evolving discourse about celebrities and the legal system. Some argued that Blake, a well-known actor, faced unjust scrutiny due to his fame, while others suggested that his public image may have influenced the outcome of the trial.

Born on June 7, 1956, Bonny Lee Bakley lived a life that was as complicated as her death. She had a total of four children – Holly, Glenn, Jeri Lee, and Rose Lenore – from various relationships, including her marriage to Robert Blake. Rose Lenore, born in 2000, experienced the loss of her mother at a young age and has since shared how she coped with Bakley’s murder, offering insight into the family’s challenges in the wake of such a tragic event.

Cultural References

Bonny Lee Bakley’s murder case has inspired various cultural references, including documentaries, books, and television episodes. Her story has been featured in episodes of true-crime series such as Dominick Dunne’s Power, Privilege, and Justice and 20/20. Additionally, the case has been documented in several books, including Blood Cold: Fame, Sex, and Murder in Hollywood by Dennis McDougal and Mary Murphy.

As a result of the intense interest in Bakley’s case and the involvement of a celebrity suspect, her story continues to be a topic of discussion in the broader context of Hollywood scandal and the legal ramifications of celebrity culture.