Famous "Barretta" TV star Robert Blake died of heart disease this week. He died on September 19th at 63. He was the last known surviving member of The Little Rascal's gang.
"I met Robert Blake many times and he always seemed to have a heavy heart. I think it's because his childhood was stolen from him," said Paul Petersen, who formed a support group for child actors: Smart Toddlers Are Respectable, Seriously (STARS). Blake was one of the few that made the transition from childhood star to adult stardom.
Robert Blake's character, Micky Gubitosi, was a whinny kid who always complained and was probably the only unhappy, pessimistic character on the show, which was characterized by happy, fun-loving kids.
"I hated being in Our Gang," Blake said once. "It was a very unhappy time in my life. You lose all perspective when you're a kid in show business."
Most of The Little Rascal/Our Gang Team did not go any further in their careers, but Blake was one of the exceptions.
Blake went on to star in the long-running TV series "Barretta". TV cops had gimmicks those days. Kojak was balled and sucked a lollipop. Cannon was obeise. Barretta was the cop with the parrot on his shoulder. His slogan was "Don't do the crime if you can't do the time."
He was awarded the Emmy for best actor for his portrayal of Barretta in 1973. Last month he sold it on eBay.
Friend remember him as a drinker and smoker, but not a drug taker.
"I never saw him without a cigarette or a drink in his hands," said longtime friend, Patty Duff."But at least he never did drugs."
Blake was also a peace activist who played a vital role in helping re-juvinate The Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament when in stalled in the Mojave Desert on its way to Washington D.C.
With biceps the size of canteloupes and a sometimes tough guy disposition, he wasn't accepted by all. He was later criticized for doing too much.
Blake was born in Los Angeles and died in Milpitas. After Barretta went off the air, he raised parrots for a living. He was married five times and had seven children.