Despite many of his roles being tough and often extremely violent characters Ray Liotta would be the first to admit that he’d never been in a fight in his life. Yet his two defining roles in Something Wild and Goodfellas had many convinced he was the real deal.
Born on 18th December 1954 in New Jersey Raymond Allen Liotta was abandoned at an orphanage at only six months of age. He wouldn’t meet his birth mother until he was in his mid-forties. He attended Union High School and graduated from the University of Miami, where he studied acting, in 1978. That same year, he landed the role of Joey Perrini on NBC soap ‘Another World’ where he remained until 1981 eventually moving out to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career. Liotta’s first film role came in 1983’s The Lonely Lady starring Pia Zadora.
But it was in 1986’s Something Wild that he caught the attention of film goers as a psychotic ex-boyfriend of Melanie Griffith in the late Jonathan Demme’s outstanding comedy. His role on the film would rightly earn him a Golden Globe nomination and though he went on to co-star alongside Kevin Costner in Field of Dreams in 1989 it was his casting in the lead role of Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece Goodfellas that would cement his reputation. It was a role that he campaigned hard to get and he made it his own and stood toe with performances from Robert de Niro and an incendiary career defining Oscar winning role from Joe Pesci.
The 1990’s would see him appear in films as diverse as Unlawful Entry and Corrina, Corrina and 1998 would see him SAG nominated for his role as Sinatra in TV movie ‘The Rat Pack’. The 2000’s saw Liotta recede from the spotlight somewhat but he worked constantly appearing in Hannibal, Narc and even winning an Emmy in 2005 for a guest role in ER. He was on something of a come back over the last few years with roles in Oscar nominated Marriage Story and also Big Screen version of Tv’s the Sopranos in The Many Saints of Newark
He had one daughter and was engaged in December 2020 to be married to Jacy Nittolo. Ray Liotta died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic whilst shooting a film. He was 67 years old.