Ray Liotta, Star of ‘Goodfellas,’ Dead at 67
The film world has suffered another sudden and shocking loss. Ray Liotta, a fixture in movies and television for more than 30 years, has died.
According to Deadline, Liotta passed away “in his sleep in the Dominican Republic, where he was shooting the film Dangerous Waters.” Liotta was only 67 years old.
Liotta’s best-known work remains his leading role in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, where he played Henry Hill, who falls in love with organized crime as a kid in Brooklyn and then grows up to become a key figure in the New York Mafia of the 1970s and ’80s. Liotta’s Henry goes from idealistic and ambitious thief to strung-out addict, before he finally commits the ultimate sin in the eyes of his friends and rats out his former associates in court.
Although the film did not win the Oscar for Best Picture (Dances With Wolves was the Academy’s pick) the film is now widely regarded as one of the very best of the 1990s, and perhaps the greatest film ever made about the mob, with Liotta’s incredible performance — full of ambition and greed and brotherly love and manic anxiety — as one of the key reasons why it is still regarded as a masterpiece:
But Liotta’s career was much more than just Goodfellas. He grew up in New Jersey, studied acting in college, and then started working professionally in New York City, His breakthrough performance came in Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild, which earned him a Golden Globe nomination. A few years later, he gave another acclaimed performance in Field of Dreams, where he played the ghost of White Sox great Shoeless Joe Jackson.
Then came Goodfellas, which brought Liotta even more attention. Liotta worked steadily after that, appearing in movies like Unlawful Entry, No Escape, Cop Land, Narc and Hannibal. When leading man parts became more rare, he pivoted to supporting roles and became even busier; he appeared in seven movies in 2014 (including such disparate titles as Muppets Most Wanted and Sin City: A Dame to Kill For) and nine movies in 2012. He recently returned to the world of organized crime with the Sopranos prequel movie The Many Saints of Newark, where he gave two very fine performances as twin brothers Dick and Sally Moltisanti.
Liotta remained busy right up until his death. In addition to The Many Saints of Newark, he had recently shot roles for Elizabeth Banks’ upcoming film Cocaine Bear, a Charlie Day comedy, and the Apple TV series Black Bird from mystery writer Dennis Lehane. There are few details about Liotta’s death at the moment, but it’s a tragic loss for his family, friends and fans. His work in films like Field of Dreams and Something Wild and Goodfellas will last forever, though. He won’t be forgotten.