Definitions

Jeri Lee

Bonnie Lee Bakley

Bonnie Lee Bakley (June 7, 1956May 4, 2001) was the wife of actor Robert Blake.

Early life

Bonnie Lee Bakley was born in Morristown, New Jersey to tree surgeon Edward J. Bakley and his wife, Marjorie, aka Lois Carlyon. She lived for a time at 6 Kossuth Street in Wharton, NJ during the mid-1970's. She had three other siblings: Margery Lois Hall, Joseph, and her half-brother Peter Carlyon from her mother's second marriage. Problems at home as a teenager led Bonny to move out of the house and in with her grandmother.

She dropped out of high school at age 16 and decided to go to New York City to pursue a career in modeling and acting at the Barbizon School of Modeling. She was married at 21 to her first cousin and had two children with him.

Bakley's early life is checkered by a criminal record. She was convicted in Little Rock, Arkansas for possessing false identifications. In 1989, she was convicted of drug possession in Memphis, Tennessee and later in 1995, convicted of passing bad checks.

FBI records show that in 1994, while under investigation for fraud, Bakley told agents of a con she ran on a college student, sending her then thirteen year old daughter to seduce the man.

Celebrity obsession

Bonnie soon made a living running a lonely hearts scheme, sending nude pictures of herself to men with the promise of visiting them if they sent her money.

Bakley also had a history of pursuing celebrities. Her friends and relatives all described her as "celebrity-obsessed". She claimed to have had an affair with rock legend Jerry Lee Lewis and borne his daughter in 1993, but DNA tests later disproved her claim. Lewis has denied ever having a relationship with Bakley. Tapes of Bakley's phone conversations reveal that she was starstruck and bent on marrying someone famous. "I like being around celebrities," she once said, "it makes you feel better than other people."

Her lonely hearts fraud, however, continued to be lucrative. She was able to marry several of her victims swindling a number of men out of their savings and life insurance. Eventually she obtained enough money to buy two houses and several undeveloped lots in Memphis and a house outside of LA; additionally, her lonely hearts fraud funded her unsuccessful Hollywood career as a singer and actor under the stage name Leebonny.

Marriage to Robert Blake

In 1999, Bonnie Lee Bakley met Robert Blake at Chuck McCann's birthday party. At the time she was seeing Christian Brando, before becoming acquainted with Blake. Blake slept with Bakley, later claiming that she had assured him that she was taking birth control pills. Friends of Bakley later said that she was, rather, taking fertility pills at the time. She was soon pregnant with what would be her fourth child.

Initially, Bakley believed that Christian Brando was the father, but later told Blake she wasn't sure, and that it might have been his. When a DNA test determined that it was Blake, not Brando, that was the father of Bakley's youngest child, Blake agreed to marry her. It was his second marriage, her tenth. Their marriage was somewhat unconventional. Bakley lived in a small guest house beside her husband's house in the Studio City area of the San Fernando Valley. It is rumored that Blake only married her to eventually get custody of their child, whom Blake wanted his childless daughter to raise.

On May 4, 2001 Blake took Bakley to an Italian dinner at Vitello's Restaurant on Tujunga Boulevard in Studio City. Afterward, Bakley was murdered by a gunshot to the head while sitting in the car, which was parked on a side street around the corner from the restaurant. Blake had returned to the restaurant to collect a gun which he had left there, and was not present when the shooting occurred. His gun did not fire the fatal shots.

She was buried at Forest Lawn Hollywood Hills Memorial Park.

Marriages, relationships and children

  • 1) Husband: Evangelos Paulakis (divorced)
  • 2) Husband: Paul Gawron (cousin, married November 1977, divorced 1982, two children)
    • Son: Glenn Paul Gawron (with Paul)
    • Daughter: Holly Lee Gawron (born 1981, with Paul)
  • 3) Husband: Robert Moon (m. 1984, divorced 1987)
  • 4) Husband: DeMart C. Besly (married 7 December 1988)
  • 5) Husband: Joseph Brooksher (married 1992 for 1 day)
  • 6) Husband: William Webber (married 1993 for 2 days)
    • Daughter: Jeri Lee Lewis (born 28 July 1993, father unknown)
  • 7) Husband: E. Robert Telufson (married for 6 weeks)
  • 8) Husband: Glynn H. Wolfe
  • 9) Husband: John Ray (married 1996, divorced 1998)
  • Boyfriend: Christian Brando
  • 10) Husband: Robert Blake (married 19 November 2000)
    • Daughter: Christian Shannon Brando (renamed Rose Lenore Sophia Blake, born 2 June 2000)

Criminal and civil suits

On March 16 2005, Blake was found not guilty of the murder of Bonnie Lee Bakley, and of one of the two counts of soliciting a former stuntman to murder her. The other count of solicitation was dropped after it was revealed that the jury was deadlocked 11-1 in favor of an acquittal. Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, commenting on this ruling, called Blake a "miserable human being" and the jurors "incredibly stupid".

Blake's defense team and members of the jury responded that the prosecution had failed to prove its case. During the trial, the defense alleged that Bakley was a drug addict who used her daughter for prostitution.

On November 18 2005, Blake was found liable for the wrongful death of his wife in a civil trial. Bakley's four children sued him, asserting he was responsible for their mother's death. The jury ordered him to pay $30 million.

References

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