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Robert Blake unleashes during Piers Morgan interview

By Chelsea J. Carter, CNN
updated 6:01 AM EDT, Thu July 12, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Twitter explodes with reaction from the combative interview
  • NEW: Robert Blake quotes verbatim, at times, from his writings during profanity-laced explanations
  • Blake says he's never allowed the questions Morgan asked
  • The actor calls Morgan "Charlie Potatoes," taking a line from a 1958 movie

(CNN) -- Actor Robert Blake accused CNN's Piers Morgan of calling him a liar in a combative, profanity-laced interview that was more remarkable for its tone than revelations surrounding his acquittal in the 2001 murder of his wife.

Blake, 78, said he agreed to appear on the show Wednesday to promote his self-published memoir "Tales Of A Rascal," telling Morgan that the book was not about his late wife, Bonnie Lee Bakley, or their relationship.

"I made a deal to come here and talk about anybody from the book," Blake said after Morgan asked about his feelings about the case.

"I excused you from that deal because I thought you were going to be cool. Now you're trying to (bleep) into the ground."

Blake was acquitted in 2005 in connection with the murder of Bakley, though that same year he was found liable for her death in a wrongful death lawsuit and ordered to pay $30 million. Blake subsequently filed for bankruptcy.

When Morgan asked about the case, including the civil suit, Blake demanded: "Do you know why I was arrested?"

"Tell me," Morgan said.

"Well, before you start asking questions, you should do some goddamn research," Blake said.

Robert Blake: I didn't kill my wife
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Blake: "Nobody tells me I'm a liar"

The actor has long maintained his innocence, raising questions about Bakley's past and her relationships with other men as a possible motive.

Bakley, who also had a well publicized relationship with Marlon Brando's son Christian, was found shot in the head in North Hollywood in 2001. The couple had married six months earlier after a paternity test revealed her child belonged to Blake not Brando.

"Bonnie had people that she burned. How bad I don't know. Did she steal everything from them? We'll leave that alone. But nobody really knew where Bonnie was. She had 15 ID 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," Blake told Morgan.

"But one day somebody opened the paper and saw that Bonnie just married Robert Blake and where does Robert Blake live. And what a couple of weeks later she was dead. I want you to chew on that for a bit."

Blake's use of profanity is nothing new. Excerpts posted online from his self-published book are filled with it, especially as he describes the case that was built against him by Los Angeles authorities -- and his subsequent imprisonment while waiting to stand trial.

Blake accused Morgan of insulting him by raising questions about the case.

"Nobody tells me I'm a liar," Blake said.

At one point during one of Blake's tirades, Morgan asked: "Are you sane?"

Later Blake said: "My skin is a little bit thin. I've never allowed anybody to ask me the questions you're asking."

Blake gives his take on wife's murder
Morgan to Blake: Are you 'sane'?

But during a 2011 interview with Tavis Smiley, the actor touched on similar subjects and gave similar answers, including accusing the talk show host of "getting a little weird now" when he asked questions about the case's aftermath, according to a transcript of the interview posted online.

When Morgan raised questions about what he said he "presumed to be a very important moment" in Blake's life, the actor responded: "I didn't write about that life and I didn't write a book about Bonnie."

At times, Blake appeared to be drawing on his acting experience, quoting lines from movies or interviews he gave years earlier.

When Morgan asked where Blake was living, the actor appeared to draw on an answer he gave in 1993 to Entertainment Weekly: "I live in an apartment. I told you, I'm broke. I couldn't buy spats for a hummingbird."

At other times, Blake took profanity-infused lines directly from his book, according to excerpts published online, delivering them almost verbatim, including an explanation of how he lost the civil suit brought by Bakley's family.

"They didn't win it, I lost it. I went up there, suicidal, to lose that," he told Morgan.

He went on to call Morgan "Charlie Potatoes" or "Charlie" during the interview, taking a line from the 1958 movie "The Defiant Ones" that describes a man who is rich and popular.

"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," he told Morgan, again using language from his book.

Twitter -- the closest thing to an instant barometer of public opinion -- exploded with reaction.

"To my friend Charlie Potatoes: Great TV! Better you than me," former talk show host Arsenio Hall tweeted.

Morgan, himself, tweeted: "Incredible interview. I'd cast him in a movie with Charlie Sheen tomorrow."

Morgan also asked Blake about his wife's background.

"I think she was a con artist, yes," Blake said. "I think she came to Hollywood to con her way into show business."

Blake also said he "didn't know here well enough to know her."

"I love her - well, I love you as a human being. You're my brother in arms," he told Morgan during the interview. "We're all in this thing together. But we were not dramatically in love or things like that."

Blake is best known for his role as a tough-talking detective in the 1970s TV show "Baretta" and his Oscar-nominated performance as condemned killer in the 1967 movie "In Cold Blood." He began his career as a child actor, starring as a Mickey in the "Our Gang" movie shorts.

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