Ray Liotta Dies: ‘Goodfellas’ Star & ‘Field Of Dreams’ Actor Was 67

A shocker. Ray Liotta, the terrific actor whose career breakout came in the 1990 Martin Scorsese crime classic Goodfellas after co-starring in Field of Dreams, has died. He was 67.

Deadline hears that Liotta died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic, where he was shooting the film Dangerous Waters. We will have more details when they become available.

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Liotta leaves behind a daughter, Karsen. He was engaged to be married to Jacy Nittolo.

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Liotta, second from right, in ‘The Many Saints of Newark’
Liotta, second from right, in ‘The Many Saints of Newark’

Liotta was on a big resurgence. Recent turns included The Many Saints of Newark, Marriage Story — for which he shared a 2020 ensemble Indie Spirit Award and Steven Soderbergh’s No Sudden Move. He finished the Elizabeth Banks-directed Cocaine Bear and was due to star in the Working Title film The Substance opposite Demi Moore and Margaret Qualley.

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He also recently was set to executive produce the A&E docuseries Five Families, about the dramatic rise and fall of the New York’s mafia’s Genovese, Gambino, Bonnano, Colombo and Lucchese families.

While better known for his big-screen roles, Liotta also starred with Taron Egerton in the Apple TV+ series Black Bird, recurred on Prime Video’s Hanna, fronted the 2006 CBS crime drama Smith and starred opposite Jennifer Lopez in the 2016-18 NBC police drama Shades of Blue.

Liotta won a Primetime Emmy in 2005 for his guest stint on ER and was a two-time SAG Award nominee for the 2015 miniseries Texas Rising and 1998 telefilm The Rat Pack, in which he starred as Frank Sinatra opposite Don Cheadle, Joe Mantegna and Angus Macfayden.

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Among his earliest screen roles playing nice guy Joey Perrini on the popular NBC soap Another World from 1978-81.

Liotta in ‘Field of Dreams’ - Credit: Everett Collection
Liotta in ‘Field of Dreams’ - Credit: Everett Collection

Everett Collection

He had his “Who’s thar?” turn in the Jonathan Demme-directed Something Wild (1987), scoring a Golden Globe nomination, and then played banned Chicago White Sox superstar Shoeless Joe Jackson opposite Kevin Costner and James Earl Jones in 1989’s Field of Dreams. Liotta then quickly followed playing gangster Henry Hill in Scorsese’s Goodfellas, opposite Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in what was to be the defining role of his career.

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The ruggedly handsome, blue-eyed Liotta was a perfect Henry Hill, narrating a tale of his growth into the organized-crime gang that pulled off the famous Lufthansa heist at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in 1978, making off with more than $5 million in cash and jewels stored in the German airline’s air cargo building. The film, which Nicholas Pileggi adapted with Scorsese from his book, was nominated for six Oscars, with Pesci getting its lone win.

Born on December 18, 1954, in Newark, NJ, Liotta studied acting at the University of Miami before landing his Another World role. He had bit parts in telefilms and guested on St. Elsewhere in 1983 before co-starring in Casablanca, a short-lived 1983 NBC prequel series to the classic movie. David Soul starred as Rick.

Liotta went on to play a cop in the mid-’80s ABC drama Our Family Honor before landing his first big movie role as Ray Sinclair in the romantic comedy Something Wild, starring Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels. He then starred as Eugene with Tom Hulce as Dominick in the 1988 drama Dominick and Eugene, also starring Jamie Lee Curtis.

That led to his two most famous roles.

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Liotta played a ghostly version of Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams, widely considered among Hollywood’s greatest baseball movies. His character was banned from baseball for life after the 1919 “Black Sox” scandal and gets a chance to play again when Ray Kinsella (Costner) is guided by voices to build a stadium in an Iowa cornfield. Directed by Phil Alden Robinson and co-starring Jones, Amy Madigan and Burt Lancaster in his final big-screen role, the film earned three Oscar nominations including Best Picture.

Then Scorsese came calling.

Pesci and Liotta in ‘Goodfellas’ - Credit: Everett Collection
Pesci and Liotta in ‘Goodfellas’ - Credit: Everett Collection

Everett Collection

Coming off 1988’s The Last Temptation of Christ, the filmmaker pivoted to the mob genre with Goodfellas and cast Liotta to star as Henry Hill. The pic was a critical and commercial success, landing six Oscar noms including Best Picture, with Pesci winning for Supporting Actor and Scorsese getting his third nomination for Best Director.

That signature role led to Liotta becoming a big-screen regular during the ’90s, when he would star in such films as Unlawful Entry, No Escape, Unforgettable, Turbulence, Operation Dumbo Drop, Cop Land and Corrina, Corrina.

He continued to be busy in the 2000s with roles in Ridley Scott’s Hannibal, the Silence of the Lambs sequel starring Anthony Hopkins; Ted Demme’s Blow, with Johnny Depp and Penelope Cruz; Narc, opposite Jason Patric; Nick Cassavetes’ John Q., starring Denzel Washington; James Mangold’s Identity, with John Cusack and Amanda Peet; and Joe Carnahan’s Smokin’ Aces, with Jeremy Piven and Ryan Reynolds; and as himself in Jerry Seinfeld’s animated Bee Movie; among other pics.

Liotta and Brad Pitt on the red carpet for ‘Killing Them Softly’ world premiere - Credit: Everett Collection
Liotta and Brad Pitt on the red carpet for ‘Killing Them Softly’ world premiere - Credit: Everett Collection

Everett Collection

His more recent silver-screen credits include Derek Cianfrance’s The Place Beyond the Pines, starring Ryan Gosling and Bradley Cooper; The Iceman, with Michael Shannon, Winona Ryder and Chris Evans; Killing Them Softly, opposite Brad Pitt, which premiered at Cannes; Judd Apatow’s Wanderlust; Shawn Levy’s Steve Carell-Tina Fey crime comedy Date Night; Observe and Report, opposite Seth Rogen; and the Frank Miller-Robert Rodriguez sequel Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.

Liotta also guested on such popular TV series as The Simpsons, SpongeBob SquarePants, Family Guy, Hannah Montana, Just Shoot Me! and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and narrated 2015 docuseries The Making of the Mob.

More recent career highlights for Liotta were playing the second lawyer of Adam Driver’s character in Netflix’s Marriage Story, which scored six Oscar nominations including Best Picture, and Sopranos prequel The Many Saints of Newark, co-starring as twin brothers “Hollywood Dick” Moltisanti and Salvatore “Sally” Moltisanti.

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