Some sad and surprising news to report on today: Ray Liotta, the highly acclaimed actor whose many credits include classics such as Goodfellas and Field of Dreams, has died at age 67.
Liotta’s publicist confirmed the news of his passing, revealing that he died in his sleep whilst in the Dominican Republic. Liotta had been in the Caribbean nation filming a thriller titled Dangerous Waters, also starring Saffron Burrows.
Liotta leaves behind a daughter, Karsen, and his fiancée, Jacy Nittolo.
Born in Newark in 1954, Liotta spent his first 6 months in an orphanage before being adopted by Mary and Alfred Liotta. With a passion for performance and acting in his blood from a young age, Liotta went on to study acting at the University of Miami and would appear in stage musicals such as Sound of Music and Cabaret. His first screen appearances were on the small screen, including two made-for-TV films and a recurring role in the soap Another World, where he would play Joey Perrini from 1978 to 1981. He also has a role in a short-lived Casablanca series in 1983.
Liotta’s first feature was 1983 drama The Lonely Lady and, following some other titles, he went on to a co-lead role in 1988 drama Dominick and Eugene, opposite Tom Hulce. From there, he was off and running. In 1989 he would play legendary baseball player Shoeless Joe Jackson in the Kevin Costner classic, Field of Dreams. The following year, in 1990, Martin Scorsese directed him in his lead role of Henry Hill in the gangster drama Goodfellas, which would become a cinematic classic and one of Liotta’s biggest films.
Liotta put in a lot of work over the years; his IMDb list of credits tops over 120 titles. Among his many films: No Escape, Corrina Corrina, Turbulence, Cop Land, Hannibal, Narc, John Q, Identity, Revolver, Smokin’ Aces, The Place Beyond the Pines, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For, Marriage Story, and The Many Saints of Newark. Liotta also had an extensive list of television credits, among them: Our Family Honor, ER (which earned him a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actor), The Making of the Mob (a docuseries he narrated), Shades of Blue, and Hanna.
There remain a few Liotta projects in the pipeline – a number of which he had finished filming. They include Apple TV+ series The Falcon’s Tale (also starring Taron Egerton), Charlie Day-directed and starring comedy El Tonto (with Kate Beckinsale and Jason Sudeikis), and Elizabeth Banks-directed thriller Cocaine Bear (with Keri Russell and O’Shea Jackson Jr.).
Tributes and reactions are pouring out following the news of Liotta’s passing. Here is just some of what’s being said…
“I’m absolutely shocked and devastated by the sudden, unexpected death of Ray Liotta. He was so uniquely gifted, so adventurous, so courageous as an actor. Playing Henry Hill in Good Fellas was a tall order, because the character had so many different facets, so many complicated layers, and Ray was in almost every scene of a long, tough shoot. He absolutely amazed me, and I’ll always be proud of the work we did together on that picture. My heart goes out to his loved ones, and it aches for his loss, way too early.”
Robert De Niro:
“I was very saddened to learn of Ray’s passing. He is way too young to have left us.”
Devastated to hear the news of Ray Liotta’s passing. While he leaves an incredible legacy, he’ll always be “Shoeless Joe Jackson” in my heart. What happened that moment in the film was real. God gave us that stunt. Now God has Ray. pic.twitter.com/JQmk1PsuSK
— Kevin Costner & MW (@modernwest) May 26, 2022
Lorraine Bracco, who played Henry Hill’s wife, Karen Hill, in Goodfellas:
I am utterly shattered to hear this terrible news about my Ray.
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. pic.twitter.com/3gNjJFTAne
— Lorraine Bracco (@Lorraine_Bracco) May 26, 2022
Jennifer Lopez, Ray Liotta’s co-star on Shades of Blue:
View this post on Instagram
I can’t believe Ray Liotta has passed away. He was such a lovely, talented and hilarious person. Working with him was one of the great joys of my career and we made some of my favorite scenes I ever got to be in. A true legend of immense skill and grace.
— Seth Rogen (@Sethrogen) May 26, 2022
Jamie Lee Curtis:
Ray Liotta has died. His work as an actor showed his complexity as a human being. A gentle man. So sad to hear.
— Jamie Lee Curtis (@jamieleecurtis) May 26, 2022
Very sad to hear the news this morning about the passing of #RayLiotta. An extraordinary talent whose remarkable performances left an indelible mark on the screen. Our deepest condolences to his family. RIP Ray 🙏 https://t.co/WQSlkozT3A
— Cary Elwes (@Cary_Elwes) May 26, 2022
Director James Mangold, who directed Liotta in Cop Land and Identity:
Shocked and saddened to hear of Ray Liotta’s passing. Beyond the tough guy exterior and the tightly wound emotions of his signature characters, he was a sweet, playful and passionate collaborator and brilliant actor. RIP. pic.twitter.com/O5tueLlBMP
— Mangold (@mang0ld) May 26, 2022
Although its been years since we worked together, each time we crossed each other’s paths, you were always sincere, kind, gracious, and a loving gentleman. You will be sorely missed, Ray Liotta. Fly with the Angels you insanely talented human being. You touched my life. pic.twitter.com/0tACq6gVdi
— Giancarlo Esposito (@quiethandfilms) May 26, 2022
Too sad to conceive that Ray Liotta has passed. If he’d only made Goodfellas, it would be a credit to retire on. But he was incredible in Cop Land, Narc, Marriage Story & much more, especially his searing debut in Something Wild. His entrance at the end of this scene? Perfection. pic.twitter.com/0IhbRuKx2b
— edgarwright (@edgarwright) May 26, 2022