Bonny Lee Bakley was married to actor Robert Blake
when she was shot to death in a car outside a Studio City restaurant on May 4, 2001. Blake was nearby, having returned briefly to the restaurant where they had just dined; he denied involvement in her death. (Blake was carrying a gun but the murder weapon, another handgun, was found in a dumpster nearby.) Investigation by police and journalists revealed complicated and peculiar details. Blake reportedly first met Bakley at a local nightclub and they began a casual romantic relationship; they married in 2000 only after paternity tests confirmed that Blake was the father of her infant daughter Rose. (Bakley also had been carrying on an affair with Christian Brando, son of actor Marlon Brando
). Bakley was said to have had a starstruck history of pursuing actors and other famous people; she also had a record of arrests for small-time crimes, and apparently made money by wheedling money by mail from men she met through lonelyhearts newspaper ads. Los Angeles police investigated for nearly a year before arresting Robert Blake on April 18, 2002; they charged Blake with murder, saying they believed the actor had pulled the trigger himself. After many delays, Blake's trial began late in 2004, and the jury acquitted Blake of the murder charge on March 16, 2005. Later that year Bakley's children brought a civil suit against Blake and won a $30 million judgment, with Blake being ruled responsible for Bakley's death. That number was cut to $15 million on appeal, and Blake filed for bankruptcy in 2006. Blake never acted again and died in 2023.