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A Real-Life Baretta

Robert Blake only played a tough-guy cop on TV. An actual tough-guy cop may have a bit part in the investigation of the shooting death of Blake’s wife, Bonny Lee Bakley. This real-life Baretta is Culver City Police Chief Ted Cooke, who likes to help celebrities and local politicians pack heat. Over the years, Cooke has handed out concealed-weapon permits to local City Council members as well as actors Sylvester Stallone, James Caan, Gary Coleman and Jim Belushi; entertainers Sammy Davis Jr. and Johnny Carson; boxer Ken Norton; television producer Steven Bochco; film director John Milius; and, yes, Robert Blake.

As Blake tells it, his wife was shot in his Dodge Stealth while he was returning to his favorite restaurant, Vitello‘s, to retrieve his gun, which he had left there under a sweatshirt. No one is saying what kind of gun it was. Detectives have not disclosed whether it was his .38-caliber Smith & Wesson, his .40-caliber Smith & Wesson or his .40-caliber Glock -- state law permits a maximum of four weapons per permit. All three firearms are listed on Blake’s 1998 permit, the most recent permit document that Culver City police have released. Police confirmed that Blake‘s permit remains active and that he still lists multiple weapons.

Starting in 1998, state law required that permit holders live within the jurisdiction issuing their permits. Blake rented an apartment in Culver City, though his primary residence is in Studio City. When the Weekly last stopped by Blake’s Culver City apartment, a neighbor said that he had never seen Blake.

Blake was among 403 gun toters licensed by Culver City in 1999, the most recent year for which state figures are available. Culver City, which has about 41,000 residents, won‘t disclose concealed-weapon-permit totals. Nonetheless, according to the most recent data, Cooke hands out more permits than the police departments of Torrance, Santa Monica and celebrity-studded Beverly Hills combined. The total for those three cities is three.


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