Ray Liotta has died. He was a blue-eyed actor, best known for his roles as Henry Hill, a mobster in "Goodfellas", and Shoeless Joe Jackson, a baseball player in "Field of Dreams." He was 67.
Jen Allen, Liotta’s publicist, stated that he was in Dominican Republic filming a new movie, and didn't awaken Thursday morning. According to police in the Dominican Republic, they received a call at 6 a.m. on Thursday from a hotel where Liotta was being stayed with his fiancee. They found the actor dead.
Robert De Niro, who starred alongside Liotta on "Goodfellas," stated in an email statement that he was "very saddened" to hear about Ray's death. He is too young to have gone.
Lorraine Bracco, who played Henry’s wife Karen Hill on "Goodfellas", tweeted Thursday that she could be anywhere in the world and people would come up to her to tell me their favorite Goodfellas movie. They then ask me what the best thing about making that movie. My answer has always been Ray Liotta.
Alessandro Nivola, who appeared with him recently in "The Sopranos," prequel "The Many Saints of Newark," also grieved Liotta. Chase was also the film's producer and writer. Nivola described Liotta as "dangerous", unpredictable, hilarious, generous with his praises for other actors" and Chase stated in a statement, "We all felt lucky to have him on that film."
Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1954, the native of Newark was adopted at six months by an auto parts manufacturer and a township clerk. Liotta assumed that he was mostly Italian, as did the movies. Later in his life, while looking for his parents' birth parents, he found out he was actually Scottish.
He grew up playing baseball and was a keen sportsman. However, his drama teacher asked him if it would be a good idea to play in a play. It planted a seed. He didn't know it at the time but he assumed he would end up in construction. Later, at the University of Miami, he chose drama and acting due to their lack of a math requirement. In interviews, he would often claim that auditioning for plays was something he did because a pretty woman told him. It set him on the right path. He was soon signed up for an agent after graduation and landed his first major break on "Another World."
He would need to wait a while before he could land his first major movie role. In Jonathan Demme's "Something Wild", he played Ray, Melanie Griffith's ex-convict husband. At the time, he was just 30 and hadn't held a steady job for five years. He told The Associated Press in 1993 that he wanted the job on his merits, even though he knew Griffith. He "phoned Melanie" when that didn't work.
"I hated it because that's political for me; calling someone else to help you out. He said that he has come to terms with the fact that it is part of what it all boils down to.
He was nominated for a Golden Globe. He would play the role of Shoeless Joe Jackson's ghost in "Field of Dreams" a few years later. It was a moving film that brought many to tears. But it didn't come without criticisms. Liotta recalled hearing a baseball announcer complain about Joe Jackson's bat swing.