Right when the convention opened problems started with Robert and the promoters. He was furious when he saw that his table was in the same room as the other celebrities. After screaming at and threatening the organizers, he got his way and was moved to a room all by himself. Knowing how volatile the situation was, I got in his line early with a copy of a 1967 Life magazine. The cover has Truman Capote, Robert Blake and another actor standing on the set of “In Cold Blood”. Both the book and the film are favorites of mine and I always had thought that having his signature on the magazine would be a nice memento. He signed the vintage periodical with no problem, but his penmanship leaves something to be desired. The people in line had all sorts of interesting memorabilia to get autographed as well. I saw a Baretta board game, Little Rascals film posters & countless movie stills from his various roles.
Interestingly no one heckled or booed at him, and things seemed to be going smoothly until reportedly some fan with a ghoulish sense of humor brought up a Vitellos menu to get signed. Apparently seeing the name of the restaurant associated with his wife’s murder was too much for the veteran actor to take and he stormed out. He was only there for an hour and a half. From what I heard the fellow with the distasteful item’s comment was “I don’t know why Mr Blake is so upset, he beat the rap”.
Sunday at the show was quiet, until Robert showed up, stayed in the parking lot and started to give out photo’s and signing autographs from the trunk of his car. The promoters were perplexed. However, they managed to coax Blake inside and gave him a table. He had the organizers announce on the intercom that he would only sign for free and so crowds of people swarmed him. It started to get out of hand, until he stood on his chair and announced something to the effect -” I ain’t going no place….I’ll stay here until I drop….I got four or five hundred stills. The only thing I ask is to be nice to each other. If you start elbowing or messing around, I gotta leave…. Yesterday, felt like a fool charging you…. Your my fans I love you.” After his little speech the people surrounding him applauded. He got back to signing, but then security came by and escorted him out. He was only there less than an hour. In the mean time some of the other celebrities had complained about his giving autographs for free when they were selling theirs. Some even threatened to leave if it did not stop. Angie Dickinson was pissed saying that if Blake is giving away autographs, she didn’t need to be there as it was beautiful day and she would rather be in her yard
As I look at the Life Magazine cover I notice the feature article title above Blake’s head is “Nightmare Revisited”. Gee how appropriate considering what occurred this weekend…..