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American actor who began as a child in Our Gang comedies and
reappeared as a powerful adult performer of leading and character
roles. Born in New Jersey, the young Mickey Gubitosi won a role
in MGM's Our Gang series the age of five. As one of the more
prominent children in the Gang, he gained attention for his cute
good looks and his lovable, if somewhat melancholy, personality.
In 1940, he took on the stage name Bobby Blake (though he
continued to use the name Mickey Gubitosi in the Our Gang series
for another three years), and began playing child roles in a wide
range of films. He gained a good deal of fame as the Indian
sidekick Little Beaver in the Red Ryder series of Westerns.
Though roles were sporadic as he grew to manhood, he was never
long off the screen (except for a period of military service,
1954- 1956). But despite some fine work in films like
Pork Chop Hill (1959) and Town Without Pity (1961),
his career did not take off until his stunning portrayal of
killer Perry Smith in In Cold Blood (1967). A number of
telling performances in films of the next decade, stardom in a
popular television series ("Baretta" (1975)), and several
ruefully comic appearances as a guest on the Tonight Show with
Johnny Carson, made him a popular figure even as his personal
difficulties increased. Consumed with anger over his treatment by
his family and the studio as a child, he denigrated his early
work, suffered bouts of difficulty with , and became known
as a difficult, perfectionistic person to work with. He quit his
successful TV series "Hell Town" (1985) when his personal
demons became overwhelming. After a self-imposed exile of nearly
eight years, during which he struggled to right his life, he
successfully returned to films and television work, appearing
renewed and more confident in himself and his work.
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