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Ray Liotta death: Goodfellas star dies aged 67

Actor died in the Dominican Republic while shooting a new film

Louis Chilton
Thursday 26 May 2022 17:13 BST
Goodfellas actor Ray Liotta dies aged 67
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Actor Ray Liotta, best known for his leading role in Martin Scorsese’s 1990 crime classic Goodfellas, has died aged 67.

He died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic while shooting a new film project entitled Dangerous Waters.

The actor is survived by his daughter, Karsen. Before his death, he was engaged to be married to Jacy Nittolo.

His movie career spanned five decades. As well as his acclaimed turn in Goodfellas, Liotta also enjoyed celebrated performances in films including Cop Land and Field of Dreams.

In recent years, he had undergone a resurgence in popularity, appearing in projects such as the Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newarkin which he played two roles – and the Noah Baumbach film Marriage Story.

Mob rules: Joe Pesci, Liotta and Robert De Niro in ‘Goodfellas' (Warner Bros)

Lorraine Bracco, who starred opposite Liotta in Goodfellas, said in a tweet that she was “shattered” by his death.

“[People] always ask what was the best part of making [Goodfellas]. My response has always been the same... Ray Liotta.”

Born in New Jersey on 18 December 1954, Liotta was adopted at the age of six months, after being abandoned at an orphanage.

He later told Esquire: “I’m adopted so I don’t really know what I am. Who I consider my mother and father are Italian and Scottish. I did find my birth mother and she said she was a mix of something, and when I asked about what my Dad was she wouldn’t even talk about it. It was like it never even happened.”

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Liotta grew up in New Jersey before moving to New York and eventually Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. Liotta’s first film role came in 1983’s The Lonely Lady.

His breakthrough came in 1986, in the Jonathan Demme film Something Wild. Liotta was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor prize at the Golden Globes for his performance.

Liotta promoting ‘The Many Saints of Newark’ in New York last year (Getty/Deadline)

In 1990, he took on the lead role of Henry Hill in the rise-and-fall gangster epic Goodfellas, playing a crook who falls in with the Italian-American mafia. Goodfellas was nominated for six Oscars and is considered a seminal crime film.

After a number of prominent movie roles in the 1990s, Liotta receded from the spotlight somewhat during the 2000s, though remained prolific.

In the 2010s, he garnered attention and acclaim for turns in films such as Killing Them Softly, The Place Beyond the Pines and 2019’s Marriage Story, in which he played a bullish divorce attorney.

The actor enjoyed an acclaimed career across four decades in the film industry (Getty)

Though he was known as a film actor, Liotta also worked in TV, appearing opposite Taron Egerton in the Apple TV+ series Black Bird, and had roles in Prime Video’s Hanna and in the NBC drama Shades of Blue.

Video game fans also knew Liotta as the voice of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City’s criminal protagonist Tommy Vercetti.

In 2021, Liotta was asked about the fact that he had never collaborated with Scorsese again after Goodfellas, despite the director’s penchant for re-using familiar actors in multiple movies.

“I’d love to [work with Scorsese again],” he said.

Liotta was signed onto a number of forthcoming projects, some of which are currently in post-production: a horror titled Cocaine Bear and a comedy written and directed by Charlie Day.

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