Ray Liotta, star of Scorcese mafia hit ‘GoodFellas’, dead at 67

Ray Liotta, who played mobster Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas, passes away at 67

Ray Liotta played mobster Henry Hill in GoodFellas
Ray Liotta played mobster Henry Hill in GoodFellas

Ray Liotta, fabled for his role as the New Jersey mobster Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas, has died. He was 67.

He died Wednesday night in his sleep in his hotel room while in the Dominican Republic making the movie Dangerous Waters. His fiancée, Jacy Nittolo, was with him. He had begun work on the film about a week ago.

In his myriad acting roles, the boyish, blue-eyed Liotta also was memorable as Ray Sinclair, the violent ex-convict husband of Melanie Griffith’s character, in Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild (1986); as the disgraced Chicago White Sox baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson in the Kevin Costner starrer Field of Dreams (1989); and as the corrupt cop Matt Wozniak on the 2016-18 NBC cop drama Shades of Blue, opposite Jennifer Lopez.

He also voiced mobster Tommy Vercetti in the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

GoodFellas (1990) was based on Nicholas Pileggi’s first book, 1985’s ‘Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family’ which revolved around Hill, a street-level hustler in New York City who decides that the only way to get out of the mob alive is to snitch on his cohorts in the Lucchese crime family.

He and co-star Joe Pesci improvised the classic “How am I funny?” sequence after Pesci told a story to Liotta and Scorsese about a situation he got caught in when someone misinterpreted what he was saying and got irate.

Liotta’s résumé included the films Dominick and Eugene (1988), Phoenix (1998), Hannibal (2001), Blow (2001), Heartbreakers (2001), John Q (2002), Identity (2003), Revolver (2005), Smokin’ Aces (2006), Observe and Report (2009), Powder Blue (2009), Killing Them Softly (2012), The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), Muppets Most Wanted (2014) and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014).

Born on 18 December, 1954, he was adopted by Mary and Alfred Liotta, an auto parts retailer, from an orphanage when he was six months old. He later found his birth mother, as well as his half-brother and five half-sisters and a full sister.

He studied acting at the University of Miami and graduated in 1978, then worked as a bartender on Broadway before landing the role of nice guy Joey Perrini on Another World; he remained on the NBC soap from 1978-81.

Liotta came to Los Angeles and made his film debut as a rapist in 1983’s The Lonely Lady, starring Pia Zadora, then portrayed a cop in his first primetime series, ABC’s Our Family Honor, in 1985. Three years later, he played Frank Sinatra in the HBO telefilm The Rat Pack.

In addition to his fiancée, survivors include his daughter, Karsen, and his sister, Linda.