Actor Ray Liotta, best known for playing Henry Hill in the New York City-set mob flick “Goodfellas,” has died at age 67.
The Newark, New Jersey, native died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic, where he was shooting his new movie, “Dangerous Waters,” his publicist confirmed to the Daily News Thursday.
His fiancee, Jacy Nittolo, was with him at the time.
“I was very saddened to learn of Ray’s passing,” Robert De Niro, who starred alongside Liotta in “Goodfellas,” told the Daily News Thursday. “He is way too way young to have left us. May he rest in peace.”
Joe Pesci, who also starred in the film, told The News, “God is a Goodfella and so is Ray.”
The iconic actor, who has appeared on the big screen for decades, also played Shoeless Joe Jackson in “Field of Dreams.” More recently, he appeared in the 2019 Netflix movie “Marriage Story” and the “Sopranos” prequel series “Many Saints of Newark.”
Liotta first turned heads in the Jonathan Demme-directed “Something Wild,” which earned him a Golden Globe nomination. But it was his turn as the ruggedly handsome Henry Hill in “Goodfellas,” narrating the rise and fall of a Brooklyn mob family that pulled off a $6 million heist from the Lufthansa vault at JFK Airport in 1978, that made him a star.
“It’s nice that the movie still lives on in people’s minds,” Liotta told the Daily News of “Goodfellas” in 2020, the 30th anniversary of the mob classic. “It seems like it’s one that’s going to keep on going.”
“Goodfellas,” directed by Martin Scorsese, racked up six Oscar nominations, with co-star Joe Pesci taking him the trophy for best supporting actor. The movie also starred De Niro and Lorraine Bracco as Henry Hill’s wife.
“I am utterly shattered to hear this terrible news about my Ray,” Bracco tweeted. “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.”
“Field of Dreams,” the Kevin Costner-starring flick about a farmer who builds a baseball field in his backyard to attract ghosts of MLB’s past, is widely regarded as one of the best sports movies. Liotta played Shoeless Joe Jackson, who brings his Chicago Black Sox teammates out for one more ball game.
Liotta’s current project, “Dangerous Waters,” co-stars Odeya Rush, Eric Dane and Saffron Burrows in the story of a “sailing holiday that spirals out of control when a teenage daughter (Rush) uncovers the dark past of her mother’s new boyfriend.”
He also recently wrapped the Elizabeth Banks-directed “Cocaine Bear,” inspired by the true story of an American black bear that ingested a duffel bag full of cocaine in 1985. The movie, co-starring Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Margo Martindale, is due out in February.
In 2005, he won a Primetime Emmy Award for a guest role on the NBC medical drama “ER” as an alcoholic ex-con trying to make amends with his estranged son while the doctors try to save his life.
“The Many Saints of Newark,” released in 2021, gave Liotta another mob role — actually two, twin brothers “Hollywood Dick” Moltisanti and Salvatore “Sally” Moltisanti.
“This is a massive, unexpected shock,” David Chase, creator of “The Sopranos” and screenwriter/producer of “Many Saints,” told The News. “I have been an admirer of Ray’s work since I saw him in ‘Something Wild,’ a movie he wrenched by the tail. I was so glad he worked on ‘The Many Saints of Newark.’
“I believed strongly in my heart that he could play that double role. He created two distinctly separate characters and each performance was phenomenal. Ray was also a very warm and humorous person. A really superior actor. We all felt we lucked out having him on that movie.”
Another big Liotta fan was Jennifer Lopez, who starred with him on the NBC cop drama “Shades of Blue” from 2016-18.
“Ray was my partner in crime on Shades of Blue … the first thing that comes to mind is he was so kind to my children,” Lopez wrote on Instagram, sharing photos of the two together. “Ray was the epitome of a tough guy who was all mushy on the inside … I guess that’s what made him such a compelling actor to watch.”
Liotta is survived by his daughter, Karen, and his fiancee.
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