Ray Liotta, the actor who appeared in films such as "Goodfellas" and "Field of Dreams," has died, his publicist confirmed to NBC News. He was 67.
Liotta died in his sleep while in the Dominican Republic shooting a movie called "Dangerous Waters." His fiancée Jacy Nittolo was with him on the island during filming. Deadline was first to report the news.
"There was nothing suspicious about the death, and no foul play is suspected," his publicist said. He died Wednesday night and his body was taken to the Cristo Redentor morgue, according to an official at the Dominican Republic’s National Forensic Science Institute.
He is survived by his daughter, Karsen.
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Robert De Niro, his co-star in "Goodfellas" shared a statement, writing, “I was very saddened to learn of Ray’s passing. He is way too young to have left us. May he Rest in Peace.” Other co-stars tweeted tributes to the actor.
The Newark, New Jersey, native was born in 1954 and adopted at age six months out of an orphanage by a township clerk and an auto parts owner. Though he mostly grew up playing sports, including baseball, during his senior year of high school, the drama teacher at the school asked him if he wanted to be in a play, which he agreed to on a lark. And it stuck: He’d go on to study acting at the University of Miami. After graduation, he got his first big break on the soap opera “Another World.”
Liotta’s first big film role was in Jonathan Demme’s “Something Wild” as Melanie Griffith’s character’s hotheaded ex-convict husband Ray. The turn earned him a Golden Globe nomination. A few years later, he would get the memorable role of the ghost of Shoeless Joe Jackson in “Field of Dreams.”
His most iconic role, as real-life mobster Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas” came shortly after. He, and Scorsese, had to fight for it though, with multiple auditions and pleas to the studio to cast the still relative unknown.
“The thing about that movie, you know, Henry Hill isn’t that edgy of a character,” Liotta said in an interview in 2012. “It’s really the other guys who are doing all the actual killings. The one physical thing he does do, when he goes after the guy who went after Karen — you know, most audiences, they actually like him for that.”
In the same interview, he marveled at how “Goodfellas” had a “life of its own" and has only grown over time.
“People watch it over and over, and still respond to it, and different ages come up, even today, teenagers come up to me and they really emotionally connect to it,” he said.