'Goodfellas' star Ray Liotta dies at 67
Actor Ray Liotta has died at 67.
Liotta, who was known for his role as mobster-turned-FBI informant Henry Hill in the 1990 film Goodfellas, died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic, where he was filming the thriller Dangerous Waters, his publicist confirmed to Yahoo Entertainment. He is survived by his fiancée, Jacy Nittolo; an adult daughter, actress Karsen Liotta, whom he shares with ex-wife Michelle Grace; and a sister, Linda Liotta Matthews.
Liotta also had parts in movies as diverse in subject as Field of Dreams, in which he played "Shoeless Joe" Jackson; two Muppet movies; Marriage Story, alongside Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver; and last year's Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark. On TV, he voiced characters on The Simpsons and appeared on shows such as ER, for which he won the Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actor in 2005, and portrayed himself on Just Shoot Me! and Modern Family. Overall, he had more than 100 credits to his name.
Born in Newark, N.J., Liotta has said he only chose to study drama in college because it didn't require him to take any math classes. He'd only auditioned for plays because a pretty girl told him he should, and it turned out that he was a fan. "To be honest with you," he told The Guardian in September 2021, "I thought I'd be in construction."
Some of Liotta's earliest professional acting work was on the soap Another World, before he found jobs in TV movies and short-lived series. In 1986, he co-starred alongside Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels in Jonathan Demme's Something Wild, for which he was nominated for a Golden Globe for best supporting actor. By the time Goodfellas arrived in theaters almost four years later, his career was taking off. Field of Dreams had been a box-office hit in 1989, and he followed up the mob movie with turns in Unlawful Entry, alongside Kurt Russell; the family-friendly Operation Dumbo Drop; and the Sylvester Stallone indie Cop Land. He was working as much as ever in his final years. According to IMDb, he has six projects in the works, including the Elizabeth Banks-directed thriller Cocaine Bear and TV crime drama Black Bird, in which he stars with Taron Egerton.
Liotta had acknowledged that he would always be known for Field of Dreams, which he had never seen because it brought back memories of his mom having been ill when it premiered, and, of course, Goodfellas.
"If you got one movie that people remember, that's great," Liotta said. "If you got two, that's fantastic."
His many former co-stars and others quickly paid tribute to the prolific actor.
Lorraine Bracco, who played his wife in Goodfellas, said she was "utterly shattered" by the news.
"I can be just about anywhere in the world and people will come up and tell me their favorite movie is Goodfellas," she wrote. "And then they always ask what was the best part of making that movie. And my response has always been the same…Ray Liotta."
His Shades of Blue colleague Jennifer Lopez praised him as "the epitome of a tough guy who was all mushy on the inside."
His partner in many Field of Dreams scenes, Kevin Costner, spoke of Liotta's "incredible legacy."
Devastated to hear the news of Ray Liotta’s passing. While he leaves an incredible legacy, he’ll always be “Shoeless Joe Jackson” in my heart. What happened that moment in the film was real. God gave us that stunt. Now God has Ray. pic.twitter.com/JQmk1PsuSK
— Kevin Costner & MW (@modernwest) May 26, 2022
Jamie Lee Curtis, who worked with him on the film Dominick and Eugene in the late '80s, called him both a "gentle human" and a "beautiful artist."
Egerton, Jeffrey Wright, Viola Davis, Josh Brolin, Rosanna Arquette and others sent kind words as well.
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.
— Jeffrey Wright (@jfreewright) May 26, 2022
RIP Ray Liotta!! Loved your work ❤️https://t.co/XmoRVn4L3R
— Viola Davis (@violadavis) May 26, 2022
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.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) May 26, 2022
Shocked and saddened to hear of Ray Liotta’s passing. Beyond the tough guy exterior and the tightly wound emotions of his signature characters, he was a sweet, playful and passionate collaborator and brilliant actor. RIP. pic.twitter.com/O5tueLlBMP
— Mangold (@mang0ld) May 26, 2022
I try not to do the RIPs but Ray Liotta was truly one of my favorites to watch. He just has this magnetic draw to his performances, which is part of the reason Goddfellas remains tied with Aliens as my favorite film(s) ever made.
This one stung more than usual.
— devon sawa (@DevonESawa) May 26, 2022
Too sad to conceive that Ray Liotta has passed. If he’d only made Goodfellas, it would be a credit to retire on. But he was incredible in Cop Land, Narc, Marriage Story & much more, especially his searing debut in Something Wild. His entrance at the end of this scene? Perfection. pic.twitter.com/0IhbRuKx2b
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) May 26, 2022
It was absolutely heart shattering to hear about Ray Liotta's passing. He was such a talented actor and a wonderful person. Rest in peace Ray, we'll miss you. https://t.co/jly5hO006U
— ROSIE (@Rosie) May 26, 2022
RIP GOODFELLA Ray Liotta. I adored you. I love knowing you all those years ago. 😢
— Kristin Chenoweth (@KChenoweth) May 26, 2022
I remember seeing Something Wild for the first time. When Ray Liotta came on the screen you could feel the energy in the room shift. Dangerous. Magnetic. What a debut and what a damn fine actor. RIP and love to his family.
— Josh Charles (@MrJoshCharles) May 26, 2022