Ray Liotta Biography

Ray Liotta photo

Born: December 18, 1954
Died: May 26, 2022

Adopted at six months of age, the Newark-born Ray Liotta was raised in Union, NJ. A star athlete in high school, Liotta switched his field of interest to dramatics at the University of Miami, where he excelled in student productions of A Streetcar Named Desire, Cabaret and Death of a Salesman.

Moving to New York after graduation in 1978, Liotta began bartending and within six months, landed the role of Joey Perrini in the daytime drama Another World, which he played for three years before heading to the West Coast. Despite a good part in The Lonely Lady (1983) and the recurring role of Sacha the bartender in the short-lived TV revival of Casablanca (1983), Liotta was for the most part unsuccessful during his first Tinseltown stay. He was about to pack it in and find some other line of work when Melanie Griffiths recommended him for the part of her smarmy ex-con husband in Something Wild (1986).

His performance received critical acclaim and a Golden Globe nomination. Soon offers began to pour in. However, most of the roles were to reprise his psycho portrayal so Liotta refused them in order to avoid being typecast. Opting instead for smaller movies, he appeared in Dominick & Eugene and Field of Dreams.

When he heard Martin Scorsese was casting GoodFellas, he lobbied hard for the part of Henry Hill, a half Sicilian, half Irish Brooklyn kid "adopted" by gangsters and raised as member of mob family. The Oscar-nominated film's success brought him wide popularity and lead billing in future films (Article 99, Unlawful Entry, No Escape, Unforgettable).

For awhile, Liotta almost sank out of the public view, but a role in the highly anticipated Hannibal (2001) changed that and led him to starring roles in such films as Heartbreakers (2001) with Sigourney Weaver, Blow starring Johnny Depp, the comedies Wild Hogs with Tim Allen and Date Night with Steve Carrell and Tina Fey, and the crime drama Killing Them Softly (2012) alongside Brad Pitt.

Liotta was married to actress/producer Michelle Grace, whom he met on the set of The Rat Pack (1998), from 1997 to 2004. They have one daughter, Karsen Liotta. He was also a celebrity ambassador for Stand Up 2 Cancer, which raises funds for developments in cancer research.

Change Location
* required!
* required!
Type the code: