Henry Hill, the real-life inspiration for Ray Liotta's character in "Goodfellas," has died at the age of 69. Hill's fiance and manager, Lisa Caserta, told CBS that Hill passed away in a Los Angeles hospital and "went out pretty peacefully, for a goodfella." No cause for death has been given, but Hill was a long-term smoker and had several heart problems.
Hill gained infamy when "Wiseguy," the biographical account of his life, from crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi, was adapted for the big screen by Martin Scorsese in 1990. The mob classic chronicled Hill's journey into the world of organized crime. In 1980, after a drug bust, Hill accepted a protection deal to testify against his partners in crime. He entered the witness protection program, but was kicked out in the early '90s, after several arrests under his assumed identity. At the urging of his on-screen counterpart Liotta, he completed a stint in rehab in 2006.
Following the success of "Goodfellas," Hill became a somewhat notorious public figure, selling his own brand of spaghetti sauce on the Internet, opening a restaurant in Connecticut and making several media appearances on "The Howard Stern Show" and American Movie Classics. Hill divorced from his wife Karen (portrayed in the movie by Lorraine Bracco) in 1989; his two children, Gregg and Gina, have since had their names changed and reside in undisclosed locations. Hill passed away two days after his birthday.
The Goodfellas cast
Martin Scorcese with Robert De Niro and Leonardo Di Caprio
Henry Hill with Debi Mazar, who also appeared in Goodfellas
Henry Hill at the Goodfellas premiere
Former mobster turned chef Henry Hill sits in the Firefly restaurant in North Platte, Neb., in this photo from Feb. 22, 2005.
An undated mugshot of Henry Hill
Henry Hill on his wedding day to wife Karen
A grinning Henry Hill police mugshot
Henry Hill cuts a tray of pizza in the kitchen of the Firefly restaurant where he cooks in North Platte, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2005. The exploits of Hill, who sought refuge in the witness protection program after agreeing to testify against his former mob bosses from New York, were the basis for the book "Wiseguy" by Nicholas Pileggi, which was later turned into the 1990 film "Goodfellas" directed by Martin Scorsese.
Henry Hill sits in the dining room of the Firefly restaurant in North Platte, Neb., Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2005. The exploits of Hill, who sought refuge in the witness protection program after agreeing to testify against his former mob bosses from New York, were the basis for the book "Wiseguy" by Nicholas Pileggi, which was later turned into the 1990 film "Goodfellas" by Martin Scorsese