The famed New York mobster-turned-informant who inspired Martin Scorsese’s 1990 true crime classic, Goodfellas, is now “sleeping with the fishes.” Henry Hill died Tuesday at a Los Angeles-area hospital after succumbing to an undisclosed, lengthy illness.
He was 69.
“He had been sick for a long time. … His heart gave out,” Henry’s longtime live-in girlfriend, Lisa, told TMZ overnight.
The Brooklyn native was accused of extortion, theft, kidnapping, assault, drug dealing and a host of other offenses during his career in organized crime. He spent his later years working with troubled youth and as a consultant to law enforcement agencies.
According to NBC News:
Hill “was involved in such criminal acts as the Lufthansa heist at John F. Kennedy International Airport in December 1978, during which a then-record $5 million as well as $875,000 in jewels were stolen. The robbery became the subject of two television films and also played a role in Goodfellas. Hill’s life was later documented in crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi’s 1986 nonfiction book Wiseguy, which became the basis for Goodfellas. Ray Liotta portrayed Hill in the movie…”
His decision to testify against his former mob associates in the 1980s sent the Hills clan into the Witness Protection Program, living in places like Nebraska, Kentucky and Washington. Hill, who struggled with addiction to illegal substances for years, was ultimately expelled from the program because he refused to keep a low profile and kept getting arrested.
“For 10 years, I lived a miserable life, but now there isn’t anyone alive that I was involved with…The people that tried to kill me and my family, that’s the only people I knew about and most of them wound up with bullets in their head. I work hard. I’m not on Easy Street by no means, but I’m okay. I live a good life. I try to keep my life simple. The stigma of being a rat is hard to live with.”
Hill spent his last years working as an artist. He also penned The Wiseguy Cookbook. The reformed criminal was a popular guest on Sirius Radio’s The Howard Stern Show.
In a move snatched straight from a Sopranos fan’s dreams, the television gods are reportedly working on giving the real-life story of the notorious Mob Rat’s 25-year courtship with the Lucchese Crime Family a new lease on life.
We’re not sure how Goodfellas would translate to TV? It’s still tough to look at Joe Pesci without waiting for him to knock someone’s block off to the pulse of the chilling phrase: “Do I amuse you?”
Let’s face it, TV series’ based on movies have had a spotty history at best. My Big Fat Greek Life, anyone?
Castmembers for the proposed Goodfellas series would have tough shoes to fill: Pesci â€” who won an Oscar for his portrayal of Tommy DeVito â€” Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, and, Paul Sorvino, set the bar remarkably high.