LOS ANGELES: Actor Ray Liotta, who starred in Martin Scorsese’s gangster classic “Goodfellas,” has died in the Dominican Republic, the country’s cinema authority said Thursday. He was 67.
Liotta, whose blistering turn as real-life mobster Henry Hill in Scorsese’s crime masterpiece won universal admiration, was shooting a new film in the country when he died, a spokeswoman for the Dominican Republic’s General Direction of Cinema said.
“We understand that he was accompanied by his (fiancee) and that the (fiancee) asks that you please respect her grief,” the spokeswoman told AFP.
Liotta’s publicist in Los Angeles confirmed his death, saying the actor died in his sleep and that there were no suspicious circumstances.
He was working on a movie called “Dangerous Waters” at the time of his death.
Liotta’s breakout came in 1990 when he was cast alongside Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in what is widely considered one of the greatest films of the 20th century.
“Goodfellas” won one Oscar, and was nominated for five others, and scenes from the movie continue to resonate as cultural touchstones more than three decades later.
A year before “Goodfellas,” Liotta had played baseball star “Shoeless Joe” Jackson in beloved sports movie “Field of Dreams,” opposite Kevin Costner.
The film was nominated for three Oscars, including best picture.
Tributes began to be paid soon after news of Liotta’s death broke, with “Goodfellas” co-star Lorraine Bracco, who played his on-screen wife, Karen, saying she was “utterly shattered to hear this terrible news.”
“I can be anywhere in the world & people will come up & tell me their favorite movie is Goodfellas,” she tweeted.
“Then they always ask what was the best part of making that movie. My response has always been the same… Ray Liotta.”
Despite branching out to show his breadth as an actor, Liotta had recently returned to the world of mob films, with roles in Steven Soderbergh’s “No Sudden Move” and “The Sopranos” prequel “The Many Saints of Newark.”
Liotta was born in Newark, on the US East Coast, in December 1954.
Variety reported he was left at an orphanage at birth and adopted when he was six months old.
At the University of Miami he performed in musicals, and after graduating landed a role in a soap opera that would provide him with three years’ work to 1981.
His first movie came in 1983, but it wasn’t until 1986’s “Something Wild” opposite Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels that he came to wider attention.
The comedy-action-romance was screened at Cannes and scored Liotta a Golden Globe nomination for supporting actor.
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