New York Ray Liotta, the actor best known for his role in the mob classic “Goodfellas,” has passed away.
The 67-year-old New Jersey native died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic, where he was working on a new movie.
As CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported Thursday, the Union High School graduate didn’t exactly plan to break into Hollywood.
He was the jubilant star of one of the greatest mob movies of all time. Ray Liotta played Henry Hill in the ’90s classic “Goodfellas,” with some of the movie’s most iconic scenes on the big screen.
A year ago, Liotta made quite an impression as a literal baseball ghost, playing Shoeless Joe Jackson in “Field of Dreams.”
He began his life in soap operas, appearing in the movie “Another World”, and was not really interested in acting.
“Do you think you’ll do this now?” I asked CBS2’s Marie Calvey for Utah in 2006.
“Never. I had no idea. I played sports all the time. I quit basketball my senior year and was in high school play, and it was a horrible experience. I hated it,” Liotta said.
Liotta told Calvey that one moment changed everything for him.
“This cute girl said ‘Are you going to try the play tonight,'” and I said no. She said ‘Well, why are you doing this.’ It’s all about the play. “So I auditioned and got it, and I was a bartender at a cabaret.”
Liotta was born in December. 18, 1954 in Newark and raised in Union. He’s even in the Union High School Hall of Fame.
In the early ’90s, it seemed like Liotta was headed for stardom, but Hollywood was planning to twist the plot.
“He was riding high after Goodfellas and just got down,” entertainment critic Johnny Oleksinski told the New York Post.
Oleksinski said Liotta didn’t want to make more mob movies.
“He made terrible choices,” Oleksinski said. “Look at Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Lauren Bracco, their careers have gone up and higher.
Recently, Liotta starred in “The Many Saints of Newark”, a prequel to the movie “The Sopranos”.
Liotta may have looked as normal as the tough guy in the movie, but he was far from that in real life.
“I’ve only had one fight in my life, and that was in seventh grade. It’s funny, my friends, they see me play with these bad guys, people constantly say, and they laugh. Because that’s just not me,” Liotta told Calvey.
The Newark kid who has now climbed the heights of Hollywood leaves behind a touch of movie magic.
“I am absolutely devastated to hear this terrible news about Ray. I could be anywhere in the world and people would come and tell me their favorite movie is Goodfellas. Then they would always ask what was the best part about making that movie.. and my response was always the same.. Ray Liotta wrote, “Actress Lauren Bracco, fellow ‘Goodfellas’, wrote on Instagram.
“Ray Liotta has been an absolute legend in film and television – a Primetime Emmy Award winner and domiciled in Newark, NJ. His work on screen has impacted the lives of so many. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and many fans,” the New Jersey Government. Phil Murphy wrote on Twitter.
“It was very sad when I learned of Ray’s passing,” De Niro said. “He is too young to leave us. I hope he rests in peace.”
“Ray was my partner in crime in Shades of Blue… The first thing that comes to mind is [was so] Nice with my kids. Ray was the epitome of a tough guy who was mushy on the inside…I think that’s what made him a compelling actor to watch,” Jennifer Lopez wrote on Twitter.
“Not Ray,” actor James Caan wrote on Twitter.