Ray Liotta

Ray Liotta Headshot

Actor

Birth Date: December 18, 1954

Death Date: May 26, 2022

Birth Place: Newark, New Jersey

Ray Liotta was an American actor who was best known for playing cops and tough guys in roles in films like "Something Wild" (1986), "Goodfellas" (1990), "Cop Land" (1997) and "Narc" (2002). Liotta was born in Newark, New Jersey in 1954. At the age of six-months he was adopted by a young couple who was heavily involved in Newark's Democratic Party. Although he would later seek out and meet his biological mother in the 2000s, Liotta always referred to his adoptive parents as his mother and father. When he was a young boy, both of Liotta's parents ran unsuccessfully for office in Newark. In fact, one of Ray's earliest memories was handing out flyers during one of his father's campaigns.

When it came time to enter college, Liotta attended Miami University in South Florida. It was there that he first took an interest in acting, admittedly because it was a way to meet girls. After appearing in a few school plays, however, Liotta was hooked and started taking acting more seriously. He eventually graduated with a degree in Fine Arts in 1978 and immediately moved to New York City to pursue an acting career. Within a few short months Liotta got an agent and was cast in a recurring role on the daytime soap opera "Another World" (NBC, 1964-1999). Liotta played the role of Joey Perrini on the soap from 1978 to 1981.

After a few years on "Another World" Liotta began getting the itch to broaden his acting horizons. Plus he was beginning to feel limited creatively by being on a soap opera. So he quit the show in 1981 and moved to L.A. to take a swing at a film acting career. He nabbed his first film role in 1983's "Lonely Lady," and from there joined the cast of the short-lived ABC drama series "Our Family Honor" (ABC, 1985). Liotta's first breakout film role came in 1986 when he was cast as a violent ex-con in Jonathan Demme's "Something Wild." His role in the quirky crime comedy put Liotta on the map.

In 1989 he played the blacklisted ballplayer Shoeless Joe Jackson in the fantasy sports film "Field of Dreams." "Field of Dreams" was nominated for three Oscars, including one Best Picture. With his acting career on the upward trajectory, Liotta was cast in the role of a lifetime in 1990 when he played the hot-headed mobster Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese's gangster film "Goodfellas." Liotta's role as Hill was hailed by critics, and proved to be so transformative that nearly three decades after the film premiered he admitted to still being stopped on the street by fans of the film.

"Goodfellas" was a highpoint in Liotta's career, and over the next two decades he continued to build a solid body of work with noteworthy performances in films like "Cop Land," "Blow" (2001), "Narc," and "Bee Movie" (2007). In 2016 Liotta returned to TV by starring alongside Jennifer Lopez on NBC's cop drama "Shades of Blue" (NBC, 2016-18). However, NBC decided not to renew the series after its third season. In 2019 Liotta appeared in a film by noted indie director Noah Baumbach. That film, "Marriage Story," starred Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver. Ray Liotta died on May 26, 2022 in Dominican Republic at the age of 67.

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1992

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2024

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