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Goodfellas actor Ray Liotta dies aged 67

Ray Liotta (David Parry/PA)
Ray Liotta (David Parry/PA)

Goodfellas star Ray Liotta has died at the age of 67, his representative has confirmed to the PA news agency.

His publicist Jennifer Allen, from Viewpoint, said the actor died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic, where he was filming his latest movie Dangerous Waters.

Liotta’s fiancee Jacy Nittolo was on location at the time of his death, Ms Allen said.

Liotta found fame playing ex-con Ray Sinclair in 1986 black comedy Something Wild, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination.

He went on to star as Shoeless Joe Jackson in the 1989 film Field Of Dreams and is best known for his portrayal of Henry Hill in Goodfellas opposite Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci and directed by Martin Scorsese.

Liotta was the adopted son of a town clerk and auto-parts shop owner, who insisted he never contemplated acting while growing up in Newark, New Jersey.

After graduating he moved to New York City and worked as a barman until he was cast in soap opera Another World in 1980.

After his role in Something Wild, Liotta resisted the countless psychopathic roles he was offered following the film’s success, and instead starred in the acclaimed drama Dominick And Eugene, about a complex relationship between twin brothers.

During the 1990s Liotta starred in Unlawful Entry, Cop Land and Corrina alongside Whoopi Goldberg.

In 2016 he told the PA news agency about regrets he had in the way he handled his career, including turning down the chance to audition for Tim Burton’s Batman movie.

“I wish I’d handled my career differently but, you know, hindsight…” he said at the time.

“When I did my first movie, Tim Burton was getting ready to do Batman and he was interested in me because he wanted it to be edgy and real. I thought, ‘Batman? That’s a stupid idea’, even though he had just done one of my favourite movies of all time, Beetlejuice. So yes, I regret not auditioning for that.”

He enjoyed a varied career, also appearing as Frank Sinatra in the 1998 TV movie The Rat Pack.

In 2004, Liotta made his Broadway debut in dramatic comedy Match and appeared on the big screen in comedies such as 2010’s Date Night and two Muppets movies, and dramas including 2012’s The Iceman and 2014’s Sin City: A Dame To Kill For.

Despite his immensely varied career, Henry Hill is still a character audiences continued to associate him with. But it was an association the actor did not mind, telling PA: “People ask if I’m bothered by that but no, Goodfellas will be a top 10 movie for years and years, it seems.

Ray Liotta
Ray Liotta (David Parry/PA)

“I have kids coming up to me like the movie’s just come out that week… That and Field Of Dreams. I get a lot of Field Of Dreams lovers too.”

In recent years Liotta appeared in Marriage Story and No Sudden Move and starred alongside Taron Egerton in the upcoming Apple TV series Black Bird.

He also starred in Sky’s Shades Of Blue, a crime drama set in New York which starred Jennifer Lopez as a detective and single mother of a teenage daughter who faces a difficult predicament when the FBI catches her in an incriminating position.

In 2021 Liotta starred in the Sopranos prequel movie The Many Saints Of Newark, after turning down a role in the original film.

He recently finished filming Cocaine Bear, a film directed by Elizabeth Banks which is scheduled to be released in February next year.

The New Jersey-born actor was also reportedly due to star in The Substance alongside Demi Moore and Margaret Qualley.

In addition to his acting roles, Liotta was also the narrator of documentary series The Making Of The Mob, and starred in a number of music videos including for David Guetta’s song Lovers On The Sun.

Liotta leaves behind his daughter Karsen, whom he shares with his ex-wife Michelle Grace, and his fiancee Nittolo.

Lorraine Bracco, who played Karen Friedman Hill in Goodfellas, said she was “shattered” to hear the “terrible news” about her former co-star.

Sharing a photo of them on Twitter, she added: “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.”

The producers of Dangerous Waters, the film which Liotta was working on at the time of his death, expressed their sadness following the news.

A statement on behalf of the producers said: “We were deeply saddened to learn of Ray’s passing, it’s a tremendous loss and our heartfelt condolences go out to his family, fiancee Jacy and daughter Karsen.”