Ray Liotta, ‘Goodfellas’ star and gifted character actor, dies at 67

Ray Liotta, the actor best known for portraying mobster Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese’s crime classic “Goodfellas” and bringing magnetically edgy energy to a gallery of crime dramas and thrillers, has died.

He was 67.

Liotta died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic, where he was filming the movie “Dangerous Waters,” according to his publicist, Jennifer Allen. No foul play is suspected, according to Allen, who said Liotta’s fiancée Jacy Nittolo was with him on the island.

In an acting career that spanned four decades, Liotta established himself as one of the most dependable tough-guy performers in Hollywood, skilled at portraying cops and criminals in films like “Something Wild,” “Cop Land” and “Killing Them Softly.”

GOODFELLAS, Joe Pesci, Ray Liotta, 1990. ©Warner Bros./
Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta in “Goodfellas.” Warner Bros / Courtesy Everett Collection

But he occasionally showed off a warmer side, endearing himself to audiences as the ghost of baseball giant Shoeless Joe Jackson in “Field of Dreams,” opposite Kevin Costner.

“Goodfellas” was indisputably the high-water mark of his career, however, providing him with a juicy lead role in a decade-spanning mafia epic. He portrayed Henry Hill, a real-life mob associate who gets swept up in the thrill and glamour of the criminal underworld.

“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster,” Liotta’s Hill memorably says at the start of the film via voiceover, summing up Scorsese’s vision of mid-century mob life as the ultimate aspiration for men with shaky morals.

Lorraine Bracco, who played Liotta’s long-suffering wife in “Goodfellas,” paid respects to her former co-star on Twitter after the news broke, writing: “I am utterly shattered to hear this terrible news about my Ray.”

“I can be anywhere in the world & people will come up & tell me their favorite movie is Goodfellas. Then they always ask what was the best part of making that movie. My response has always been the same…Ray Liotta,” Bracco said in the tweet.

The Yucatan Times
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