Joan Wixen Tames...

THE TERRIBLE ROBERT BLAKE

Memo to the Editor:

I hope, by translating it into suitable language, I didn’t stifle the flavor. Doing this piece shook me up a bit. In fact, the PR man who came in the last 15 minutes said he was flabbergasted that I could sit through it. I left out about 270 major obscenities and an equal number of minor ones. When I left I was so discombobulated I forgot to take his picture, and I had to go back. He greeted me with a big smile and pat on my back and a “Hi, Pal!”

Joan Wixen

An excerpt from an interview that was published in the Sunday Magazine, September 7, 1975

By Joan Wixen, Sunday Magazine Contributing Correspondent

How do you write about somebody when you’re not quite sure whether you like him or you hate him? And how do you put into words what he said during an interview when the language couldn't be used except in a porno magazine?

He sits there, slumped - in his chair, his eyes half-closed, his voice barely audible, giving you the feeling he can’t stand doing this type of thing. He is wearing a wrinkled T shirt and old pants.

And as you look into his sullen, brown eyes, you see the face of a grown-up dead-end kid who isn’t going to take anything from anyone, and you wonder if he really is as tough as he appears.

“OK,” Robert Blake mumbles, “so what is it you want to ask me?”

In his left hand he holds a box of Cheez-its, and with his right hand he is busy taking the cheez-its from the box and stuffing them into his mouth.

“Aren’t you at least going to offer me some?” I say, as we sit facing each other in an office at Universal Studios. He reached over and puts the box in front of me.

“Here,” he says, “take some.”

Then he slumps further in his chair and sprawls his feet over a big oblong coffee table. So I take off my shoes and do the same thing, and both of us are sitting there with our feet on the table, our arms crossed, silently, not saying a word.

I think to myself, Jeez, how did I get into this one? Adela Rogers St. Johns was right when she told me on the phone this morning I was nuts to try to interview a guy like this. She was once on a talk show with him and he was so obnoxious that she exploded at him on the air.

“ I hardly ever give interviews,” he says. “And when I do, I make it a policy never to read them.”

“Is that your way of letting me know that you don’t give a damn about what I write?” I say.

“That you’re only doing this thing because actors need some occasional publicity?”

He just grunts and looks away.

“Well, at least you’re honest and you don’t pussyfoot around.“ I say. “I’ve always had the feeling that people like you are either very secure and terribly sane, or that they’re a little nuts. How would you describe yourself?”

To read the entire interview, please contact the Detroit Free Press.

Photos