Jimmy Kimmel Makes Joke About Robert Blake Being Included in In Memoriam Segment at Oscars 2023

"If you think Robert Blake should be part of the In Memoriam montage, text 'GIMME-A-Blake' to the number on your screen," quipped the 95th Academy Awards' emcee

Jimmy Kimmel Makes Joke About Robert Blake Being Included in In Memoriam Segment at Oscars 2023
Photo: Mike FANOUS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty, Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times via Getty

Jimmy Kimmel did not shy away from joking about a controversial topics at Sunday's 2023 Oscars ceremony — including the recent death of actor Robert Blake.

In between awards during at the 95th Academy Awards, the 55-year-old late-night host claimed to be introducing an "interactive part of the show" ahead of the annual In Memoriam segment.

"Everybody please get out your phones, even at home, it's time to vote," Kimmel told the audience.

"If you think Robert Blake should be part of the In Memoriam montage, text 'GIMME-A-Blake' to the number on your screen, or to any number," he added, in reference to the television and film actor, who died at age 89 on Thursday.

"Text that to your mother if you like. Message and data rates may apply," the host added, drawing laughs from the audience.

Jimmy Kimmel speaks onstage during the 95th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 12, 2023 in Hollywood, California.
Jimmy Kimmel. Kevin Winter/Getty

Blake's niece Noreen Austin confirmed the news of his death on Thursday, stating that the actor died from heart disease. She said in a statement sent to PEOPLE that he was surrounded by family at home in Los Angeles.

The New Jersey native, who began his career as a child actor and starred in the 1967 Oscar-nominated film In Cold Blood, enjoyed a significant acting career over several decades that was eventually overshadowed by his arrest and subsequent acquittal in the 2001 shooting death of his second wife, Bonny Lee Bakley.

Bakley, a 44-year-old mother of four, was fatally shot on May 4, 2001, in Blake's car, which was parked around the corner from an Italian restaurant where the couple had just dined near their home in Studio City, California. At the time, Blake told authorities he'd left his wife alone while he returned to the restaurant to retrieve a gun he claimed had fallen out of his clothing, which authorities determined was not used in the killing.

UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 17: Robert Blake Back in Court in Los Angeles, United States on September 17, 2004 - Robert Blake, star of the 1970's show 'Baretta,' who is accused of murdering his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley was back in Court today with his attorney, M. Gerald Schwartzback, for his pretrial conference. The 44-year-old Bakley was found shot dead in her car in Los Angeles back in May 2001. (Photo by Mike FANOUS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Mike FANOUS/Gamma-Rapho via Getty

Nearly a year later, police arrested him. At his trial, prosecutors cited the statements of two retired stuntmen who alleged to authorities that Blake had attempted to hire them as hit men — an allegation the defense attacked as unreliable.

Jurors deliberated eight days before finding Blake not guilty, and the actor continued to maintain his innocence for years after Bakley's killing.

In 2019, Blake's daughter Rose Lenore spoke to PEOPLE about her "traumatic childhood" following the death of her mother.

"I kind of didn't know where she was buried for the longest time," she said at the time. "I could have just looked it up, but I didn't. I just don't think I was ready. And then when I was 18, I was like, 'I'm ready. I want to go visit her.' "

"I've dealt with my fair share of sadness in life," she added. "But I know I'm going to be okay."

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The Oscars are airing live from Los Angeles's Dolby Theatre on ABC.

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