Remembering Ray Liotta's Life in Photos, on What Would Have Been His 68th Birthday

In May of 2022, the Goodfellas actor died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic at 67 years old. Look back on his most captivating and chilling performances

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Ray Liotta's Early Years

Actor Ray Liotta poses for a portrait in October 1990 in Los Angeles, California.
Aaron Rapoport/Corbis/Getty

Ray Liotta was born in New Jersey on Dec. 18, 1954, and adopted as a baby. His parents later welcomed a baby girl named Linda by adoption, too. "Boy, did we get lucky," Liotta told PEOPLE in 2021, though added that "at first I didn't understand how a parent could give up a child. So I had that kind of energy of just being like, 'That's f---ed up.' And then when I finally met my birth mom and my birth siblings in my 40s, by then I wasn't as angry about it. It's just another journey."

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Ray Liotta in Goodfellas

Paul Sorvino (third from left) in Goodfellas (1990). Sunset Boulevard/Corbis/Getty

Liotta got his start in the business with a handful of bit parts and a role on the soap opera Another World, but it was his turn in 1990's Goodfellas (here with Robert De Niro, Paul Sorvino and Joe Pesci) that truly put him on the map.

"So many people saw it, and it's a movie that keeps on giving," he told PEOPLE in 2021. "Fathers show their sons."

03 of 21

Ray Liotta in Field of Dreams

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He also made an impression one year prior as "Shoeless" Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams — and, as he told PEOPLE, accidentally hit costar Kevin Costner (right) in the head with a bat while filming.

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Ray Liotta in Something Wild

ray liotta, melanie griffith
Orion Pictures/Zuma

In 1986, Liotta earned a Golden Globe nomination for Something Wild. Costarring alongside Jeff Daniels and Melanie Griffith, he played Ray Sinclair, Griffith's character's violent ex-husband who had just been released from prison.

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Ray Liotta in Cop Land

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Liotta reunited with De Niro and acted alongside Sylvester Stallone in 1997's Cop Land, playing a conniving New York City cop who gets caught up in drama with his fellow officers in the New Jersey town where they live for a break from the big city.

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Ray Liotta Voices Grand Theft Auto: Vice City

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Rockstar Games/Instagram; Inset: Vincent Sandoval/Getty

Liotta lent his talents to the 2002 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, voicing the gangster character Tommy Vercetti. Set in 1986 in a Miami-like city, players see Vercetti released from prison for murder, only to get tangled up in a drug deal gone wrong.

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Ray Liotta in Revolver

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Daniel Smith/Europacorp/Kobal/Shutterstock

In 2005, Liotta starred alongside Jason Statham in this Guy Ritchie-directed film, playing gang boss Dorothy Macha, who sent Statham's gambling character Jake Green to prison – inspiring him to seek a desperate revenge.

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Ray Liotta Wins an Emmy Award

Ray Liotta
Ray Liotta.

Liotta won his sole Emmy for outstanding guest actor in a drama series for his 2005 role on the hit NBC medical drama ER as an ex-con and alcoholic named Charlie Metcalf. Throughout his career, he was also nominated for two Screen Actors Guild Awards and two Film Idependent Spirit Awards; he won one in 2020 alongside his Marriage Story castmates.

09 of 21

Ray Liotta Narrates Inside the Mafia

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Pascal Le Segretain/Getty

In a nod to his best-known roles, Liotta narrated the 2005 National Geographic miniseries Inside the Mafia, which examined the incredible influence of the criminal organization, per IMDb.

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Ray Liotta Voices a Bad Guy in SpongeBob

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Inset: Rich Polk/Getty

Leaning into the gangster genre on a lighter note, the actor took his talents to kids' TV for a 2008 episode of SpongeBob SquarePants. There, he voiced the rough and tumble leader of the Bubble Poppin' Boys gang — who tried to kill Spongebob!

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Ray Liotta in Date Night

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In 2010, Liotta appeared alongside Steve Carell and Tina Fey in Date Night, playing a mob boss whose henchmen mistakenly target the couple – triggering a hilarious and terrifying chain of events.

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Ray Liotta in The Son of No One

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Millennium Films/Kobal/Shutterstock

Liotta crossed paths professionally with Al Pacino for the first time in The Son of No One in 2011, in which Channing Tatum, Katie Holmes and Tracy Morgan also starred. Liotta brought the heat as a crooked Queens cop who feared no consequences – to a chilling end.

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Ray Liotta in Killing Them Softly

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The actor lit up the screen in 2012's Killing Them Softly as Markie Trattman, who runs high-stakes poker games for the mob – until things go haywire when Brad Pitt and James Gandolfini's characters get involved.

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Ray Liotta in The Iceman

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Bleiberg Entertainment/Kobal/Shutterstock

Liotta played another gangster in The Iceman in 2012, stepping into the somber role of Roy DeMeo. Winona Ryder, Chris Evans, James Franco, Michael Shannon and David Schwimmer also starred.

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Ray Liotta and Daughter Karsen

Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty

Liotta had one daughter, Karsen (right, with The Place Beyond the Pines costar Ryan Gosling at the 2016 Screen Actors Guild Awards), with ex-wife Michelle Grace.

"There's nothing more important to me than my daughter," Liotta told PEOPLE last year.

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Ray Liotta on Shades of Blue

Jennifer Lopez holds a gun on the "Shades of Blue" set in Union Square Park, NYC
Splash News

Liotta told PEOPLE he "enjoyed" working with Jennifer Lopez on their NBC cop drama, Shades of Blue, from 2016 to 2018. And though he was known for many of his tough-guy characters, "I have never been in a fight!" he told PEOPLE.

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Ray Liotta and Fiancée Jacy Nittolo

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Ray Liotta/Instagram

In December of 2020, the actor revealed that he had proposed to girlfriend Jacy Nittolo.

"Christmas wishes do come true," Liotta wrote on Instagram alongside a photograph of the two in front of a Christmas tree. "I asked the love of my life to marry me, and thank God she said yes!!!"

On her respective Instagram account, Nittolo shared the same shot, as well as an outtake from their adorable holiday shoot. "💍🥂🍾," she wrote alongside the post.

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Ray Liotta in The Many Saints of Newark

BILLY MAGNUSSEN as Paulie Walnuts, JON BERNTHAL as Johnny Soprano, COREY STOLL as Junior Soprano (in back), JOHN MAGARO as Silvio Dante, RAY LIOTTA as “Hollywood Dick” Moltisanti and ALESSANDRO NIVOLA as Dickie Moltisanti in New Line Cinema and Home Box Office’s mob drama “THE MANY SAINTS OF NEWARK”
Barry Wetcher/Warner Bros. Pictures

In 2021, Liotta scored a spot in the star-studded Many Saints of Newark cast, playing both Hollywood Dick and Sal Moltisanti. "I still like to play different kinds of characters," he told PEOPLE at the time.

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Ray Liotta on Hannah Montana and Beyond

Hannah Montana, Ray Liotta, Miley Cyrus
Jaimie Trueblood/Disney Channel via Getty

The actor reached new generations of fans with guest spots on shows like Hannah Montana (right), The League, Modern Family and Young Sheldon, plus voice roles in series and movies including The Simpsons, Family Guy and Bee Movie.

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Ray Liotta on Hanna

Christopher Raphael/Amazon Prime

The actor's most recent project was Amazon Prime's Hanna, in which he tackled the role of villain Gordon Evans. "I"m really glad I did this," he told PEOPLE.

Prior to his death, he'd completed filming on the Apple TV+ limited series Black Bird, which premiered in the summer of 2022.

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Ray Liotta's Parting Words

Ray Liotta
Elisabeth Caren/Contour/Getty

Liotta died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic in late May of 2022, PEOPLE confirmed. He was 67 years old.

In his 2021 interview, he told PEOPLE "[I] am not in the mood to die. And as you get older, there's a perspective of that getting closer."

"For some reason," he shared, "I've been busier this year than I have in all the years that I've been doing this. But I still feel I'm not done yet. I just think there's a lot more."

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