The L.A. Times reports that Robert Blake, the former star of "Baretta" who was accused of killing his wife, was very involved in his legal defense strategy, according to transcripts of conversations he had while in prison awaiting trial. In particular, he had strong opinions as to which 1970s TV stars should be approached to add their clout to the defense.
At the top of the list: "Love Boat" captain Gavin McLeod, who Blake declared to be "perfect." (In what way, he did not specify.) He also thought Lindsay Wagner ("Bionic Woman") and Suzanne Pleshette ("Bob Newhart") would be great. "The whole world loves her," Blake said of Pleshette. Or at least that part of the whole world that still has any idea who she is.
The idea was apparently to parade these stars before the media in order to help Blake's public image. "It should be one person after the other," Blake said. "You call another one and say, 'Would you come to the courthouse with us one time … and afterward go out and talk to the public?" None of the above three were interested, apparently, but other semi-A-list celebrities, including Sally Kirkland ("M*A*S*H") and Wilford Brimley ("Cocoon"), did either show up in court or visit Blake in jail. (Kirkland may not count, because she said she visited not only as a friend but also in her capacity as a minister for something called the "Church of the Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness." She seemed to be serious.) But Blake actually snubbed a request by Scott Baio ("Happy Days") to come and visit. "Tell him to send me a letter," said the unimpressed accused murderer.
You know your career isn't going too well if a guy in jail on murder charges can't make time to see you.
Blake also expounded on the defects of the jury system. "Anybody who has a [job, life, or wife] they care about, they just don't get on juries," he said. "And the ones who stay are usually about 85 IQ and, you know, when Johnny Cochran stands up there and says, 'If it doesn't fit, you must acquit' … we all thought he was a [sic] idiot. But the jury digs that because they're the people that go bowling." A group of 12 such bowlers acquitted Blake in March.
But the tapes also show that Blake claimed he was not too concerned about life imprisonment if he lost. "I don't give a [expletive]," he said. "I'll write my memoirs. Like I said, Charlie Manson ["Helter Skelter"] has a web site and makes money. So it ain't the end of the [expletive] world."