Ray Liotta, the fiery New Jersey actor best remembered for his role as Henry Hill, the hustler-turned-mob rat in Martin Scorsese’s GoodFellas, has died. He was 67 years old at the time. The actor died in his hotel room in the Dominican Republic while filming Dangerous Waters, according to publicist Jennifer Allen of The Hollywood Reporter. Jacy Nittolo, his fiancee, was also present. He had just been working on the picture for approximately a week.
In Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild (1986), he played Ray Sinclair, the violent ex-convict husband of Melanie Griffith’s character; in Kevin Costner’s Field of Dreams (1989), he played the disgraced baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson; and in the 2016-18 NBC cop drama Shades of Blues, he played the corrupt cop Matt Wozniak opposite Jennifer Lopez. His expertise was crime fiction, and he was excellent as shady policeman in Unlawful Entry (1992), Cop Land (1997), and Narc (2002), as well as the voice of gangster Tommy Vercetti in the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.
The film GoodFellas (1990) was based on Nicholas Pileggi’s debut book, Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family, which followed Hill, a street-level hustler in New York City who determines that the only way out of the mob alive is to rat on his Lucchese crime family associates. In his review for THR, Kirk Honeycutt stated that Liotta “fulfills the promise of his feature debut in Something Wild.” His choir-boy appearance brilliantly conceals the character’s sinister conduct. Henry, as depicted by Liotta, never completely loses the ‘good’ in the goodfella handle.”
After Pesci recounted Liotta and Scorsese a tale about an incident in which someone mistook what he was saying and became enraged, he and co-star Joe Pesci improvised the legendary “How am I funny?” moment. On Twitter, Lorraine Bracco, who played his wife in the film GoodFellas, paid homage to him.
She added, “I am absolutely crushed to receive this dreadful news about my Ray.” “People will approach me from all over the world and tell me that their favorite film is GoodFellas. Then they always want to know what the most enjoyable aspect of creating the film was. It’s always been the same for me… “Ray Liotta,” says the narrator.
Liotta’s résumé included the films Dominick and Eugene (1988), Phoenix (1998), Hannibal (2001), Blow (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).
He earned a bachelor’s degree in theatre from the University of Miami in 1978, then worked as a bartender on Broadway before winning the part of good guy Joey Perrini on Another World from 1978 to 1981.