‘Goodfellas’ Star Ray Liotta Dead at 67

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Amy Sussman
Amy Sussman

Actor and producer Ray Liotta, best known for his breakout role in Goodfellas, has died in his sleep at age 67.

Very sadly, I can confirm,” Liotta’s publicist Jennifer Allen told The Daily Beast on Thursday. “He went to sleep last night and didn’t wake up this morning.”

Deadline Hollywood first reported that the actor died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic, where he was shooting a new thriller titled Dangerous Waters.

Following his big break as real-life gangster Henry Hill in the Martin Scorsese-directed classic, the New Jersey-born actor had a lengthy career, most often portraying tough-guy gangsters, federal agents, or police detectives.

In 2016, he starred opposite Jennifer Lopez in the NBC drama Shades of Blue, a dirty-cop role that he credited with putting him back in the public consciousness.

“I’ve done a lot of independent movies that I thought were very good, but it’s hard to get people to see them,” he told reporters in 2017. “It reminded people that I know how to do this. I’ve definitely had an up-and-down career, and this has definitely put me back in the public eye.”

While his intense, piercing-blue eyes made him particularly well-suited for playing cops and bad guys, he also had a streak of lighter roles, including guest turns in Muppets from Space, Muppets Most Wanted, Disney shows like Hannah Montana and Phineas & Ferb, as well as Nickelodeon’s SpongeBob SquarePants.

In recent years, he starred in HBO’s Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark in a dual role as twin gangsters “Hollywood Dick” and Salvatore “Sally” Moltisanti.

Liotta is survived by his fiancée Jacy Nittolo and a daughter, Karsen, from his first marriage to Michelle Grace.

As news of Liotta’s death spread on Thursday, his friends, co-stars, and admirers took to social media to share their grief.

Lorraine Bracco, who played Liotta’s onscreen wife Karen Hill in Goodfellas, wrote on Twitter, “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.”

Viola Davis tweeted, “RIP Ray Liotta!! Loved your work,” while Jamie Lee Curtis wrote, “His work as an actor showed his complexity as a human being. A gentle man. So sad to hear.” Jeffrey Wright shared, “Ray Liotta. Man. Just met dude for the first time last year. GREAT actor. Nice to have had a chance to say that to him. RIP.” James Caan wrote simply, “Not Ray” alongside a broken heart emoji.

Seth Rogen, who starred with Liotta in the 2009 black comedy Observe and Report, tweeted, “I can’t believe Ray Liotta has passed away. He was such a lovely, talented and hilarious person. Working with him was one of the great joys of my career and we made some of my favorite scenes I ever got to be in. A true legend of immense skill and grace.”

Similarly, actor Alessandro Nivola reflected on acting opposite Liotta in last year’s Sopranos prequel film, The Many Saints of Newark, by sharing a photo on Twitter. “RIP Ray Liotta. I feel so lucky to have squared off against this legend in one of his final roles,” Nivola wrote. “The scenes we did together were among the all time highlights of my acting career. He was dangerous, unpredictable, hilarious, and generous with his praise for other actors. Too soon.”

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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