Actor Ray Liotta dies, age 67; leaves legacy of tough guy roles

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On Thursday, May 26, 2022, it was announced on a host of media outlets that famed actor, Ray Liotta died. Liotta had been in the Dominican Republic filming a movie titled, “Dangerous Waters.” Liotta starred in a number of movies during his career. The ones that he is arguably the most famous for are the complicated tough guys that drew audiences to storylines that were often violent.

Ray Liotta: a type of tough guy

According to CBS News, the irony of Liotta’s life was that he often played tough guys, but had never been in a fight in his life. The network also claims that Liotta had a rough beginning in a New Jersey orphanage.

Many audiences will remember Liotta from his role in “Field of Dreams” (1989) as Shoeless Joe Jackson. From there, he would play real-life mobster, Henry Hill in “Goodfellas” (1990). It was the role in “Goodfellas” that cemented Liotta as a household name. His intensity and encompassing approach to roles made him unforgettable. Later, he would play Tommy Vercetti in the video game “Grand Theft Auto” (2002).

Liotta brought his talent to the small screen in 2016, when he starred in NBC’s “Shades of Blue” with singer Jennifer Lopez. The pair played crooked cops who were loyal to no one except each other, at least on the surface. The series ended in 2018.

In 2021, Liotta played Aldo Moltisanti, father of Dickie Moltisanti, in “The Many Saints of Newark.” Dickie was the father of Michael Moltisanti, a “Sopranos” main character who narrates “Saints” from his grave.

It is difficult to think of the movies Liotta has been in without thinking of his menacing performances. His roles permeated each movie or show. According to reports, Liotta died in his sleep. No cause of death has been given. Fellow actors, including co-stars Lorraine Bracco, Jennifer Lopez, and Robert DeNiro, to name a few, have publicly lauded Liotta’s character and expressed sadness for his loss.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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