During his senior year of high school, a
teacher asked him whether he wanted to be in a play. He'd go on to study acting at the University of Miami, and after graduation, he got his first break on the soap opera "Another World."
"He was salt of the earth," said Steven Edwards, president of the New Jersey Hall of Fame. "When we were
him into the Hall of Fame, we were encouraging him to get some A-lister to
him. Ray insisted that we get his childhood friend, Gene Laguna, who he played baseball with."
– Steven Edwards,
In 1989's "Field of Dreams," he portrayed "Shoeless Joe" Jackson, a member of the
1919 Chicago White Sox team who shows up as a ghost in the cornfield of an Iowa farmer (Kevin Costner).
Hill, who died in 2012, was a fan of Liotta’s
based on his book with Nicole Pileggi, Wiseguy.
In 1990, Liotta as Henry Hill became the lynchpin of Martin Scorsese's opus Goodfellas, delivering lines like 'As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster' with
"As far back as I can remember I wanted to be a
"Getting thrown out of baseball was like having part of me
amputated. I've heard that old men wake up and scratch itchy legs that been dust for over fifty years. That was me. I'd wake up at night with the smell of the ball park in my nose, the cool of the grass on my feet...The thrill of the grass."
– Field of Dreams
"Do you want to teach me a
lullaby to sing to you every night?"
– Corrina, Corrina
"Ray was the
of a tough guy who was all mushy on the inside…I guess that's what made him such a compelling actor to watch," said Jennifer Lopez, who starred with Liotta in the TV cop series, "Shades of Blue."
He was known for his intensity, especially in crime dramas, but he was also
The New York Times
He specialized in
characters who hide behind a cultivated charm.
Even in his nice-guy roles in Field of Dreams (1989) and Operation Dumbo Drop (1995), you get the impression that something is
inside of him.
He broke into movies with the black comedy Something Wild (1986), which
him rave reviews.
"You want to do as many different
as you can and that's what I've been doing. I've done movies with the Muppets. I did Sinatra. I did good guys and bad guys. I did a movie with an elephant. I decided that I was here to try different parts and do different things. That's what it’s really all about. That's what a career should be."
– Ray Liotta,
Long Island Weekly
Fresh off HBO's "The Rat Pack," in which he played Frank Sinatra, Ray Liotta turns up in a terrific neo-noir, "Phoenix," which opens today at the NuWilshire with scant fanfare—but which packs a
Los Angeles Times
But for all the scene-chewing, the weathered and ferocious Henry Oak is no tough-guy caricature. Liotta infuses him with enough
– even softness – that you're never quite sure whether he's a good cop gone bad or a bad cop gone good.
The Washington Post