Ray Liotta, actor who played roles in 'Goodfellas' and 'Field of Dreams,' dies at 67

The Newark, New Jersey-born actor's career stretches 44 years. He was lauded for his film debut in 1986's 'Something Wild.'

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Thursday, May 26, 2022
'Goodfellas' and 'Field of Dreams' actor Ray Liotta dies at 67
Ray Liotta, the actor best known for playing Henry Hill in "Goodfellas" and Shoeless Joe Jackson in "Field of Dreams," died Thursday at 67.

Ray Liotta, the actor best known for his iconic portrayals of Henry Hill in "Goodfellas" and Shoeless Joe Jackson in "Field of Dreams," has died.

"Ray was working on a project in the Dominican Republic called 'Dangerous Waters' when he passed. He passed in his sleep," publicist Jennifer Allen wrote in a statement to CNN. "He is survived by his daughter, Karsen, and his fiancée, Jacy Nittolo."

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Liotta's career spanned 44 years, starting with a role in the television soap opera "Another World." He garnered praise for his breakthrough role in the film "Something Wild," an action romantic comedy that earned him his first Golden Globe nomination.

But it was roles in two movies in back-to-back years that cemented his standing in Hollywood: the Kevin Costner-led "Field of Dreams" in 1989 and Martin Scorcese's mob drama "Goodfellas" in 1990.

In "Field of Dreams," Liotta portrayed Shoeless Joe Jackson who appears as a ghost. Even though the movie tells a sports fantasy story, Jackson in real life was one of the faces of the 1919 Black Sox scandal that involved game-fixing during the World Series by the Chicago White Sox.

"Goodfellas" put Liotta's voice to work. As the film's protagonist, Liotta, as Hill, narrated the story's 25-year biographical arc that follows the protagonist's rise within a New York City mob to his downfall and transition as an FBI informant.

Liotta went on to star in other notable films, some commonly of the crime genre, such as "Cop Land," "Blow," "Narc," "Smokin' Aces," and "The Place Beyond the Pines."

Most recently, he took on supporting roles in "Marriage Story" and "The Many Saints of Newark," a prequel film to "The Sopranos."

Liotta was 67.

Co-stars pay tribute

Robert De Niro, who co-starred with Liotta in "Goodfellas," said in an emailed statement: "I was very saddened to learn of Ray's passing. He is way too way young to have left us. May he Rest in Peace."

Lorraine Bracco, who played Karen Hill in "Goodfellas" tweeted Thursday that she was, "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."

Alessandro Nivola, who recently appeared with Liotta in "The Sopranos" prequel film "The Many Saints of Newark" wrote, "I feel so lucky to have squared off against this legend in one of his final roles. The scenes we did together were among the all time highlights of my acting career. He was dangerous, unpredictable, hilarious, and generous with his praise for other actors. Too soon."

David Chase, who wrote and produced "The Many Saints of Newark," said in a statement that his passing was a "massive, unexpected shock."

"I have been an admirer of Ray's work since I saw him in 'Something Wild,' a movie he wrenched by the tail," the "Sopranos" creator wrote. "I was so glad he worked on 'The Many Saints of Newark.' I believed strongly in my heart that he could play that double role. He created two distinctly separate characters and each performance was phenomenal. Ray was also a very warm and humorous person. A really superior actor. We all felt we lucked out having him on that movie."

Seth Rogen, who Liotta acted with in the 2009 comedy "Observe and Report" tweeted, "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."

The Associated Press and CNN contributed to this report.