Ray Liotta obituary: Field of Dreams and Goodfellas star dies aged 67

Ray Liotta, famed for his memorable role as Henry Hill in the acclaimed crime drama Goodfellas, has passed away at the age of 67.

Best known for his tough guy roles, the Emmy-winning actor died in his sleep while shooting his latest film Dangerous Waters.

Born in New Jersey, Liotta was abandoned at an orphanage as a baby before being adopted by an auto-parts store owner and township clerk.

Having studied acting at the University of Miami, he made his screen debut as Joey Perrini in 36 episodes of the NBC soap opera Another World (1978-81). That was then followed by appearances in the likes of Crazy Times (1981), and Casablanca (1983); a prequel series based on the iconic Oscar-winning film.

His first cinematic role came as Joe Heron in the critically-mauled romantic drama The Lonely Lady (1983) before returning to television as a policeman in the crime series Our Family Honor (1985). Shortly after, he earned praise for his turn as psychotic ex-convict Ray Sinclair in the dark comedy Something Wild (1986).

After appearing in the family drama Dominick and Eugene (1988), he then starred as disgraced baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson in the emotional fantasy drama Field of Dreams (1989). His character was best known for delivering the famous line, “If you build it, they will come.”

However, Liotta’s most acclaimed role came the following year when he took on the role of real-life hustler-turned-criminal Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning classic Goodfellas (1990). His performance became a hit with critics and audiences particularly for the character’s ruthless yet charismatic persona.

From then on, Liotta stayed active on screen during the 1990s with a number of films including Article 99 (1992), Unlawful Entry (1992), Operation Dumbo Drop (1995), Unforgettable (1996), Turbulence (1997), Cop Land (1997) and Muppets in Space (1998). He also received praise for his performance as legendary singer Frank Sinatra in the television film The Rat Pack (1998).

His work continued to flourish in the 2000s with notable roles in Hannibal (2001), Blow (2001), Narc (2002), John Q (2002), Identity (2003), Revolver (2005), Smokin’ Aces (2006), Wild Hogs (2007), Crossing Over (2009) and Observe and Report (2009). During that period, he won an Emmy for his guest appearance as dying patient Charlie Metcalf in the hit NBC drama ER (2005).

Away from film and television, he also contributed his voice to the likes of Family Guy (2001), Bee Movie (2007) and SpongeBob SquarePants (2008). However, his best known voice-work came as ex-convict Tommy Vercetti in the popular computer game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City (2004).

The last decade saw Liotta continue to actively work in the likes of Charlie St. Cloud (2010), Killing Them Softly (2012), The Iceman (2012), The Place Beyond the Pines (2012), Muppets Most Wanted (2014), Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014), and Marriage Story (2019).

He also enjoyed a lead role as corrupt lieutenant Matt Wozniak opposite Jennifer Lopez in the NBC crime series Shades of Blue (2016-18). Additionally, he also popped up in other small-screen shows including Texas Rising (2015), Modern Family (2016), Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (2017), The Simpsons (2018) and Hanna (2021).

Fittingly, Liotta’s last major project came with his dual roles as criminals ‘Hollywood Dick’ Moltisanti and Salvatore ‘Sally’ Moltisanti in the Sopranos prequel film The Many Saints of Newark (2021). One of his last posthumous roles is the upcoming mini-series Black Bird which is due for release later this year.

Liotta is survived by his fiancée Jacy Nittolo and daughter Karsen.

Be the first to comment on "Ray Liotta obituary: Field of Dreams and Goodfellas star dies aged 67"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.