R.I.P. Ray Liotta, star of Goodfellas and Field of Dreams
He started his career on Eighties TV before jumping to feature films.
Ray Liotta will forever be remembered as Henry Hill, the kid who grew up to be a gangster in Martin Scorsese’s iconic film Goodfellas. Liotta more than held his own alongside acting greats Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci, the latter winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Hill remained sympathetic, even as he made one bad decision after another – a testament to Liotta’s talent.
Though Goodfellas made Liotta a star, he had already proven his skill in late-Eighties movies like the heart-wrenching drama Dominick and Eugene (with Amadeus star Tom Hulce and Jamie Lee Curtis) and baseball classic Field of Dreams. Liotta played controversial Chicago White Sox player Shoeless Joe Jackson who brought Kevin Costner’s dreams to life in an Iowa cornfield.
Liotta got his start in Hollywood as Joey Perrini in the NBC soap opera Another World. He appeared in 36 episodes from 1978-1981. He then starred in the TV movie Crazy Times, about teenagers in Queens, New York, in 1955. The project capitalized on the Happy Days trend of nostalgia for drive-in, rock n roll culture of three decades earlier.
He also guest starred in a first-season episode of St. Elsewhere and won regular roles in two short-lived shows. The first, Casablanca, was a small-screen attempt at a prequel to the famous film which only lasted a few episodes. Liotta played Sacha with Starsky and Hutch’s David Soul as the Humphrey Bogart character Rick Blaine and Hector Elizondo as Captain Louis Renault.
Two years later, Liotta was cast in Our Family Honor, a modern Romeo and Juliet about a crime family and a family of cops whose children fall in love. Liotta played a police officer and friend of the law enforcement family.
Though he’s most famous as a gangster, Liotta played many roles on both sides of the law. He was Officer Pete Davis in the 1992 film Unlawful Entry and Arm Captain T.C. Doyle in 1995’s Operation Dumbo Drop. He was also in Nineties movies Corrina, Corrina, Unforgettable and Cop Land with Sylvester Stallone, Robert De Niro and Harvey Keitel.
In 2005, Liotta won an Emmy Award for his guest spot on ER. He would appear in both movies and shows for the rest of his career. He headlined the cop series Shades of Blue with Jennifer Lopez and appeared in films as varied as Killing Them Softly, Muppets Most Wanted and Marriage Story.
He will always be remembered for his incredible performances and iconic characters. He was 67.