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Who Killed the Wife of 'Baretta' Star Robert Blake?

Aired May 16, 2001 - 21:00   ET


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Hollywood's latest crime story: real- life murder. Sensational, unsolved. Who killed the wife of "Baretta" star Robert Blake? Exclusive insights into the actor from his son, Noah Blake, speaking out for the first time about the man behind the tough-guy image.

Then attorney Cary Goldstein. He represented the crime's victim, Bonnie Lee Bakley. Also in Los Angeles, Robert Blake's attorney, Harland Braun. With us in Washington, Bonnie Lee's half-brother, Peter Carlyon. In Nashville, Linda Gail Lewis. Bonny pursued her famous brother, Jerry Lee. Back in L.A., Robert Blake's personal assistant Earle Caldwell, and the man who created the "Baretta" TV series, producer, writer, bestselling novelist Stephen J. Cannell. They're all next on LARRY KING LIVE.

We begin with our first guest, Noah Blake, the son of Robert Blake. This is exclusive, his first interview since all of this happened. We thank you very much for coming, Noah.

Now, you're the son of Robert's first marriage.


KING: OK. And you have a sister, right?

N. BLAKE: Uh-huh. Yeah, her name...

KING: And you also have a half sister, who would be Bonny's daughter.

N. BLAKE: Yes, I do.

KING: Is it true that you never met Bonny?

N. BLAKE: No, I never did.

KING: How do you -- how do you explain that? Your father's wife?

N. BLAKE: How I do explain that? Well, I think it was -- at that point, when they had met and got involved, I wasn't talking to my dad a lot anyway. You know, I'm living my life and he's living his. And I think probably it also had a little to do with the fact that, you know, they hadn't really established what the nature of their relationship was going to be. I mean, although they were married, you know, it obviously wasn't traditional. And so I think it would have kind of been a reverse effect of sort of the meeting the parents, you know, in a sense, and that would have been me, and I just don't think it was time to do that yet.

KING: Noah, you said you didn't see lot of your father. Were you estranged or just not close or what?

N. BLAKE: No. We're neither estranged nor not close. We just, you know -- I'm a grown-up person living my life and he's living his. And you know, I've been for the last while really trying to individuate and separate, because I had a pretty big shadow looming over me for a good portion of my life, which was this, you know, tough-guy "Baretta" image. And it just happens that I'm in the same industry that he is, so, you know, I've just been trying to separate and kind of do my business.

But no estrangement.

KING: What was he -- what was Robert Blake like growing up?

N. BLAKE: Well, I don't know what he was like growing up, but I can tell you...


KING: No, I meant what was it like for you growing up with him.

N. BLAKE: It was -- well, you know, people have asked me that before, and it's like I don't have anything to compare it to, because I only grew up with that dad in that life. So I don't know what it's like to grow up with a plumber, or you know, some other, quote, you know, "regular person" for a father.

But you know, for me, it was -- you know, it had some great stuff and a lot of it was difficult, because of who he was and the image that he projected, and you know, being his son. There was -- there was always some kid, some wannabe bully tough guy who figured if he could beat up "Baretta's" kid that it would make him Superman or something.

KING: And of course, he was a child star, so he was in the business all of his life.

N. BLAKE: Yeah. All of it. It's hard to even conceive that, you know, someone who is supporting their family from the time they were 4 or 5 years old, and has been, you know, acting ever since. You know, 60-something years. It's...

KING: And he has -- he has this image of tough guy. Is that purely image or would you say dad is a tough guy?

N. BLAKE: No. Dad is not a tough guy. I don't know what a real tough guy is. Maybe, you know, some Marine Navy SEAL or something where you have to kind of shut off portions of your personality to survive, to get by. And I think he adopted a lot of that, because he came from a -- a sort of a war-zone-like household that he grew up in when he was a kid. It wasn't very good.

So I just think as he went on in life, and then certainly after the whole "Baretta" thing, he -- he wore this mantle, you know, of the tough guy, and I think it was more just out of fear and insecurity than anything else. But you know, that's not who he is.

KING: Was he tough in the sense that did he -- was he very tough on you? Was -- did he hit you as a child? I mean, was he a spanker?

N. BLAKE: A spanker?


KING: Well, people -- some fathers will say, we don't spare the rod.

N. BLAKE: No, he wasn't a big spanker. You know, he'd yell. Gosh, maybe once or twice I remember maybe he spanked me. But no, I never saw in my life, Larry, I never saw my dad hit anyone, push anyone, swing at any one, beat anyone up, get beat up, get into a bar fight, get drunk, get arrested. He never did any of the things that supposed tough guys are reputed for. You know, he got -- he got away with this image just by the roles he played, and you know, the colorful, controversial, you know, intriguing interviews that he would do.


KING: Yeah.

N. BLAKE: ... it was never -- you know, you've had him on. You know, and...

KING: And never in that same regard, you never saw him harm your mom.

N. BLAKE: No. No. I mean, they yelled at each other.

KING: We'll come back...


N. BLAKE: ... yell at each other.

KING: We'll talk to Noah Blake about how he learned of this incident, talking to his father since, what his life is like now, since all of this. Noah Blake begins all the things tonight. This is LARRY KING LIVE. Don't go away.


KING: We're back with Noah Blake. Noah, how did you learn of the incident?

N. BLAKE: I think, if I remember correctly, I got a call from my sister very early in the morning. I'm pretty sure. KING: Did you go to see your father?

N. BLAKE: Not immediately, no.

KING: But you eventually did?

N. BLAKE: Oh, yeah, absolutely.

KING: All right. What -- what was that like? How's he doing? What's the mood? Tell us.

N. BLAKE: Well, they were having a big party, you know, and there were champagne corks and...


He was -- he was -- he was really upset. I mean, he was -- I -- I -- he was -- I think the best way I could describe it is just kind of in shock, you know. He was scared. He was scared for himself, he was scared for me, he was scared for my sister. He just had no idea what had happened. And he was really scared. He still is, you know, pretty shaken up about this.

KING: Do you feel very sorry for him?

N. BLAKE: Oh, god, yeah. I mean, I just, you know, I just hugged him, and held him and held him. And I mean...

KING: Did you ever give a -- ever give a thought, Noah, that he might be the perpetrator?

N. BLAKE: You know what, it -- it didn't even really cross my mind. I mean, it -- maybe somewhere in the back of my head I thought, "Did he?" You know, does he have a -- I mean, not really, no. It just -- it didn't even seem possible. It's -- not -- I didn't even ask him.

KING: What did -- what did you make -- did you talk to him about -- did you talk to him about the incident? Did you talk to him about the gun or going back to the restaurant? Did you talk to him about that night?

N. BLAKE: Umm, not much. You know, really I was just trying to console him and comfort him. We really didn't get into too much of the details, you know. You know, I -- I -- he said, you know, that he forgot his gun, he went back there, and that he came back. And he -- he was so shaky and so shaken up about it that he was, you know, he said: "You know what? I saw her, and you know, I just, I got, I got terrified." And I -- you know, he -- I'm sure he must have. I can't imagine anything else.

KING: Why did he carry a gun?

N. BLAKE: Umm, I couldn't answer that for sure, you know. I'm not him. But from time to time, I know that, you know, God, I -- even as a kid growing up, you know, there -- there is always some idiot who wants to get drunk and start something with a tough guy. And you know, like I said, he avoided it his entire life. And from what I understand, you know, Bonny was afraid and wanted him to carry it.

KING: Not afraid for herself, afraid for him?

N. BLAKE: No, afraid for herself.

KING: But not from him?


KING: I mean, as he being protective of her...

N. BLAKE: Yeah, exactly.

KING: ... and having his gun around.

Noah, now, of course, it was well-known that he had a drinking problem. He discussed it. He was in AA.

N. BLAKE: Yeah.

KING: Did you talk to him a lot during his life about drinking?

N. BLAKE: Umm, not a whole lot, because, again, I'll tell you the truth, Larry, I never saw my dad drunk. I never -- you know, and he didn't like sneak out of the house to do it. I think, you know, he is the kind of person who if he felt like he was, you know, having a drink here, drink there, drink wherever, maybe that it was too much.

I don't really know. I don't know, you know. I think it's great that he goes to AA, and I think it's, you know, a good thing for anybody, their whole system of just trying to live your life better and do the right thing. But again, to be totally honest I never saw him drunk.

KING: Do you personally fear that he might be charged?

I mean, does that enter your thoughts, that my dad might be arrested?

N. BLAKE: In sort of an irrational sense of, you know, the sense that a kid is afraid of the bogeyman. But in reality, you know, all there is, is innuendo and rumor and sensationalism and hype. I mean, I've heard every crazy thing in the book. I mean, I heard he had a car that had machine gun turrets on it. And you know, I -- just to address that, you know, Larry, it's -- there are atomic laser disintegrator rays on that car. So I just want to make sure that's clear to everybody, you know, just to address some of the rumors.

KING: So what is this doing to Noah?

N. BLAKE: It's not a picnic. It's not a picnic at all.

I didn't mean to be flip, but what I was saying was, you know, the fear of him being charged is -- there is no -- I mean, there's not been one shred of anything that connects to him or points him in any way to this crime. So...

KING: But he's certainly taking care. I mean, he's had one criminal lawyer. He's hired another criminal lawyer. He certainly must have some thoughts that something could happen.

N. BLAKE: Well, because everybody is pointing to him, you know, and trying to create a story here. So I'm sure he's scared and he's protecting himself.

KING: Did he know you were coming here tonight?

N. BLAKE: Yeah.

KING: Did he approve, or did he say, don't go, or did he say anything?

N. BLAKE: He said -- he said, do what you feel is right, man. Do what's in your heart. And if you want to talk to any press or not talk to any press, you're a grown man. Do what you -- do what's in your heart. And you know, he's not concerned about that at all.

KING: Do you think he should come forward?

N. BLAKE: Absolutely not. Come forward with what? He is not, you know -- like again what I said was my dad is innocent. Period. He doesn't need to prove that. He is not obligated nor is he obliged to address a thousand-trillion rumors, you know.

If he comes out and starts answering a bunch of rumors, then it's, you know -- you know how it works. Then -- then where do you draw the line? Then if he doesn't answer something, says, "You know what, I don't want to answer that," then they go, ah, see, he didn't want to answer that one, that must be the -- blah-blah.

KING: So it's almost a no -- it's a no-win, though, because if you don't say anything, people say, "Well, why isn't he saying something?"

N. BLAKE: He -- he's no more obliged to answer questions about this than you are.

KING: Of course.

N. BLAKE: Nor is he...

KING: Of course.

N. BLAKE: ... or the Kennedy assassination. He has the same connection to that virtually as far as the law is concerned. He had nothing to do with this, and you know, like I said, when the only thing out there is scandalous, rumor, tabloid gossip, why would he want to come out and say that?

You know, if somebody says, you know, Noah was found in a Vegas hotel room with a syringe in his arm and a pack of elephants, you know, I'm not going to come out and start defending myself about that. People can believe what they want to believe. But if I know there's nothing to do with it, then I'm not going to address ridiculous nonsense.

KING: We'll be back with some more moments with Noah Blake. As we go to break, here's what the police chief in Los Angeles said today about this investigation.


CHIEF BERNARD PARKS, LOS ANGELES POLICE DEPARTMENT: We do not have sufficient number of clues to identify a suspect. We're working through all these clues. We're interviewing people. We're waiting for whatever our forensic tests are available.

And so, again, we're driven by the collection of evidence and the interviewing of suspects or witnesses compared to an artificial time line that somebody would like to place on us

QUESTION: Did you say there were few clues so far?

PARKS: There are very few clues, yes. It's a whodunit.



KING: There's the Noah Blake house, which has got press around it every day, and tourists go by. And that's the Robert Blake house -- I'm sorry -- in Studio City, California. People supporting him. Keep the faith.

The TV series "Baretta" made Robert Blake a household name and burned his tough-guy image into the public's brain. Here's a small sample.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): Keep your eye on the sparrow, when the going gets narrow...


KING: What do you make, Noah, of that scene at the house?

N. BLAKE: Well, a scene -- I think that's a good way to describe it. I mean, I don't -- I don't know what they're waiting for. I don't know what they're hoping for.

I mean, I -- you know, and the clip that you just showed of the police chief or the detective, whoever that was...

KING: Chief.

N. BLAKE: ... saying again, we haven't identified any suspects in this case. My dad has not been mentioned once by anybody of any authority as a -- even a suspect here. And it is just, you know, I don't know.

I think it is -- the public has some kind of insatiable lust for scandal and so, when there even isn't one, try to create one, and I don't understand it, but it certainly exists.

KING: Couple other quick things, how is your half sister? How is the little girl?

BLAKE: She is doing good. She is a beautiful little kid; she is a -- she is great.

KING: And does he contact with her? Because we know how deeply in love with her he is.

BLAKE: Yeah, I think he does. Yeah.

KING: And Noah, I asked you earlier, we didn't elaborate at all, the effect on you has been tremendous, right?

BLAKE: It is -- um -- it is hard to even fathom what happens, I mean it is just -- it was just immediately, you know, phone ringing off the hook, reporters everywhere, and, you know, and I just -- I didn't want to get involved in it at all, you know? I just wanted to say, come on, please, let this go away.

And when it became clear that it wasn't, and I just kept seeing this endless parade of -- Robert Blake psychology experts appearing out of hither and yon, there must be a university course offered someone into my dad's psyche.

KING: Noah I'm glad you came here, I'm glad you were with us, we will call upon you again, and we hope everything goes well for you.

BLAKE: Thank you very much, Larry, and thanks for giving me an opportunity to come here and let everybody know how I'm feeling about this.

KING: Noah Blake, the son of Robert Blake. We'll take a break and come back and meet Cary Goldstein. He was originally Bonny Lee's attorney. He now represents her younger sister. Don't go away.


KING: We are back with Cary Goldstein, a return visit, as promised the other night. He used to represent the late Bonny Lee Bakley, and now, he represents her younger sister, Marjorie, and in any civil matters that might come about.

The latest, Cary, dealing with all this is alleging about Bonny Lee targeting the actor Gary Busey. What do you make of all of this?

CARY GOLDSTEIN, BONNY BAKLEY'S ATTORNEY: What I said before, Larry, I mean, there are so many American women around the country, that would just love to marry a celebrity. Lee Bonny was just good at it. KING: So you hold this -- are you saying this is incidental to all of this? What do you make of all the stories about your late client?

GOLDSTEIN: Well, what about it, Larry? What does it have to do with anything? It has nothing to do with this situation. So she had people out there, that she was talking with, you know, maybe took some money from. I don't condone the criminal activity, but you know, I would like to comment on what Noah had to say.

You know, I give the man credit for standing up for his father, but what I can tell you, Larry, is that there are facts out there that have not been responded to. I mean, the story that was put forth on behalf of Mr. Blake by his counsel, as far as I'm concerned, is theater of the absurd.

What are they doing now is building a dreamteam. This is O.J. again, right down to the Kato Kaelin character, they are adding lawyers, they are adding characters daily, if you stop and you look at the absurdity of the situation, you will see -- you will see what's going on.

KING: So, you're believing -- are you saying you believe he did it, and that all this is a buildup to overcome that? Is that what you are saying, Cary?

GOLDSTEIN: I'm saying -- I don't know if he did it or not. But his story is absurd. Forget the facts and the stories that are spinning in the press, the machine guns on the car, forget that baloney. Take the story that comes from his counsel. Think about that absurd story. Here is a man who is worried about the safety of his wife, carries a handgun, goes to that trouble to do so, then leaves her next to a dark construction site at night, in the car, a block and half from the restaurant in a bad neighborhood, walks back to the restaurant because he is supposedly left his handgun there.

Larry, this is theater of the absurd, and what frightens me, Larry, is that they are starting to sell it. The characters they are putting up before us, Larry, are looking good, these are people who are -- who America wants to like. Noah seems like a great guy, but Noah doesn't know anything here. Noah doesn't know the story. This isn't right. My client documented -- Lee Bonny -- documented the story.

Lee Bonny has letters where she calls Blake a maniac. We know about his background. We know about what this man was like. We know that he kidnapped a child. He is not the lovable dad that is being portrayed here. This man has problems. Did he murder Lee Bonny? I don't know. But certainly, he is a very, very likely suspect.

KING: Do you think Mr. Braun is acting unethically?

GOLDSTEIN: No. Well, no, I will not -- I do not think he is acting unethically, I do have a problem with one thing that Mr. Braun has done, they have released those tapes and on those tapes are privileged attorney-client privileged statements between Lee Bonny and my office. And they were obtained inappropriately, none of Lee Bonny's possessions were rightfully obtained by Mr. Blake, pursuant to terms of the prenuptial agreement.

And even if they were obtained properly, there is attorney-client privilege and Mr. Braun's office knows that. I have discussed it with Mr. Braun and, fortunately, I think we are going to resolve the issue.

KING: Where is -- when is the funeral? Where is the body? Do we know of any arrangements?

GOLDSTEIN: You know, it is so important that we keep the funeral secure, but unfortunately, apparently, the information is out. I don't want to add to it. I'm not going to add to the melee, but...

KING: But there is a funeral, the body has been turned over to proper authorities for burial and the like?

GOLDSTEIN: Yes, Larry.

KING: And Noah said that the girl is OK. Do you know that to be a fact, too, the little baby?

GOLDSTEIN: No. But I would assume with such focus on what's going on that she is.

KING: Thank you, Cary, as always, we will be calling on you again.

GOLDSTEIN: I appreciate that.

KING: Cary Goldstein, the attorney for the sister Marjorie, of the late Bonny Lee Bakley.

We mentioned Harland Braun. We'll get his response to all of this, right after this. Don't go away.


KING: We now welcome Harland Braun. He is Robert Blake's attorney. And first, any comments on what Cary Goldstein just said, Harland?

HARLAND BRAUN, ATTORNEY: No, I just will speak for Mr. Blake. I really don't want to answer the charges. The charges that the child was kidnapped is absurd. I have the written agreement between Lee Bonny and Robert Blake which basically sets forth the terms of the child custody, and sets forth all the conditions of it. Some of them are rather strange but basically there was no kidnapping. You can't kidnap your own child.

KING: I know you brought some documents. We haven't seen them, but you're vouching for whatever authenticity they are, if they come up.

BRAUN: These were those taken right out of Lee Bonny's property and copies were turned -- the originals were turned over to the police department, and I have copies.

KING: What about this -- as he charged, this onslaught of attacks on her? Let's say everything about it is true. She was killed. Why is it material?

BRAUN: It is very material, because we are trying to cooperate and assist the police in finding who killed her. Now, Robert Blake is obviously the person who is primarily being investigated thoroughly and completely. We accept that. Whether you call him a witness, suspect, whatever. He was there, he has to be investigated. We told the Los Angeles Police that they should seize all of her property, to go through it to it look for other suspects, and they did not. And we seized it, and then we have turned it over to them subsequently.

So we -- she had such a strange business of defrauding and cheating men out of money for sexual reasons and romantic reasons that there could be any number of people out there who would have a motive to kill her.

KING: Oh, I see. So you are doing it to help the police or others to take away from the aegis against your client and point out that there are many other people who could have done this or had reason to do this.

BRAUN: To be fair to the Los Angeles Police, if a woman is killed and she's not raped or robbed, there is a good chance, statistically, that it would there would be her husband or boyfriend or something like that. This is not a typical case. And that is what we had to point out to the Los Angeles Police.

And Lee Bonny is not a typical person. She has been running a 25 year con game, and there is a lot of people out there who have been cheated defrauded who might have a motive, and that is all we are trying to point out.

KING: Is your client, though, very saddened by her death?

BRAUN: He is shocked, saddened. I mean it was a difficult relationship. I mean, no one says this is a normal marriage. He married her because in order to maintain control over his daughter's upbringing he had to marry her, but they were doing better. On the trip that they took shortly before her death they seemed to be getting along well, and they seemed to actually be having a good time together.

KING: Why did your client have the need to hire another counsel?

BRAUN: Well, because I -- there is a lot of work in this particular case. I'm a traditional criminal lawyer. I am an adversary with the police. Barry Levin, who I asked to help me, is a former Los Angeles Police Department (sic) who represents a lot of police. And they have a tremendous confidence in him. So I believe the combination of the two of us will allow us to work with the police more efficiently.

KING: Do you have a comment on what former O.J. prosecutor Marcia Clark told "TIME" magazine that the only thing protecting Blake from arrest is celebrity?

BRAUN: Not at all. I mean the Los Angeles Police Department, if they had had any physical evidence that pointed to my client they would have arrested him. And I think that is an unfair charge by Marcia.

KING: Your theory, which Cary said was incredible as to what happened that night, the going back for the gun and the like. How do you respond to that?

BRAUN: Well that is exactly what happened. I mean he put the gun down, and there is a number of witnesses that corroborate that. And then when he realized he didn't have the gun when he was in his car, he instantaneously shot out of the car in order to, thinking, "My God, I left a loaded gun in a restaurant booth." But you know, we have other theories, and we don't know what happened.

I mean, for example, we have found in the property we turned over to the Los Angeles Police Department, a letter within 60 days of her death from one of the people she was defrauding, saying that he has hired a hit man to...

KING: You have a letter from someone telling her that he has hired a hit man to get her.

BRAUN: Not against her, against her -- his wife's boyfriend. And he warns her in this letter essentially that if she is trying cheat him or defraud, him he is kind of man that hires a hit man. I'm not saying this is the man that killed her, I'm saying this is the kind of evidence the Los Angeles Police should look at.

KING: You are not going to name the person, right?

BRAUN: I think it would be unfair because the police should investigate it completely.

KING: Now, we haven't seen these documents as we said earlier. So we don't have chance to verify them, but you have them there, right?

BRAUN: I have them, for example I have a -- I have a property profile on my client, that was obtained by Lee Bonny, his wife, prior to them even meeting. So in other words, she was essentially stalking him, figuring out who he was and how much money he had before she arranged to meet him in a bar.

KING: Some of this, of course the thing that sounds weird about it, Harland, and distasteful, I guess, is that she is dead.

BRAUN: You know what, I believe in a forgiving God, but I also think it is important to treat the living fairly. We've only released 10 percent of the information we had on Lee Bonny. The reason we did it was because the police wouldn't seize the evidence that I asked them to seize. And it was only by going to the press did we force the police to start looking at alternative theories.

KING: Do you expect someone to be arrested in this crime?

BRAUN: I am afraid not.

KING: Not.

BRAUN: Not. I'm convinced that my client is innocent. Then, once the police recognize that, there is almost an infinite number of people out there that would have a motive to kill her. I mean, we've only 30 to 60 days worth of the letters from her, and there is like hundreds of men who have sent her money under belief that she was going marry them or they were going to have sex with her, and so I don't know if there is someone out there. But I wish them well. It is a terribly difficult investigation. I predict it will never be solved.

KING: Thanks, Harland. Harland Braun, the attorney for Robert Blake. When we come back, Peter Carlyon. He's flown here to Washington from Memphis. He's the half-brother of Bonnie Lee Bakley. Let's find out what he thinks of all this. Don't go away.


KING: We now welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, Peter Carlyon, he's the half-brother of Bonny Lee Bakley -- the late Bonny Lee Bakley. They have the same mother and different fathers. What do you make of what you've heard so far tonight?

PETER CARLYON, BONNY BAKLEY'S HALF-BROTHER: Basically, a lot of different peoples' standpoint of what has transpired. What I basically feel has transpired is a very good strategic strategy. Well-placed players...

KING: Who put your sister as a villain?

CARLYON: Where she belongs. They have smothered her memory with negativity that she has earned over the years. She was no Mother Theresa, yet she was not the people that they're trying to portray her as. And...

KING: What was she like?

CARLYON: A generous person. Kind, good hearted, for the most part. Of course, you know, she did have her...

KING: Quirks.

CARLYON: Yes, quirks. That's the perfect word. She was conniving, and I'm not denying that. I'm saying that she was conniving. She did have evil characteristics. She was no Mother Theresa.

KING: So she -- you're not saying she sort of made her bed and had to lie in it.

CARLYON: I am saying that, Larry.

KING: You are.

CARLYON: I am. But it's unfortunate that a decent -- she was no murderer, she was no rapist, she was no child molester. If she were, I'd say drag her behind a car until she died. But she wasn't. She was generous. She did as much as she could for other family members that were down and out, helped whoever she could when she could. And it's misfortunate that she did not listen to family and separate herself from the situation she was involved with.

KING: Were you were close with her?

CARLYON: I was for a time when I was involved. But after I had an experience with federal authorities, and I realized that...

KING: Involving her?


KING: Did you know Robert Blake?

CARLYON: No. Did not ever meet him. Never really had any real interest in meeting him, just because -- I didn't want to be involved anymore.

KING: How did you learn your sister had been killed?

CARLYON: Through Fox News, and watched her basically die in the gurney behind the ambulance that they showed, and watched Robert Blake walk off with the sheriffs while they were still working on her. I didn't see him mourning over his potentially dying wife, which, I can assure you -- my wife and I don't have the most beautiful relationship, but if she were lying on her deathbed, hanging on to the last strain of life she had, I wouldn't walk off from her under any circumstances.

KING: So you have a feeling he was somewhat involved?

CARLYON: I am not saying that he is 100 percent guilty. I'm saying that I feel that he is 99 percent -- and then there is the 1 percent that it was just a random act of violence. I'm not saying that this happened in Mayberry. This happened in Los Angeles, and so I'm trying to keep as realistic of a standpoint as I can in this.

KING: What do you make of all media thing?

CARLYON: I say the media is releasing a lot of basic crap. I hate to say it, but, just garbage. You know, I'm not saying -- I don't know Mr. Blake, but I'm not saying he's an idiot. If I were Mr. Blake and my wife were murdered, I wouldn't write on the walls, "I'm not going down for this." I mean...

KING: Have you been offered money by tabloids?

CARLYON: Yes, and have turned them down. Repeatedly.

KING: Although your mother spoke to them, right? CARLYON: Yes, and...

KING: Did that disappoint you?

CARLYON: Yes. It disappoints me that any of my family members would financially gain from death of another family member. And I'm saying that I was the least close to Bonny, but out of respect for the dead, and respect for myself, and hopefully, gaining at least an iota of respect from the American public -- I will not financially benefit from the loss of my sibling.

KING: The attorneys tell us that they do know that details now of the funeral and where the body is. Do you?

CARLYON: I do not.

KING: You're the brother and you don't know where your sister's funeral is?

CARLYON: No, and though I did fly out to L.A. to attend a ceremony, could not get Harland Braun to return one of my phone calls. Tried calling Blake at what I thought was his number, but I think it was the wrong number -- could not. Either way, went out there for five days, did not attend a ceremony, and almost had nervous breakdown doing it.

KING: What did you think of Noah tonight?

CARLYON: I basically feel he is in the same place as I am, which is dark, and it's lonely. It's a place of not knowing what's going to happen next, who's doing what to solve what. I do have to commend the LAPD for remaining tight-lipped, as they didn't in the O.J. deal, and as they promised me, they would remain tight-lipped.

KING: Do you think they have learned from that?

CARLYON: They told me they learned from that. They're a good bunch of guys, and they did a lot for me when I was out there. No one else would.

KING: Well, Peter's going to stay with us, and we'll be joined by Linda Gail Lewis, Earle Caldwell, and Steven J. Cannell right after this.


KING: Remaining with us is Peter Carlyon, half-brother of the late Bonny Lee Bakley. In Nashville is Linda Gail Lewis, a friend of Bonny Lee's, the sister of Jerry Lee Lewis, who, by the way, was pursued by Bonny Lee. Also in Los Angeles now is Earle Caldwell, Robert Blake's personal assistant and bodyguard, a return visit. And an old friend, Stephen Cannell. Stephen is the creator of the "Baretta" series, which starred Robert Blake. He's a producer, writer, actor, best-selling novelist. His newest book, by the way, is "The Tin Collectors," and he really knows how to spin a yarn. There is its cover. Linda, even though Bonny Lee was pursuing Jerry Lee Lewis, you still liked her a lot, didn't you?

LINDA GAIL LEWIS, JERRY LEE LEWIS' SISTER: I did really like Bonny. Yes, I did. I knew her to be a good mother, and we used to take our children out to Disney movies together.

KING: How did you hear about this?

LEWIS: I was watching CNN news, and I heard it on there, and I was just -- I couldn't believe it.

KING: And is your mind racing through the idea of suspects and who might do it as well?

LEWIS: Yes, because it's such a shock. I've never had a friend who was murdered before. This is the first time.

KING: And even though she was pursuing your brother in maybe not the best of manners, you still liked her.

LEWIS: Well, Bonny was very likable, and she never did anything to my brother that was wrong, really. I mean, she just would turn up and want to spend time with him. She really wanted to marry him.

KING: Nothing wrong with that. Stephen, we've heard a lot of back-and-forth tonight. You knew him as well as anyone. He worked for you. What's he really like, Robert Blake?

STEPHEN J. CANNELL, CREATOR, "BARETTA": Well, I think it was kind of an interesting -- that's an interesting question, because I'm not sure I could even answer that -- knowing him for almost 20 years, off and on, didn't spend a lot of time with him. But Robert gave you an image, I think, that he wanted you to believe. And as Noah said earlier, it was a tough-guy image. It was certainly solidified by the show "Baretta" that we did together. But I always felt that -- that a lot of what I was getting off of Robert was sort of what he wanted me to see. And, of course, he is being tattooed with that right now. You know, he -- he always had that sort of blue collar persona, right on the edge of violence. He sort of -- I think he enjoyed that -- that as a persona.

However, even though he was often on the show quite hard to deal with, and he'll admit that I'm sure, himself, I never saw him rise to the level of violence. I never saw him throw a blow at anybody or physically assault anybody. So, it all just of appeared to me verbiage, and he was very emotional.

KING: Earle Caldwell, would you say the same that this was a persona?

CALDWELL: Yeah, very much so. I mean, the time that I spent with him, he was my boss, but I mean he was tough -- but, he was fair. I never saw him yelling. The only time I would even consider it yelling is his version of singing. It was kind of loud, so that's about it. KING: Peter, the trouble with all of this is you...

CARLYON: Is that...

KING: ... weren't there.

CARLYON: I was not there. I was not close to my sister. I cannot say that any of my information is firsthand. I have got be very honest and blunt with you. What I can tell you is that I have sugarcoated a lot of what I do know strictly because...

KING: Sugarcoated what you know about Robert Blake?

CARLYON: No, no, no -- don't take it the wrong way. Sugarcoated as far as what I've said about my sister and my family and myself. Sugarcoated a lot of things over the past couple weeks, I just strictly because I don't intend to put her in the ground or -- hell, she's not in even the ground, she's still in a block of ice. I'm not going to just...

KING: Bring down the name.

CARLYON: Yeah. I mean, no more than it has been.

KING: We'll be back with our remaining moments. Here's another clip from Steven Cannell's production with Robert Blake of "Baretta."


ROBERT BLAKE, ACTOR: Sure that's a good idea, that's what his mother does, that's what her boyfriends do, that's what her social workers, that's what everybody does. What the hell good does it?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Hey, hey, you know something? We don't care about that. You want to know why? Because we are policeman. We are not social workers, you got that?



KING: Once again a shot of Robert Blake's dwelling in Studio City, California which has now become a tourist attraction and a media hangout and is part of the bizarre nature of celebrity and murder and the likes of which attract so many.

Linda, do you have any theories at all, any thoughts about this?

LEWIS: The thing that bothers me the most Larry is the thing about the gun, because in all the years that I have known Bonny, I never knew her to ever have a gun, or suggest that anyone carry one.

KING: So the thought that she suggested to Robert that he have a gun for protection, you doubt?

LEWIS: I find that very strange. And I do doubt it. Larry: Do you know if she ever had a gun -- Peter, do you know if she ever had a gun.

CARLYON: Yes, I do, and I want to make my belief very clear. She did have guns throughout the years, and I want to make my point very clear, that I am absolutely for the carrying and ownership of guns, I do not believe that guns kill people, I believe people kill people.

KING: But you're are saying Linda is wrong. She had guns.

CARLYON: She is wrong, she has guns.

KING: Boy, you are really up front about this.

CARLYON: I want to be very up front, I don't want to be taken as just your average schmuck.

KING: Earle, you have a theory.

CALDWELL: As far as the killing, you mean?

KING: Yeah, what do to make of all of this.

CALDWELL: It -- it's such -- it's so wild. There's so much craziness going on, it is hard to say anything. I know who didn't have anything to do with this and this is Mr. Blake. He just doesn't have it in him to do something like that.

KING: Steven, you are a novelist. You have directed and produced some of televisions most intense dramas, is this beyond fiction?

CANNELL: Well, it's certainly a pretty good episode of "Columbo," I think,


You know -- you know, it's such a sad case. You know, my main mantra here in the last couple days when I've been asked to speak is to say we should give Robert his presumption of innocence. You know, there is a tendency, I think, in a lot of news rooms to want to put the cuffs on him and take him off. You know, because it is going to make a hell of a story. Whereas, there may be a desire for that, I think we need to wait and let the police make their investigation and see if Robert ever gets charged with this. And if he doesn't, then I think we may owe him an apology.

KING: And, Peter, you have already praised the police.

CARLYON: I have praised the police. I would like to get one other thing out of the way.

KING: Get it out because we're running out of time.

CARLYON: OK, I've got a couple of thank yous and that would to be to you, Mr. King, for having me on. Also to Maryland Fletcher from "Dateline" who's helped me through a tremendous amount of -- I almost had a nervous breakdown in L.A. -- thank you. Also to my wife, who we are expecting a new baby, I'm with you, I'm going to be there.

KING: This has taken a lot out of you.

CARLYON: It has. It's been one headache on top of the other, and like I said, I'm on verge right now.

KING: Take it easy.

CARLYON: I'm going to try.

KING: Thank you all very much. Boy, we will stay on top of this. Anne Robinson is with us tomorrow night, the host of "The Weakest Link," and on Friday night the cast of "The Sopranos."

Stay tuned for "CNN TONIGHT." I'm Larry King. For all of our guests, thank you for joining us and good night.



4:30pm ET, 4/16

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