They were both big stars in the 1970s. They were both charged with murdering their wives. But are Robert Blake's legal woes the second coming of the O.J. Simpson trial?
Blake, charged with killing his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, is the latest celebrity to face real-life justice in a court of law. But the comparisons to the Simpson trial really end there.
Since the dawn of Hollywood, big stars have gone on trial for serious crimes. While some seem to have exploited their fame to escape conviction, others have seen their careers destroyed.
In the two most infamous celebrity trials, defendants O.J. Simpson and Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle were both acquitted. But both of them were effectively drummed out of show business.
But some stars recover after facing legal troubles. Errol Flynn seemed to have increased his popularity after beating charges of statutory rape in 1943.
Here is a look at some of the more serious trials involving popular entertainers.
Celebrities on Trial
Fatty Arbuckle — In 1921, just after signing a three-year, $3 million contract with Paramount Studios, Arbuckle threw a wild Labor Day party. Four days later, 25-year-old starlet Virginia Rapp died and Arbuckle was charged with rape and manslaughter, amid allegations the heavyset silent film star crushed the young woman while forcing himself upon her.
Two juries deadlocked and a third acquitted Arbuckle, declaring a great injustice had been done. Nevertheless, his career was ruined. Once the hightest-paid comic in Hollywood, he died an impoverished alcoholic.
Errol Flynn — The swashbuckling movie star, who had a reputation for courting very young women, was charged in November 1942 with statutory rape of two teenage girls. Known as a charmer — hence the term "in like Flynn" — he testified in his own defense. He was acquitted by an all-woman jury and his career suffered no long-term damage.
Norman Mailer — In 1960, the novelist stabbed his wife, Adele, during an argument at a party in their New York apartment in 1960. He was charged with felonious assault. She didn't want to press charges, saying they had made up and she just wanted to keep her family together. Nevertheless, the judge refused to dismiss the case. Mailer pleaded guilty to third-degree assault and the couple split up soon after. Mailer went on to marry many more times and win two Pulitzer Prizes.
Sid Vicious — The punk-rock legend died of a drug overdose in 1979 while awaiting trial for murder in the death of his girlfriend. Nancy Spungeon bled to death on the bathroom floor of the couple's room at New York's Chelsea Hotel in 1978, a 7-inch hunting knife in her abdomen.
Jerry Lee Lewis — The rock legend has a long history of brushes with the law. He once shot and wounded his bass player, Norman "Butch" Owens. He avoided jail but had to pay damages. His fourth wife, Jaren, was found dead at the bottom of a swimming pool just before their divorce was final in 1982. The next year, his fifth wife, Shawn, was found dead in bed of a methadone overdose. Lewis wasn't charged in either death. A year later, he decided to give wedded bliss another try and took a sixth trip to the altar.
John Landis — The director and four others were charged with involuntary manslaughter in the 1982 deaths of actor Vic Morrow and two child actors who were killed when a helicopter crashed on the set of the Twilight Zone movie. Landis admitted that child labor laws were violated. Still, the defendants were acquitted in 1987. In wake of the incident, Hollywood imposed new safety guidelines and tougher child labor laws.
James Brown — In 1987, "The Godfather of Soul" was arrested on drug charges for the fifth time in 10 months. On this occasion, he had allegedly attacked his wife and led police a wild chase across the Georgia-South Carolina state line. He was convicted of attempted murder and served a little more than two years before being released on the condition that he would not own a firearm.
Zsa Zsa Gabor — In one of the most colorful celebrity trials, the much-married actress was convicted of misdemeanors for slapping a Beverly Hills police officer during a traffic stop in 1989. She served three days in jail.
O.J. Simpson — The former football hero and sometime actor was arrested in the gruesome 1994 stabbings of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ronald Goldman. After Simpson's white Bronco led police on a slow-speed, televised chase, the case became a national obsession. The gavel-to-gavel yearlong TV coverage launched the career of several legal commentators.
The criminal trial ended in acquittal. A subsequent civil trial that was not televised resulted in Simpson being held liable for the killings and ordered to pay the victims' survivors $33.5 million. A familiar face on TV for more than 25 years, Simpson has had trouble finding work and now lives in Florida with his two younger children.
Snoop Dogg — The smooth-sounding rapper (real name: Calvin Broadus) served time for selling drugs shortly after high school. He faced a murder charge in a drive-by shooting in which his bodyguard allegedly pulled the trigger. Snoop and two co-defendants maintained the shooting was in self-defense. He was acquitted in a 1996 trial.
Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs — After a December 1999 nightclub shooting in New York, Combs was tried on gun possession and bribery charges (for allegedly offering his driver money to claim the gun was his). The eight-week trial ended with Combs being acquitted and changing his handle from "Puffy" to "P.Diddy." His clothing line and record-producing career both continued, and he even made his acting debut in Monster's Ball.
Paula Poundstone — The comedian was charged with three counts of committing a lewd act on a girl under age 14. She pleaded no contest last year to a felony charge of child endangerment and a misdemeanor of inflicting injury on a 12-year-old. In return, prosecutors dropped the more serious charges, but Poundstone lost custody of her foster children and was sentenced to probation and alcohol rehabilitation. Poundstone denied the most serious allegations, but said in a statement: "My drinking helped to create a dangerous situation for the children. For this, I am very sorry."
Lizzie Grubman — The New York PR diva backed her Mercedes SUV into a crowd outside a Hamptons' nightclub last year after arguing with a bouncer over a parking spot and allegedly calling him "white trash." Sixteen people were injured. Grubman drove off. She said she wanted to get help; unkind folk suggested she may have sought to avoid being tested for drugs and alcohol. Grubman was charged with assault and leaving the scene of an accident. The trial is still pending and Grubman is still a PR powerhouse.
Robert Iler — The 17-year-old who plays Tony Soprano's son on the HBO gangster series The Sopranos was arrested in July 2001 for allegedly robbing two people of $40 and for possession of marijuana. He admitted that he and another teen decided to "hassle" the victims and pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor, petty larceny, in return for a sentence of three years probation. Iler will revive his role on The Sopranos later this year.