From Goodfellas to Hollywood greats: As Ray Liotta dies at the age of 67, a look at what happened to his co-stars from the iconic mobster movie that made his career - from Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci to on-screen love Lorraine Bracco
- Ray Liotta, 67, the legendary mob actor from Goodfellas passed away in his sleep while filming in the Dominican Republic on Thursday - there is no suspicion of foul play
- It has been 32 years since Martin Scorsese's redefined the gangster genre with his seminal film that follows the life story of Henry Hill, a gangster-turned-FBI informant played by the late actor
- Since then, its star studded cast has grown in fame - Robert De Niro who played 'Jimmy Conway' in the film has gone on to finish nine feature films with Scorsese
- Lorraine Bracco, 67, who played Karen Hill, the long suffering mob wife, disavowed the mafia genre all together after Goodfellas, until she met critical acclaim with her role as Dr. Melfi in The Sopranos
- Joe Pesci, 79, known for the iconic scene where he delivers the 'What do you mean I'm funny?' speech, later explained that the entire segment was an improvisation
- Paul Sorvino, 83, who played Paulie Cicero, has led a diversified his career – as a poet, painter, sculptor and businessman that owns a cosmetic company that manufacturers an alternative to Botox
It's been 32 years since Martin Scorsese's seminal gangster film, Goodfellas opened to the adulation of critics and filmgoers alike. It's now considered a classic, counted by the American Film Institute as one of the country's top 100 films, and some argue that it is the single most influential gangster film ever made after The Godfather trilogy.
Based on a true story, Goodfellas is a foul-mouthed tale of the rise and fall of the three crooks over the course of 30 years. It tracks the life story of a Brooklyn youngster named Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta) who becomes enamored by the organized crime syndicate in his working class neighborhood with the help of two murderous mob associates Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci).
The genre-defining mob-caper portrayed wise guys as dapper psychopathic swells, over three decades: first in pompadour coifs and Cadillac convertibles, later in rayon suits and spearpoint collars, and later then, in prison jumpsuits.
Based on a true story, Goodfellas chronicles the rise and fall of the three crooks over the course of thirty years. It tracks the life story of a Brooklyn youngster named Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta, left) who becomes enamored by the organized crime syndicate in his working class neighborhood with the help of two murderous mob associates Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro, center) and Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci, right). They work for a local capo in the Lucchese crime family named Paulie Cicero (played by the actor Paul Sorvino, center right)
The film bursts into life thanks to its unforgettable ensemble of actors - the red hot center of which is Ray Liotta, 67, whose death this morning has shocked Hollywood and flooded social media with thousands of tributes by fans.
The other stars, Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci, Lorraine Bracco and Paul Sorvino have all gone on to critical acclaim, while scenes from the cinematic classic have become part of our cultural DNA, like Pesci's terrorizing, 'What do you mean I'm funny?' speech, and Bracco's 'You got some nerve standing me up!'
In the wake of the shocking news of Liotta's passing, DailyMail.com remembers the star-studded lineup below.
HENRY HILL PLAYED BY RAY LIOTTA
Ray Liotta's breakout role came in 1990 when he was cast as the real-life mobster, Henry Hill in Scorsese's mobster masterpiece, Goodfellas (left). Scorsese said he took the risk in casting the relatively unknown 34-year-old actor after he had the 'chutzpah' to approach his body guards at a film event. Liotta, (pictured, right in 218) passed away in bed at Casas del XVI in Zona Colonial on Thursday halfway through filming Dangerous Waters. There is understood to be no suspicion of foul play
Lorraine Bracco plays Karen Hill, the long-suffering mob wife Henry, who is seduced by his glamorous lifestyle, despite her Jewish parents' disapproval
The actor appeared to shy away from his fame in the 1990s and kept a low profile, acting in a few films such as Corrina, Corrina (1994) and Frank Sinatra in The Rat Pack (1999). He's made a professional comeback in recent years starring in The Many Saints of Newark, Marriage Story, (which won a Spirit Award), and Steven Soderbergh’s, No Sudden Move
Liotta was born in New Jersey in 1954 but was abandoned by his mother at an orphanage before being adopted six months later.
He was the adopted son of a town clerk and auto-parts shop owner, who insisted he never contemplated acting while growing up in Newark.
After graduating he moved to New York City and worked as a bartender until he was cast in soap opera Another World in 1980. He found fame playing ex-con Ray Sinclair in the 1986 black comedy Something Wild, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination, before staring as Shoeless Joe Jackson in the 1989 film Field Of Dreams.
But his career-defining moment came in 1990 when he was cast as the real-life mobster, Henry Hill in Scorsese's mobster masterpiece, Goodfellas.
Scorsese saw something special in the the small-time indie actor after he approached him at the Venice Film Festival in 1988. 'I had a lot of bodyguards around me. Ray approached me in the lobby and the bodyguards moved toward him, and he had an interesting way of reacting, which was he held his ground, but made them understand he was no threat. I liked his behavior at that moment,' the director told GQ in 2010.
Liotta's chutzpah paid off, with the director overruling his reluctant producers and casting the unheard-of 34-year-old in the lead.
The actor appeared to shy away from his fame in the 1990s and kept a low profile but made a resurgence in more recent years.
Asked why he never worked with Scorsese - a director renown for working with the same cast - again, he said: 'I don't know, you'd have to ask him. But I'd love to.'
Liotta married actress and producer Michelle Grace (pictured together in 2002) in February 1997 after they had met at a baseball game, where her former husband Mark Grace was playing for the Chicago Cubs
Liotta and his ex-wife were married from 1999 to 2004. They welcomed one daughter together, Karsen Liotta - who is now an actress herself. Liotta and Karsen are pictured left in 2004 and right in 2008
In March, the actor had been spotted out and about in LA in March where onlookers said he appeared 'noticeably pale' and 'needed help from the valet putting on his jacket'. The source added he was 'slow and steady on his feet' and needed help carrying all his bags from the car to the hotel
Liotta married actress and producer Michelle Grace in February 1997 after they had met at a baseball game, where her former husband Mark Grace was playing for the Chicago Cubs. They had a daughter together, Karsen, 23, before they divorced in 2004.
He had a minor run-in with the law in February 2007, when he was charged for driving under the influence after crashing his Cadillac Escalade into two parked vehicles in Pacific Palisades.
On an episode of Jay Leno's Garage, Liotta revealed that Frank Sinatra's daughters had once sent him a horse's head in the mail. (A tribute to the iconic scene in The Godfather). The joke was in response to the actor passing on playing their late father in a miniseries they were producing, only to have Liotta play him in the 1998 HBO television film, The Rat Pack.
But in recent years, Liotta was experiencing a second act in his professional life. Most notably in The Many Saints of Newark, Marriage Story, (which won a Spirit Award), and Steven Soderbergh's, No Sudden Move.
At his time of death, he was filming Dangerous Waters, alongside Demi Moore and Margaret Qualley in the Dominican Republic.
In March, the actor had been spotted out and about in LA in March where onlookers said he appeared 'noticeably pale' and 'needed help from the valet putting on his jacket'. The source added he was 'slow and steady on his feet' and needed help carrying all his bags from the car to the hotel.
But he looked healthier in pictures taken at the start of this month as he strolled through Pacific Palisades in Los Angeles with his fiancée, Jacy Nittolo, 46.
The legendary gangster actor passed away in bed at Casas del XVI in Zona Colonial on Thursday halfway through recording Dangerous Waters.
An emergency service team had rushed to the building but he could not be saved, with his body transferred to the forensic institute of Santo Domingo. There is understood to be no suspicion of foul play.
JIMMY 'THE GENT' CONWAY, PLAYED BY ROBERT DE NIRO
Perhaps the most illustrious members of the Goodfellas cast is Robert DeNiro, who has gone on to star in countless films and continued a forty-year collaboration with Scorsese, having starred in nine of his feature films
Scorsese and De Niro's history goes back to childhood when they grew up just a few streets apart from each other in Little Italy, New York. Though the two boys never met as teenagers, De Niro's reputation as 'Bobby Milk' ( because he was 'pale and strange as milk') in the Kenmare Street Gang preceded him. The two would eventually go on to create one of the finest runs in cinematic history ever seen, with their first collaboration beginning in 1973 with Mean Streets
De Niro has six children and has been married and divorced twice. Above, he is pictured with his second wife, Grace Hightower in 2017 whom requested a 50/50 split of his $500million fortune in their nasty divorce
By the time Robert De Niro, 78, starred as Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas, he had already developed his oeuvre as a cinematic gangster in The Godfather.
De Niro's plays the the half Italian, half-Irish streetsmart gangster who acts as a mentor of protagonist Henry Hill (Ray Liotta). He takes Hill under his wing as a fence, and molds him from an innocent neighborhood kid to a fearsome criminal. Because of their shared Irish lineage, both characters were unable to officially become 'made men' in the crime syndicates they work for.
Playing made men came by way of nature for the veteran actor, Robert De Niro, 78. Born and bred in New York City and raised on the streets of Little Italy - De Niro was a street urchin who hung around fellow toughs on Kenmare Street.
Incidentally, Goodfellas director, Martin Scorsese, also grew up in the same neighborhood just a few streets away. Though the two boys never met as teenagers, De Niro's reputation as 'Bobby Milk' ( because he was 'pale and strange as milk') in the Kenmare Street Gang preceded him.
The two would eventually go on to create one of the finest runs in cinematic history ever seen. Their first collaboration was, Mean Streets (1973), in which De Niro also played a tough-talking gangster.
By the time De Niro filmed Goodfellas, he had already won two Academy Awards for his parts in Scorsese's Raging Bull (1980) and for his seminal performance as Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola's The Godfather II.
Over the course of 40 years, De Niro stared in nine Scorsese features including Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy, Casino, The Irishman, and the forthcoming film, Killers of the Flower Moon.
De Niro has six children and has been married and divorced twice.
KAREN FRIEDMAN (HENRY HILL'S WIFE) PLAYED BY LORRAINE BRACCO
Lorraine Bracco (left) stole every scene with her portrayal of Karen Friedman Hill, the unsuspecting Jewish girl who married into the Mob via Henry Hill. The actress (pictured in 2022) later admitted that she had never seen her own performance in Goodfellas until 2016 at a drive-in theatre
'After Goodfellas, I was offered every Mafia gal, girl, wife, mistress, daughter available. And I said to them, 'No, I don't want to do that. I did it. Can't do it better,' Bracco told Vanity Fair in 2012
Despite her vowed rejection of the mob genre, Bracco auditioned for the role of 'Dr. Melfi,' Tony Soprano's therapist in David Chase's seminal gangster television series
Born in New York City in 1954, Lorraine Bracco is known for her distinct husky voice and Brooklyn accent. She is the daughter of an Italian father who worked at the Fulton Fish Market, and his British war bride.
She began her career modeling for Wilhelmina in France during the 1970s, appeared in a few Italian language films and worked a disc jockey for Radio Luxemburg.
She stole every scene with her portrayal of Karen Friedman Hill, the unsuspecting Jewish girl who married into the Mob via Henry Hill.
Bracco later admitted that she never watched her groundbreaking performance in the film until 25 year later when it was screening at a drive in movie theatre.
'After Goodfellas, I was offered every Mafia gal, girl, wife, mistress, daughter available. And I said to them, 'No, I don't want to do that. I did it. Can't do it better,' she told Vanity Fair in 2012.
As a result, Bracco's roles immediately following the Scorsese classic were quite different from the Mob wife part that made her a breakout star. She followed Goodfellas up with Medicine Man (1992), starring as a doctor opposite Sean Connery, and later played an assistant district attorney in Getting Gotti (1994) — putting her firmly on the opposite side of the law as the Mafia.
She declined the part as Catwoman in Tim Burton's 1998, Batman Returns.
One year later, despite her vowed rejection of the mob genre, Bracco auditioned for the role as Tony Soprano's therapist. 'Dr. Melfi,' in David Chase's seminal gangster television series.
Bracco has one daughter, Margaux (who plays one of her daughters in Goodfellas), from her first marriage to the French actor, Daniel Guerard.
After her divorce, Bracco began a 12-year-long relationship with a cinematic fellow-mafioso, Harvey Kietel. They share a daughter, named Stella, who was the center of a salacious custody battle that revealed allegations of drug use, depression and violence. Bracco was hit with $2 million in legal feels.
Bracco's second marriage in was to actor Edward James Olmos in 1994, they divorced in 2002.
Most recently, Bracco starred in a 2020 HGTV television series, My Big Italian Adventure, that chronicled her renovation of a 200-year-old house she purchased for 1 euro.
Bracco led the tributes for her Goodfellas co-star after learning of his death. 'I am utterly shattered to hear this terrible news about my Ray,' she said.
'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.'
TOMMY DE VITO PLAYED BY JOE PESCI
Playing a made man came easy to Joe Pesci (left) who played the braggadocios 'Tommy DeVito' in Goodfellas. DeVito is based off a real mobster named Tommy DeSimone, who was a member of the Lucchese crime family and is alleged to have participated in the 1967 Air France robbery and the 1978 Lufthansa heist, which is featured in the film. DeSimone went missing in 1979, and it is assumed he was murdered
Pesci 79, began his career in New York City's music scene, having been teenage friends with Franki Valli and the singer (not mobster) Tommy DeVito. He is credited with the founding of The Four Seasons. He dabbled in comedy before Scorsese called him to star in Raging Bull in 1980 and later again in Goodfellas. He has since revived his collaboration with the director and De Niro in other gangster films such as Casino and The Irishman
Pesci is also beloved for playing a crook in the 1990 film classic, Home Alone
Joe Pesci (left) in Scorsese's 2019 film, The Irishman
Joe Pesci was born on February 9, 1943, in Newark, New Jersey to a mother who worked as a part-time barber and a father who was a bartender and forklift operator for General Motors.
He began acting in plays in New York when he was five years old. At age 10, he was a regular on a television variety show called Startime Kids, which also featured Connie Francis.
As a teenagers, Pesci became friends with the Italian-American singers Franki Valli and Tommy DeVito. He introduced them to Bob Gaudio when he was 16, which led to the formation of The Four Seasons.
Pesci worked as a barber while trying to start a musical career. He started a few pop groups that met with minor success before he joined comedy in insult-laden acts with Don Rickles.
He started in one low budget film called The Death Collector in 1976, but returned to The Bronx where he worked and lived above an Amici's Restaurant.
His career changed in 1980 when Martin Scorsese called to cast him as Joey LaMotta in Raging Bull, starring alongside Robert De Niro. Pesci was later nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
The fast-talking wise crack reunited with Scorsese in 1990 for Goodfellas, which he played mobster Tommy DeVito, based on real-life mobster Thomas DeSimone.
In the film, Pesci is responsible for delivering one of the most memorable lines in cinematic history when he mouths off to Liotta's character: 'What do you mean I'm funny? What am I, a clown? Am I here to f---in' amuse you?'
Apparently the iconic scene had been completely improvised. Inspired by a tense standoff he had with a gangster when he was young and working as a waiter at a restaurant. He thought he was paying his customer a compliment when he called him 'funny,' but the comment wasn't taken well.
For his part in Goodfellas, Pesci was nominated for a Golden Globe and won his first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. He accepted the award with one of the shortest speeches in Oscar history, simply saying: 'It's my privilege. Thank you.'
Pesci has become an American film standard playing made men. He played opposite of De Niro in A Bronx Tale (1993) and joined up with Scorsese again in Casino (1995) and again in The Irishman (2019).
In 1999, Pesci announced his retirement from acting to pursue a musical career and to enjoy life away from the camera, but did a cameo for De Niro's film, The Good Shepherd (2006) and starred in the brothel drama alongside Helen Mirren in Love Ranch (2010).
The actor has been married and divorced three times. He has one daughter from his first marriage.
PAULIE CICERO, PLAYED BY PAUL SORVINO
Paul Sorvino, 83, played the part of Paulie Cicero, a caporegime in the Lucchese crime family. Since then, he has led a diversified career as an actor, singer, painter, poet, and accomplished sculptor. He is also the father of actress Mira Sorvino
Paul Sorvino, 83, was raised in the Italian neighborhood of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn by a homemaker mother and a father who worked as factory foreman.
He began his career as a copywriter in an advertising agency, while taking voice lessons while attending the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. He had taken 18 years of voice lessons, when he decided to devote his life to theatre.
Sorvino bounced around Broadway before he landed a role playing an Italian-American Communist in Warren Beatty's 1981 film, Reds.
His most notable role was playing the part of Paulie Cicero, the caporegime in Scorsese's, Goodfellas. Cicero was based off a real-life mobster named Paul Vario, that was involved in the 1976 Lufthansa heist featured in the film.
Sorvino was nominated for a SAG award, playing Henry Kissinger in the 1995 movie, Nixon. Since then, he has played countless bit roles, as the quiet and stern made man.
He is also an accomplished sculptor, specializing in cast bronze. In an April 2014 interview, Sorvino said, 'Most people think I’m either a gangster or a cop or something, but the reality is I’m a sculptor, a painter, a best-selling author, many, many things – a poet, an opera singer, but none of them is gangster.'
'Obviously I sort of have a knack for playing these things. It’s almost my later goal in life to disabuse people of the notion that I’m a slow-moving, heavy-lidded thug.'
In 2007, Sorvino launched Paul Sorvino Foods to market a range of pasta sauces. Based on his mother's recipe, the product appeared in supermarkets in the northeastern United States in late 2009.
Three years later, Sorvino became part owner in Janson-Beckett Cosmeceuticals. Janson-Beckett is best known for their top selling BOTOX alternative.
Sorvino's legacy on the film screen has been eclipsed by his famous daughter, Mira Sorvino, whose starred in Romy and Michele's High School Reunion.
He has two other children from his first marriage to Lorraine Davis and is currently wedded to the political pundit, Dee Dee Benkie.
In recent years, Sorvino has been outspoken against Harvey Weinstein, who he called a 'son of a b****.'
'Good for him if he goes, because if not, he has to meet me. And I will kill the m**********r. Real simple. If I had known it, he would not be walking. He'd be in a wheelchair. This pig will get his comeuppance. The law will get him. He's going to go to jail and die in jail.'