Robert Blake, the brilliant veteran actor who wasn’t convicted of plotting to kill his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, on 5.4.01, but whom many believe was guilty of complicity in the crime, died earlier today from heart disease in Los Angeles. He was 89 years old.

A belief in some quarters that Bakley was a fairly bad egg obviously doesn’t excuse or justify her unfortunate demise. Even the worst of us are entitled to live another day and maybe make things right. But prosecutors had no forensic evidence implicating Blake in the murder, and could not tie him to the murder weapon. Blake was found guilty, however, in a civil trial.

I somehow missed the fact that Quentin Tarantino‘s novel of “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, based on his film of the same name, is dedicated to Blake. Brad Pitt‘s Cliff Booth character is also accused of offing his wife.

A personal recollection posted on 3.17.05: “I used to tool around on a white Vespa scooter when I first came to Los Angeles in the early summer of ’83. One day in the late fall of ’83 it was stolen. I reported the loss to the cops right away, and a few hours later an officer called to say it had been found in Studio City. I was told where to go to pick it up (i.e., a location on the concrete L.A. river bed near Magnolia,

“I forget how I got there without wheels but somehow I did, and as I approached the location I saw two uniformed cops approaching from a couple of hundred yards away with a much shorter civilian walking between them. Closer, closer…who’s the pint-sized guy in the middle? It was Blake — he was the one who had spotted the abandoned scooter and made the call. I was introduced and thanked him profusely. Ever since I’ve felt a certain affection, a certain debt.”