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PIERS MORGAN TONIGHT
Interview with Robert Blake
Aired July 15, 2012 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PIERS MORGAN, HOST: Tonight, exclusive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROBERT BLAKE, ACTOR: I've never allowed anybody to ask me the questions that you're asking.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: From child star to Hollywood legend to a man on trial for his life. Robert Blake tells me his story as he's never told it before. Explosive.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLAKE: I'll get to you (EXPLETIVE DELETED) later but don't think you're going to get off the hook. I was supposed to die in that cell, wasn't I, you (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLAKE: Does that mean I'm lying to you?
MORGAN: I don't know. Are you?
BLAKE: What do you think?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: This is Robert Blake as you've never seen him before anywhere.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Do you think that you're sane?
BLAKE: I'm what?
MORGAN: Do you think you're sane? Do you feel you have your full sanity? Or has what's happened to you sent you slightly mad? What do you think?
BLAKE: Well, I'll tell you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: Tonight, Robert Blake. The PIERS MORGAN interview starts now.
Good evening. I've been interviewing celebrities and public figures for more than 25 years, more than 2,000 people including presidents, prime ministers, movie, TV and pop stars, but I have never had an encounter as explosive, confrontational or as extraordinary as the one you're about to witness.
Robert Blake is a Hollywood legend, who shot to fame as the star of the "Our Gang" series, he went on to a chilling role as a murderer in the 1967 film "In Cold Blood." And he won an Emmy for the classic '70s TV series, "Barretta."
Everything changed in 1999 when he met Bonnie Lee Bakley, the woman who became the mother of his child. In 2000 he married her. It's his second marriage and it's her 10th. Less than six months later she was dead, killed by a gunshot to the head while she was sitting in a car outside a restaurant where she and Blake had had dinner. He was charged with his wife's murder, acquitted after a sensual court case.
Then Bonnie Lee Bakley's children filed a civil suit against Blake alleging he was responsible for their mother's death. He was found liable, ordered to pay $30 million and declared himself bankrupt.
Since then Robert Blake has kept a pretty low profile. He hasn't given a television interview for nearly a decade. He has written a book called "Tales of a Rascal: What I Did for Love." Tonight he breaks his silence. And you haven't seen an interview quite like this.
Robert Blake is a man on the edge, a man full of pent-up fury on what he says has wrongfully happened to him.
MORGAN: Robert, how are you?
BLAKE: Well, I'm not nearly as interesting as you just described. But I'll take it and run like -- holy Toledo. Do I look like that?
MORGAN: You do.
BLAKE: You ought to take that raggedy (EXPLETIVE DELETED) old thing out in the yard and bury it. I look like that? No, I look like that. God dam it. OK, yes, sir, I'm sorry. I'm here.
MORGAN: When was the last time you gave an interview?
BLAKE: How am I? Well, how -- an interview? Well, a couple of weeks ago at a motorcycle joint a chick came up to me with a very interesting accent and she interviewed me for quite a while. But --
MORGAN: On major television. BLAKE: -- (EXPLETIVE DELETED) program and I wasn't available yet. But last time I was interviewed, I guess right here, the guy with the --
MORGAN: Larry, yes.
BLAKE: Yes. When I was acquitted. I went to -- I promised Barbara Walters who saved my life and won't talk to me now, but that's another story. I promised her that if I was acquitted or I went to jail or committed suicide, she would get the first interview, so I flew to New York and I talked to her for 10 minutes and I came back. And I've been roaming around the country and doing -- what the hell have I been doing?
MORGAN: I don't know. I'm --
BLAKE: How are you, Robert? How am I? Well, I'm lonely. The way I always am. I was born lonely, I live lonely, and I'll die lonely. But the audience has always given me a life ever since I was 2 years old. I danced for them on the streets and they threw money and I said I'm home. And it's nice to be back.
MORGAN: What do you -- what do you think your public reputation is now?
BLAKE: My public reputation? I've been traveling around the country for a long time because I was kind of -- after the trial, I was a nervous breakdown. And if anybody in my life -- I didn't have anybody in my life, but if anybody loved me, they would have taken me to Hawaii and laid me down in the sand. But there wasn't anybody, so I just got in the car and drove around, living on Twinkies and whoever's bread and grew a beard and walked into a poolroom and shoot some 9- ball and stuff like that. But the fans have never, ever, ever left me.
MORGAN: You keep --
MORGAN: Communicate with them through Facebook and stuff, right?
BLAKE: I had a Facebook. I don't know what the hell a Facebook is. I don't even type. But a friend of mine said you need a Facebook. I thought they were going to cut my face or something. But they said, OK, now here it is. You just talk to the people. And it was very nice. The people said well, tell us about Alfalfa. What was he really like? I said OK, I can do that. And that was two or three pages. Somebody else was typing. Not me. And that went on for a while. But then pretty soon, weird things started to happen. They started saying, well, that isn't really the way Elizabeth Taylor was.
I'm saying I went to school with Elizabeth Taylor. I sat next to her when I was 5 years old. We were boyfriends and girlfriends. No, that isn't Elizabeth Taylor and you really don't know. And I said, you know what, this is (EXPLETIVE DELETED), goodbye. But what was weird was I couldn't stop talking about myself to myself. And I started saying goddamn, this is an amazing life. Did I really live this thing?
MORGAN: How much of it -- I mean you've ridden this extraordinary book. There's no other word for it. It is an extraordinary read. It is in parts compelling, in parts rambling, I'll be honest with you. In parts scary, sad, funny. It's everything. I've never read a book quite like it.
MORGAN: I've probably never seen a life quite like it.
BLAKE: That's what it said on the back of the book. It said, this is an amazing book but don't publish it.
MORGAN: It's a story, unless I'm wrong, in your eyes of constantly being betrayed and let down. That's the theme that runs through from when you're first born and your parents want to abort you and end up they can't afford to. From then on, it just seems like your life has been --
BLAKE: If Frank Sinatra's mother would have worked for nothing, I wouldn't have been here. But she wanted 15 bucks and he didn't have it.
MORGAN: Well, because she was the woman that was doing these at the time, right?
BLAKE: I -- OK, I'll get serious for just a minute. I know it is show business and I'm supposed to keep it funny but --
MORGAN: No, I'd rather keep it serious.
BLAKE: When I did all that Facebook stuff and then I went into the closet and I found two boxes of pictures that I didn't know exist. They were full of rat (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and I pulled all these pictures out and I said that's all me. And I said, what do I do with this? Somebody said write a book. And I couldn't write a book. Because I'm not going to write six books.
I'm only going to write one book. How do I put 75 years in one book? Well, you do it the way you just saw. There's four or five little chapters about the "Rascals," there's chapters about those rotten (EXPLETIVE DELETED) cops that ripped my guts out and left me beside the road to die.
I'll get to you son of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) later, but don't think you're going to get off the hook. I was supposed to die in that cell wasn't I, you (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Well, I didn't die. And you didn't get your book deals, you mothers. I wrote a book about you. So you'll have to go out and rip some other celebrity until he's dead then you can write a book about him.
I'm sorry, I'm back. That's how -- so the book became all of my life. There's 20 years of a crazy (EXPLETIVE DELETED) marriage. There's alcohol, there's drugs, there's the best of times. The best of times when I was 8 years old my life was exquisite. I went to MGM when I was 5. I was an extra and I'm watching. And I said, wait a minute, if you talk, they pay attention to you. I don't care about the money, they pay attention to you. And I found love, just the way I found love on the sidewalk when I passed --
MORGAN: Do you think you're sane?
BLAKE: I'm what?
MORGAN: Do you think you're sane? Do you think you have your full sanity? Or has what's happened to you sent you slightly mad? What do you think?
BLAKE: Well, I'll tell you. I think I was born -- the truth is I think I'm sort of a mutation, or a sub-species. I think if I was born 10,000 years ago, I would have taken two or three people gun off and started another tribe.
MORGAN: How much do you blame your parents?
BLAKE: I don't blame anybody. I -- that book is about God. God kept me alive in a womb when my mother tried to abort me with coat hangers twice. God kept me alive for the first two years of my life when nobody gave (EXPLETIVE DELETED) whether I lived or died. God showed me where that sidewalk was when I started dancing. When I got out here I was 5 years old, I stood in front of MGM and I said I can do this. And I walked in there, three years later, I starred in my first film.
MORGAN: I am curious, because it's in the book and it's a powerful testimony in your life, I think. The relationship you had with your parents. Because from what I've read about that relationship, they didn't care for you, they didn't love you. You had --
BLAKE: I was a pain in the ass to them.
BLAKE: They had two children. Then they had two abortions. Then she got pregnant again, but she really got pregnant with my uncle across the street, because that's who she was always in love with. So now she's pregnant with me. He says to her, go to hell, and he runs off. Now she hates me. My father hates me because in his heart he knows that I'm his brother's kid. They tried to get rid of me. And they couldn't.
MORGAN: Did they ever tell you that they loved you, your parents?
BLAKE: Never. They didn't even talk to me. I was like a, you know, they paid more attention to a dog than they paid to me.
MORGAN: But although you don't necessarily blame them because of your belief in God, how much do you think did it damage your character, damage your personality, make you a damaged person?
BLAKE: Oh, I think that if I came from a different family, I would have been a very different person. I have lived my life in front of people. From the time I was 2 years old, I was in front of people, never with them. And I've always been kind of alone that way. But as long as there was a camera within 10 feet of me that I could get in front of, or if I can get in front of an audience, I feel comfortable. I feel at home. But I've never been a successful person in terms of relationships. You know, I -- I'll give you one line --
MORGAN: Are you capable of love?
BLAKE: Absolutely. I love my life. I love God. I can't tell you, my -- love spills out of my ears at night when I'm lying alone. The gratitude that I have for my life. How could you not love a God that kept you alive in a cement box for a year? How could you not love a God that kept you in the womb when you were supposed to be dead out of the womb?
MORGAN: Let's -- let's take a short break, Robert. I want to come back and talk to you about the events of 2001, because clearly your life was very, very different after that.
BLAKE: Take that to the bank, brother.
MORGAN: Back now with more of my exclusive interview with Robert Blake. The high point of his movie career was without a doubt 1957's "In Cold Blood." He's absolutely chilling as the murderer Perry Smith. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BLAKE: He started yelling. What a greedy selfish bastard I was. Yelling and yelling until I grabbed his throat. I couldn't stop myself. He (INAUDIBLE) lose, got a gun, he said, look at me, boy, take a good look, because I'm the last living thing you're ever going to see. And he pulled the trigger. But the gun wasn't loaded.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLAKE: Could I just say one word about this?
BLAKE: Before -- I came to the set and boy, I was so raw and I was so ready to play that scene. We started the scene and the tears are flowing and I'm rolling, and I'm Spencer Tracy, I'm John Garfield, I'm everybody on the planet. And the boss says, cut. He said, clear the set. Everybody get out of here. And he came up to me and he said, Robert, the rain is crying for you. I said, what the hell are you talking about, boss? He said you just say the words.
Now I've got enough emotion in me to start World War III. He says, here, take a cup of coffee. He calmed me down and he said, all I want you to do is say the words. And I did it. And it became one of the most memorable scenes. Everybody talks about that scene and how brilliant it was.
And you know what? Let me just say this. Without blowing smoke up your (EXPLETIVE DELETED), I mean this with all of my heart. I'm deeply grateful that I'm here with you because in the past I could do any talk show I wanted in the world. But Barbara Walters said, you know, I love you, Robert, but you can't be on "The View." Why? Because we sell toothpaste and if we get a letter from some PTA lady who says what are you doing with that accused murderer on your show? So all of that was denied me.
And I said well, the hell with them. I can't retire. I can't do it. I've got to show the cops and all those son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) that thought I was dead that I can get on the bull and ride him again. My goal in life is to make one more beautiful film, not write books and not do talk shows and not go out and sign autographs, like all older actors and that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) are doing. There's nothing wrong with it. That would be fine. I could go on the road and spend my -- the rest of my life with the people.
But then the cops would have won. The (EXPLETIVE DELETED) that killed me would see that I was still in my grave. But if I get in the middle of that arena and ride that bull and do the best movie I ever did in my life, man, Harvey Weinstein is out there some place and Kevin Costner and whoever they are, and I'll find one of them and I'll go out the way I want to go out. And that's not living some kind of half-assed (EXPLETIVE DELETED) life that old actors live. That's the name of that tune.
Where were we?
MORGAN: Well, I was going to bring you to the events of 2001 --
MORGAN: The events that obviously dramatically changed your life. Before the night that your wife died, tell me about your relationship with Bonnie Lee leading up to that night.
BLAKE: It's funny, when push comes to shove, whether I'm in a motorcycle's joint or a barbershop or wherever, sooner or later -- and take this with love, not sharpness. Everybody wants to put me on the stand, because I didn't take the stand. So, OK, I promised to tell the truth, the whole truth, nothing but the -- my real name is Michael James Gubitosi. I was born in 1933 in Nutley, New Jersey.
Now what would you like to hear? MORGAN: What your relationship was like with her before she died.
BLAKE: My relationship with her was not bad. I felt sorry for her sometimes because God never gave her that little piece of sunshine that he gave me. All the times I could have been dead and should have been dead and would have been dead. But God always said, no, here's the sidewalk, little boy. Go out there and dance and they'll throw money.
She wanted to be, I don't know, a movie star. She was a talented woman. She was a lot of things. And we got married. Everybody said, well, why did you get married? Why not? I have the gift of --
MORGAN: Did you know --
BLAKE: I had the most beautiful gift that anybody could ever have. I had a newborn child in my hands.
MORGAN: Did you love her, though?
BLAKE: No. I didn't know her well enough to know her. I love her -- well, I love you as a human being. You're my brother in arms. We're all in this thing together. But we were not dramatically in love or things like that.
MORGAN: Once you got married and stuff about her past begun to materialize, the stuff about being a scam artist, about --
BLAKE: I knew that before we got married.
MORGAN: Did you know everything about her?
BLAKE: Nobody ever knows -- everything and I -- particularly a person like Bonnie. Nobody will ever know everything about Bonnie --
MORGAN: If you're being honest, though, Robert, was she -- was she duplicitous? Was she a liar? Was she a con artist?
BLAKE: I think she was a con artist, yes. I think she came to Hollywood to con her way into show business. I mean I -- she tried to hustle Christian Brando. She actually named my baby Christian Brando. And I changed the name. But when we found out that -- that I was the father and what better thing could I do for myself or my baby than marry her mother? What's the down side? What's the worst that could happen?
After three or four years, it didn't work out and then we got divorced. But I would have my baby all the time with me, rather than having to fly to wherever she chose to live and go through lawyers and all that (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about I want to see my baby, yada, yada. What did I need that for? I'm an old man. I'm filthy rich. I've got $25 million. I'm not talking abstract.
I mean I had $25 million that I could get my hands on in one day. I didn't have margin stock, I owned the stock. I own half of Santa Monica. Hard dollars. I'm broke now. I couldn't buy a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) for a field mouse. I'm broke as -- well, I'm -- I couldn't buy a hole in a nickel donut. But I was filthy rich. You say, well, Robert, where did all the money go?
Well, check with all those rats that jumped ship when the going got tough -- my family, my friends, my business agents, my managers, all those sons of (EXPLETIVE DELETED) that came to jail and told me to sign this and sign that and sign this and -- well, why didn't you go after them, Robert?
Well, because I wanted to get out of the middle of the whole world. Remember, I got arrested before 9/11. So the media was always looking for something to tear up and rip up and eat. And so I wanted to get away from all that.
MORGAN: We asked ABC for a response to what Robert Blake had to say about Barbara Walters and "The View." They had no comment. And for the record, we have no preconditions for his interview with me.
When we come back, things get really heated when I asked Robert Blake about the murder of his wife.
MORGAN: Back now to my exclusive interview with Robert Blake. As you've seen, he's raw, riveting and absolutely unpredictable especially when I asked him about his wife. Blake was tried and acquitted of her murder. And as you'll see, he gets very angry and defensive when I bring it up.
MORGAN: Let me just rewind a little bit.
MORGAN: Do you believe that --
BLAKE: Am I still on the stand? No, I'm teasing. Go ahead.
MORGAN: I understand. I want to get to the truth, if I can.
BLAKE: Tell the truth if you can. Be careful.
MORGAN: Was Bonnie --
BLAKE: I want you to be careful because sometimes that guy in the ear tends to insult me a little bit. You want to get to the truth if you can. Does that mean I'm lying to you?
MORGAN: I don't know. Are you?
BLAKE: What did you think? MORGAN: I don't know. I mean I think we're going to get to some questions where --
BLAKE: Well, tell me where I'm lying, because if you don't know I'm telling you the truth, then you must have a little scratch in the back of your head about where I'm lying.
BLAKE: Tell me where I'm lying.
MORGAN: I'm not saying you're lying.
BLAKE: But you're saying you don't know if I'm telling the truth. What the hell is the difference?
MORGAN: I'm saying I've met you for, what, 20 minutes?
BLAKE: I don't care about that. You put me on the stand. I'm telling the truth --
MORGAN: I don't put you on the stand.
BLAKE: -- and you say you're scratching the head.
MORGAN: Why are you being so defensive?
BLAKE: Because you just insulted me.
MORGAN: I didn't insult you.
BLAKE: Yes, you did. Nobody tells me I'm a liar.
MORGAN: I didn't call you a liar.
BLAKE: You said I might not be telling the truth. What the hell is the difference?
MORGAN: I said I'm going to ask you --
BLAKE: You know, I don't want to take this any place special. All I want -- OK, let me say it this way. My skin is a little bit thin.
BLAKE: Which is why I stay away from people mostly. I've never allowed anybody to ask me the questions that you're asking. I allowed you to do that because I trust you. And I would have assumed that you and that guy in your ear would trust me. And if you don't, then we'd better start talking about "The Little Rascals."
MORGAN: No, I'm asking you questions about very --
BLAKE: Did you hear what I said?
MORGAN: -- well documented -- I heard what you said. BLAKE: I allowed you in because I trusted you. And that's a very big step.
MORGAN: But you don't know me.
BLAKE: We're supposed to be talking about what's in the book. That was my deal. You can talk about anything that's in the book.
BLAKE: Now you want me to talk about Bonnie. Bonnie is not in the book. I chose to allow you to go there and you should deeply, deeply respect that.
BLAKE: Now let the guy in your ear talk to you.
MORGAN: There's no one talking in my ear.
MORGAN: Do you believe that Bonnie Lee was faithful to you?
BLAKE: You mean physically faithful?
MORGAN: I mean people have tried to construct -- those who don't believe you --
BLAKE: Who are those people? Do you represent some of those people?
MORGAN: I don't represent anybody.
BLAKE: Well, then how do you know people have tried to construct --
MORGAN: Listen, listen, Robert, I wasn't even living in this country when this happened.
BLAKE: Well, then where are you getting all this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about the people? I've been out with the people for 10 years. Nobody --
MORGAN: You can --
BLAKE: There ain't nobody trying to construct anything.
MORGAN: You can tap your name into the Internet and you will find a number of people who, at the time and continue to cast aspersions on your innocence over what happened. Now you were acquitted -- BLAKE: Those people cast aspersions on everybody, because people in America are deliriously unhappy right now. Their country is going to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and gone. Their money is going to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) gone. The American dream is going to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and gone. And they'll kick the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of a dead person because that's where America is right now.
MORGAN: But as you know --
BLAKE: I'm making --
MORGAN: Robert, Robert. As you know you were --
BLAKE: What, do you think --
MORGAN: You were acquitted in a court of law.
MORGAN: Of killing Bonnie.
MORGAN: But you were then found liable in a civil action brought by her family. That is why people believe --
BLAKE: Oh, is that why?
MORGAN: Well, don't you think that that is a reason why some people believe you may have done it? You were a huge Hollywood star and a great actor. No one can take that away from you. But in 2001, you were accused of killing your wife. You were acquitted. You spent a year in a prison cell, a cement box, as you call it. But after you were acquitted, the family of your dead wife sued you in a civil case --
BLAKE: Do you know why --
MORGAN: -- and you were found liable.
BLAKE: Do you know why I was arrested?
MORGAN: Weren't you?
BLAKE: Do you know why I was arrested?
MORGAN: Tell me.
BLAKE: How come I was arrested for murder and I stayed arrested for four years, one in a cement box and three in my front room, where I couldn't leave because I was still under arrest. A fellow named Specter was arrested for an hour and went home and was a free man for four years. Then he was found guilty and he's in San Quentin.
You got any idea why, why I was under arrest for four years and he was under arrest for an hour, Mr. Research? MORGAN: No, I don't.
BLAKE: Well, why the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) don't you look it up before we start talking about it? You know what's in the book. If you were going to go some place else, you and the guy in your ear should have gotten at least some information. Why didn't he get a grand jury hearing? Why did he stay in a cement box for a year? Why was there no bail? What about -- what the hell happened to bail?
MORGAN: Why were you found guilty, do you think, in the civil case? Why were you found liable?
BLAKE: I told you why.
BLAKE: I would have been -- I -- if you were -- if you were the lawyer on that side, I took the stand. I was suicidal. Do you understand what -- a little bit earlier, you asked me, do you think I'm sane? At that time, no, I wasn't. I was suicidal. I didn't give a shit if I lived or died. And I damn near did kill myself several times, once in the ocean. I didn't write that in the book because I don't want to get too goddamned morbid.
BLAKE: But God stopped me when I was about a mile and a half out on a black ocean on a black night and said, get home, (EXPLETIVE DELETED), it ain't over.
MORGAN: Do you remember the night that she died well, or is it now something you've blocked out of your head?
BLAKE: No, I remember it quite well.
MORGAN: You went and had dinner at this restaurant.
BLAKE: Where are you going?
MORGAN: I'm interested in what happened.
BLAKE: No, you're not interested. The guy -- what are you doing? What the hell are you doing?
MORGAN: Let me help you. Let me take this out of my ear. There's no one talking to me, OK? You haven't got a worry. There is nobody talking to me. These are my questions for you, which are based, in my view carefully --
BLAKE: Now you want to know what happened that night?
MORGAN: -- on your story. I'm curious, yes.
BLAKE: No, you're not curious.
MORGAN: I am, because you were acquitted and then -- BLAKE: I thought you said you researched all this. So you know what happened that night.
MORGAN: I know -- I know the facts of the night.
MORGAN: I'm curious about --
BLAKE: Tell me about the facts of the night.
MORGAN: You take your wife for dinner to a restaurant.
BLAKE: Go ahead.
MORGAN: Your wife goes to the car. You go back to retrieve, as you say, your gun, which is in the restaurant. And when you return, your wife has been shot dead. When they test the gun that you go and retrieve, that is not the same gun that killed her. Am I right so far?
BLAKE: So far.
MORGAN: Right. So I'm factually correct?
MORGAN: I have no agenda here at all. You clearly think I do, but I don't.
BLAKE: Well, it sounds boring as hell, but go ahead.
MORGAN: I don't think it's boring. Your wife got murdered.
BLAKE: No, but your questions are boring, because I mean even what you just said, are you sure the people at Tibet give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about any of this?
MORGAN: I think you're here because you've written a book about your life.
MORGAN: And I would argue --
BLAKE: There's a lot more to my life --
MORGAN: I'm sure there is.
BLAKE: -- than that night.
MORGAN: But there's probably nothing more significant in your life than --
BLAKE: (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
MORGAN: Really? Than the murder of your wife?
BLAKE: I didn't murder my wife. It may be significant to you.
MORGAN: I didn't say you did it.
BLAKE: But it isn't to me.
MORGAN: I said -- I said --
BLAKE: You said there's nothing more significant.
MORGAN: Than the murder of your wife.
BLAKE: Personally, it's not the most significant thing in my life.
MORGAN: What is the --
BLAKE: The most significant thing in my life? Is when I was 2 years old and I found an audience. The next most significant thing is when I went to MGM as an extra and three years later, I starred in my first film. You know, the -- America just was going to war. It was the worst time in the world for America. But there's nothing more significant than a little boy with no parents, no friends, nothing, walking into MGM and three years later, starring in his first film.
You know how significant that is? No, because you've never lived my life.
MORGAN: Next, Robert Blake tells me what he thinks happened to his wife. Trust me, you're going to want to hear what he says.
MORGAN: I'm back with my explosive interview with Robert Blake. I've saw down with hundreds of guests over the years but there's never been anyone quite like Mr. Blake. I didn't know what to expect and I'm not sure that he did either. One thing is clear. He had a lot to say. A lot of it is in his new book, "Tales of a Rascal: What I Did for Love." I'm going to talk to him about that book but as you'll see that seemed to set him off all over again.
MORGAN: I've read your book.
BLAKE: Yes. That makes you rich.
MORGAN: That's pretty much every detail of your life --
MORGAN: -- that you deemed --
BLAKE: But here's my phony birth certificate. I don't even know when the hell I was born.
MORGAN: But I've read your book. This is about your life. So I'm much more familiar --
BLAKE: It's not about Bonnie's life. And it's about my relationship with Bonnie. I made a deal to come here and talk about anything in the book. I excused you from that deal because I thought you were going to go -- be cool. Now you're trying to drive it into the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) ground. And I don't know why.
MORGAN: I'm not trying to drive anything to the ground.
BLAKE: You're looking foolish.
MORGAN: I'm not trying to drive anything into the ground. I'm asking you questions about what I presumed to be a very important moment in your life. You've written a book about your life. And if you don't --
BLAKE: I've written a book about my life. I didn't write a book about that night and I didn't write a book about Bonnie. Now you can stay there for the rest of your life if you want to, but I'm telling you, you're starting to look silly.
BLAKE: Because it's stupid. You're not getting any place, because there's no place to get. You're just like the cops. There's no place to get. Keep him in jail until he dies, because everybody who's dead is guilty. Why would I marry her if I was going to kill her? I mean I was worth $25 million. I could have hired somebody to kill her when she was in Tibet or some place. She drove all over the country. She was out selling, doing her -- I could have hired somebody to follow her for 10 months and make her disappear so nobody would ever find her, for Christ's sake.
I would go out to dinner with her to kill her? What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is the matter with you?
MORGAN: I didn't say you killed her.
BLAKE: You didn't say I didn't. And you said it's all very interesting. What the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is so interesting about --
MORGAN: I didn't.
BLAKE: Why don't you ask me some really interesting questions?
MORGAN: I said that you were acquitted in the court case but you were then --
BLAKE: And that I was found and I've told you six times I was suicidal by the time we got --
MORGAN: Right. But Robert, that doesn't change the fact that you were found liable in the civil action. I'm curious about --
BLAKE: You would have found liable if you were in my state.
MORGAN: I am curious --
BLAKE: You are curious about why I was found liable?
MORGAN: I'm curious about how you deal with the fact that a civil action was successfully brought against you for killing your wife.
BLAKE: OK. Here's the bottom line. What you think of me, I don't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
MORGAN: You don't know what I think of you.
BLAKE: What these -- shut up for a minute. These people that you represent, whoever they are, the nuts that you find on the Internet, I don't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) what they say to me. I don't really care what I think about me. What I care about is what God thinks about me. When I lay on the bed at night and I say, God, how are we doing, I don't include you. I don't include the people that you represent.
MORGAN: It's not about me. Is it?
BLAKE: Yes, it is. Because you open that door, Charlie Potatoes. I'm not going to let -- I'm not going to sit here and let you or anybody else kick the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of me without defending myself. And you can take that to the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) bank, Charlie.
BLAKE: And if you want to show me the door, that's fine, too.
MORGAN: I've got no interest in doing that. This is an interview. I'm just asking you questions about a hugely important part of your life. I don't see that that is an aggressive act on my part. I've only stated facts.
BLAKE: You don't have any idea of the facts.
MORGAN: What if I said that --
BLAKE: If you do, you would have said, how the hell come that guy was only arrested for an hour and he was found guilty and I was arrested for four years and found innocent? I could drive that one up your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) just the way you keep driving it up to me, that I was found in the civil suit.
Why the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) don't you go find out what the hell you're talking about?
MORGAN: What have I said to you that's factually inaccurate?
BLAKE: It's not so much factually inaccurate. It's boring. It's boring. You want to tell me about the night because you read it in the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) newspaper some place?
MORGAN: Hasn't it ruined your life?
BLAKE: What -- that's another matter, Charlie.
MORGAN: Does it -- is that boring, the fact that this incident ruined your life?
BLAKE: We're not talking about how my life was ruined. We're talking about me and Bonnie and me and Bonnie and you and the people on the Internet who say this and that about me and the rest of that (EXPLETIVE DELETED).
MORGAN: I've said nothing about you.
BLAKE: Don't you feel at all silly?
MORGAN: I've said nothing about you. I've not cast aspersions --
BLAKE: There's 75 years --
MORGAN: -- on your guilt or otherwise.
BLAKE: -- of a career and you want to keep talking about something that has -- go ahead, Charlie, keep dancing.
MORGAN: You keep putting words in my mouth and you're clearly very angry and very upset.
BLAKE: Not at all, Charlie. If I was angry, I would be out the door. Why don't you go find out why the cops arrested me in the first place and the chief of police got up before the entire world --
MORGAN: Let me ask you. Robert.
BLAKE: -- and said we solved the case. Robert Blake is the murderer.
MORGAN: Who do you --
BLAKE: What the hell happened to my constitutional rights?
MORGAN: With all that you've been able to find out since that night, who do you think killed Bonnie?
BLAKE: It's not what I've been able to find out since that night. Bonnie had people that she burned. How bad, I don't know. Did she steal everything from them, something -- we'll leave that alone. But nobody ever really knew where Bonnie was. She had 15 I.D. cards. She had 15 credit cards. She had different places where she lived and nobody could ever find her, if they were looking for her.
But one day, somebody opened a paper and said, Bonnie just married Robert Blake. Where does Robert Blake live? And what? A couple of weeks later, she was dead? Now I just want to you to chew on that for a minute with all these facts that you have.
MORGAN: Robert, how are you going to find peace with yourself? Seriously.
BLAKE: I'm not looking for peace.
MORGAN: You must be.
MORGAN: You can't go through life feeling like this.
BLAKE: Absolutely. What?
MORGAN: You can't go through your life feeling like this, surely.
BLAKE: Says who? I'm 79 years old. I've been this way since I was born. I'd argue with a goddamn rock and then try to beat it up. I'm an actor. I'm a performer. I'll give you the greatest line that anybody ever gave me and I hope it takes you away from Bonnie for 30 seconds.
John Garfield, when I was 9 years old, I played John as a boy. And I had a very difficult scene to play. And I couldn't pull it off. I couldn't pull it off. And John Garfield cleared the room and he got the scene out of me. And he said, Robert, remember this for the rest of your life, your life is a rehearsal. Your performance is real.
And there's nobody that can say that more truthfully than me. I have found an audience, when I was 2 years old. And they never left me, no matter what the cops did, no matter what you say, no matter what your friends that you read on the Internet say --
MORGAN: They're not friends.
BLAKE: -- they've never ever, ever left me. Everybody else did -- family, friends, you name it. They all jumped (EXPLETIVE DELETED) ship. But not the fans.
MORGAN: That's the --
BLAKE: And I'm grateful for that.
MORGAN: Next Robert Blake on the Hollywood friends who stood by his side, or rather didn't. And what he said was the greatest moment of his life.
MORGAN: Which of your Hollywood friends stood by you?
BLAKE: I don't have any Hollywood friends. Nobody stood by me.
MORGAN: No one at all?
BLAKE: No. Nobody.
MORGAN: How do you feel about that?
BLAKE: I'm grateful to God that I lived long enough to find out that 98 percent of my personal life was (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I don't think anybody else would have to ever face that, because they're different than me. I constructed a life. I constructed a marriage. I constructed friends. I constructed business associates. But it was all about what I could do for them. My hand was open to them and their hand was in my pocket.
I paid for love, like it says in the book.
(CROSSTALK) MORGAN: Where did you live --
BLAKE: "What I Did for Love."
MORGAN: Where do you live now?
BLAKE: I live in an apartment, I told you. I'm broke. I couldn't buy spats for a hummingbird. I'm broke. But it's OK. I mean I get a little pension. I get a little Social Security. I'm living like --
MORGAN: Do you have any women in your life?
BLAKE: Well, like I told you, I've been on the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) for quite a long time now. I would like to eventually learn some girl's first name, but I'm scared. There's no question that I'm very thin-skinned and I'm frightened. And there's no question -- (EXPLETIVE DELETED), wait a minute.
There's no question that I take things that you say too seriously and too much to heart. And I do misrepresent what people say to me, because I know I'm still hurt. And I may be hurt for the rest of my life. And the only thing that will cure that hurt is if I get back on that bull that bucked me off and ride him.
If I can go out in front of the camera, making the most beautiful film that I ever made, that's all I really want from life. But I'm not a whole person. I've never been a whole person since them son of a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) cops ripped my guts out and left them by the side of the road. And maybe I never will be a whole person.
But I'm enough of a person to execute the one gift that God gave me on the day I was born. I didn't have to learn how to act. When I was 5 years old, I stood on the set and I watched Spencer Tracy and I said, I know exactly what he's doing. I can do that, just like Gene Kelly danced when he was 5 years old. I can do that, like Mozart got up on the piano.
MORGAN: But is that -- is that -- it seems to me the great heartbreak of your life now is that you can't do the one thing that really brought you true love and happiness.
BLAKE: What? MORGAN: Which was the relationship with an audience and acting.
BLAKE: Who says I can't? I -- this is -- this is my first stint back.
MORGAN: No, no, I'm not saying you --
BLAKE: This is -- look --
MORGAN: I'm not saying you won't in the future. I'm just saying it seems to me that is the one thing you've really been missing.
BLAKE: Hey, understand me clearly. I'm going to do it. I've made money for this town for 75 years. When I go to somebody, whether it's Harvey Weinstein or Donald Duck, I go to them with a package that they can't refuse. Here's the script, here's the money, all you've got to do is get out of the way and let me make you some money.
This book is a calling card. I'm not interested in being an author. I'm not interested in anything except making a beautiful film, the best film I ever made in my life. And I will do it or I'll die in front of the camera while I'm doing it. And you can take that to the bank and collect interest on it, because I've done it since I was 2 years old.
Remember, Charlie -- now I'm not teasing you. You know, it's real simple. In my life, if it ain't magic, it ain't (EXPLETIVE DELETED). All the rest, you know, let somebody else sell peanuts in the stand and spin ropes and do that (EXPLETIVE DELETED). I work on the high wire without a net. That's what I'm comfortable.
Old man Wallenda was one of my heroes. You get on the high wire without a net. You get on a bull and they open that goddamn shoot and there's nobody in the universe but you and God. And that's where I'm comfortable, doing something that's so scary that I can't sleep at night. That's where I'm comfortable. All the rest has been horse (EXPLETIVE DELETED) and gun smoke.
MORGAN: "Tales of A Rascal," Robert Blake, "What I Did for Love." And it is, as I said, it's an extraordinary book. I've never read anything quite like it.
It's been an extraordinary life. It's been an extraordinary interview.
BLAKE: I want to tell you something. It's a one-in-a-lifetime for me, boy. I'm telling you, Piers. It's been a once in a lifetime. I hope I never have to do it again. But it's been a once in a lifetime.
MORGAN: Well, I wish you all the very best.
BLAKE: I know you do.
MORGAN: I really do. BLAKE: And God bless you for that.
MORGAN: And thank you for coming in.
BLAKE: Thank you.
MORGAN: Robert Blake.
MORGAN: Tonight's "Only in America" features a seemed to be unpredictable, crazy and potentially dangerous event perfectly in keeping with the kind of interview you just witnessed. It starts simple enough -- with a charming vignette. The type you'd see on small fish index all over America this summer. A young woman dangling her bait off the South Carolina coast waiting for a nibble.
The trouble is this isn't just any old nibble. This is about as far removed from a normal little nibble as any fisherman could possibly imagine.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're getting a line. (EXPLETIVE DELETED). Jesus Christ!
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MORGAN: A local report says the woman's fiance was filming her at the beach when this shark appeared. Rather like my encounter with Robert Blake but we both feel very fortunate to have emerged unscathed in the experience.
That's all for us tonight. "AC 360" starts now.