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This Is The Real Life Mobster Ray Liotta's Goodfellas Character Was Based On

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This Is The Real Life Mobster Ray Liotta's Goodfellas Character Was Based On

Ray Liotta will be best remembered for his role in Martin Scorsese’s iconic gangster movie, Goodfellas.

Released in 1990, Liotta - who died aged 67 on Thursday (26 May) - played mobster Henry Hill, who was a real person. 

Liotta previously revealed that after completing Goodfellas, he actually met Hill for a bite to eat and was surprised by what he had to say.

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Ray Liotta will be best remembered for his role in Goodfellas. Credit: Alamy
Ray Liotta will be best remembered for his role in Goodfellas. Credit: Alamy

Hill himself died in 2012 and between 1955 and 1980 was associated with NYC’s Lucchese crime family before going on to become an FBI informant. 

Hill’s snitching resulted in 50 convictions including that of made mafia member Paul Vario and his associate James Burke.

During his time in the Lucchese crime family, Hill was part of 1978’s infamous Lufthansa heist, when $5.875 million was stolen from the Lufthansa cargo terminal at Kennedy airport.

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Hill also participated in the 1978–79 Boston College basketball point shaving scandal, joining forces with two Pittsburgh gamblers to encourage teammates to participate in the swindling. 

He died in LA in 2012 of heart disease following a long illness. Hill’s death came a day after his 69th birthday on 12 June.

Speaking to the New York Post in 2020, Liotta said he was contacted by Hill, who said he’d ‘love to sit down and talk’.

Henry Hill was a real life mobster. Credit: Alamy
Henry Hill was a real life mobster. Credit: Alamy
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When the pair met at Jerry’s Deli in LA, Hill said to Liotta: “Thanks for not making me look like a scumbag!”

Liotta told the outlet he was confused, saying: “I said, ‘Serious? Did you see the movie? You cheated on your wife, you were dealing drugs when your crew told you not to’.”

He added: “I wondered what made him think that he wasn’t. It was an interesting perspective that people have of themselves.”

Liotta also revealed in the interview that Scorsese didn’t want him to meet with Hill before filming. 

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“I didn’t care one way or the other. I think he was afraid [that] maybe he’ll change the story or manipulate things [...] I didn’t talk to him at all, and I didn’t feel the need to because of listening to the tapes that Nick gave me of Henry being interviewed for the book.”

Liotta was referring to a book by Goodfellas co-writer Nick Pileggi. Pileggi’s 1985 non-fiction book Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family chronicled the life of Hill. 

Liotta died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic where he was filming Dangerous Waters on 26 May, leaving behind his daughter, Karsen, and fiancee Jacy Nittolo, who he got engaged to in 2020.

If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected] 

Featured Image Credit: Warner Bros / On the Run: A Mafia Childhood

Topics: Film & TV, Film and TV, True crime

Aisha Nozari
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