The Real Reason Robert Blake Was Banned From SNL

Long before the ravenous claws of today's social media had sunken into thin celebrity skin, there were still instances in show business where feuds got ugly and unforgivable. David Letterman and Oprah Winfrey reportedly banned one another from appearing on their shows during a conflict spanning decades. Comedian Artie Lange was prohibited from returning to Conan O'Brien's late night talk show after a guest spot ended in an uncomfortable display of inebriation. Johnny Carson refused to welcome Joan Rivers as a guest after she debuted a rival talk show effort (via Buzzfeed).

From afar, it all looks like a chaotic flurry of endless grudge matches, and per their nature, some grudges just don't go away. When Robert Blake was invited to host Saturday Night Live in 1982, viewers were excited to see the "In Cold Blood" star join the program's impressive roster of personalities. However, after a crude gesture from Blake to the SNL production team behind the scenes, he was never invited back (per Far Out Magazine). 

Blake insulted the writers and cast

"My vote for worst host is Robert Blake," longtime SNL writer David Sheffield once shared. Apparently, during preproduction of the broadcast, Blake was going over the particulars of a skit he was set to perform with a group of the show's comedians. Hosts on the show generally appear in skits throughout the program, so Blake was geared up for a few of them. The incident in question took place while the production team was outlining a skit involving a renegade school teacher (portrayed by Blake) who quoted famed existentialist Søren Kierkegaard and, despite his vast knowledge, repeatedly responded to his students' inquiries by saying "I don't know" indifferently as he combed his greasy hair atop a motorcycle, Fonzie style (via Far Out Magazine). 

Blake, after finding the script disagreeable for one reason or another, elected to display his discontent in a way that the SNL production team agreed was far too abrasive to tolerate. After deciding that he would hear no more of it, he crumpled up a sheet of script paper and declared, "I hope you got a tough a******, pal, 'cause you're going to have to wipe your a** with that one," and tossed in the face of SNL writer Gary Kroeger. The team of actors were so stunned by Blake's abrasive and uncalled for behavior that they vowed then and there to keep him out of SNL territory for good (via Far Out Magazine). 

Robert Blake wasn't the only celebrity banned from SNL

Despite the ugly debacle back stage, SNL opted to let Robert Blake host the show on November 13, 1982. Blake appeared alongside Kenny Loggins on a few notable skits, and the night by and large was a success. However, Blake remains to this day on the SNL blacklist, alongside a series of other celebrities who likely won't be invited back any time soon (via Archive). 

A few other notable names to have joined the "never again" list at "Saturday Night Live" include Steven Seagal, Sinéad O'Connor, Milton Berle, and Frank Zappa. None other than comedy legend Andy Kaufman was barred from appearing on the show's stage after he suggested an audience vote on his further appearances. (Nearly 200,000 voted "no," per Mental Floss.) Even among a room full of jokesters, it would appear that the world of comedy still adheres to a certain code of conduct.

Robert Blake's acting history and murder charges

Robert Blake started acting as a child and appeared in "Our Gang" short films when he was only 5 years old (back then, he went by his real name: Michael/"Mickey" Gubitosi). Years to come would put him before audiences of both stage and screen, skyrocketing him into a successful acting career at a significantly young age (per IMDb). His detective series "Baretta" ran for four seasons in the 1970s, and Blake picked up an Emmy for his work in the role. Perhaps it was the abundance of experience and renown he enjoyed through his life and show business that augmented a sense of hubris and unruly behavior, though nobody is really at liberty to say for sure. 

In early 2005, Blake was charged with the murder of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, who was shot to death in a parked car. The jury ultimately acquitted him of the crime based on a lack of tangible evidence, but he was convicted later that year in a separate case for "intentionally" causing her death and was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $30 million to his late wife's children (via History). Celebrity Net Worth reports that the judgment later was halved; nevertheless, after legal fees from years in court, at present, Blake's net worth is -$3 million.