32 years after Martin Scorsese’s seminal gangster film, Goodfellas, premiered, Paul Sorvino has tragically passed away at age 83.
His publicist, Roger Neal, confirmed the tragic news on Monday morning, explaining that the legendary actor died of natural causes, while his wife of eight years, Dee Dee Benkie, was by his side.
‘Our hearts are broken, there will never be another Paul Sorvino, he was the love of my life, and one of the greatest performers to ever grace the screen and stage,’ Benkie said in a statement.
The star was best known for his role as Paul Cicero in the 1990 smash hit mobster flick Goodfellas, which also starred Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci, and went on to become a cult classic – with some arguing that it is the most influential gangster movie ever made after The Godfather trilogy.
But what are the cast members doing now? As fans all around the world come to grips with the sudden passing of Sorvino, FEMAIL has taken a look at what happened to him, and the rest of his costars, over the three decades since the movie came out.
32 years after Martin Scorsese’s seminal gangster film, Goodfellas, premiered, Paul Sorvino tragically passed away at age 83. Amid his sad death, FEMAIL has taken a look at what happened to him, and the rest of his costars, since the movie came out
Based on a true story, Goodfellas is a foul-mouthed tale that followed the rise and fall of the three crooks over the course of 30 years.
It tracked the life story of a Brooklyn youngster named Henry Hill (played by Liotta), who became enamored by the organized crime syndicate in his working class neighborhood, along with the help of two murderous mob associates Jimmy Conway (played by De Niro) and Tommy DeVito (played by Pesci).
Sorvino’s death comes just two months after Liotta also passed away in his sleep in a hotel in the Dominican Republic.
An emergency service team reportedly rushed to the building, but he could not be saved; his body was transferred to the forensic institute of Santo Domingo and there is no suspicion of foul play.
Many of the Goodfella stars went on to gain critical acclaim, launching major careers and landing a slew of well-known roles. From their impressive list of acting credits to their love lives, here’s everything the cast of Goodfellas has been up since the beloved movie hit screens for the first time 32 years ago.
Henry Hill played by Ray Liotta
Ray Liotta played Henry Hill in Goodfellas. He is seen in the 1990 movie (left) and in 2018 (right)
Liotta was born in New Jersey in 1954, and was abandoned by his mother at an orphanage before being adopted six months later.
He was then adopted by a town clerk and auto-parts shop owner, and insisted that he never contemplated acting while growing up in Newark.
The actor appeared to shy away from his fame in the 1990s and kept a low profile, acting in a few films such as Corrina, Corrina (1994) and Frank Sinatra’s in The Rat Pack (1999). He’s made a professional comeback in recent years starring in The Many Saints of Newark, Marriage Story (which won a Spirit Award), and Steven Soderbergh’s No Sudden Move
After graduating from high school, he moved to New York City and worked as a bartender until he was cast in soap opera Another World in 1980.
He then found fame playing ex-con Ray Sinclair in the 1986 black comedy Something Wild, for which he received a Golden Globe nomination, before staring as Shoeless Joe Jackson in the 1989 film Field Of Dreams.
But his career-defining moment came in 1990, when he was cast as the real-life mobster, Hill, in Scorsese’s mobster masterpiece, Goodfellas.
Scorsese said he saw something special in the the small-time indie actor after he approached him at the Venice Film Festival in 1988.
‘I had a lot of bodyguards around me. Ray approached me in the lobby and the bodyguards moved toward him, and he had an interesting way of reacting, which was he held his ground, but made them understand he was no threat. I liked his behavior at that moment,’ the director told GQ in 2010.
Liotta’s chutzpah paid off, with the director overruling his reluctant producers and casting the unheard-of 34-year-old as the lead role.
Despite his major success in the movie, the actor appeared to shy away from his fame in the 1990s, and kept a low profile – but he had made a resurgence in more recent years.
After Goodfellas, he starred in a slew of big movies and TV shows including psychological thriller Unlawful Entry, sci-fi flick No Escape, 1997’s Cop Land, crime movie Phoenix, The Rat Pack (in which he played Frank Sinatra), TV drama ER (which earned him an Emmy), Hannibal (alongside Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore), horror movie Identity, Wild Hogs (opposite John Travolta), 2009 crime drama Crossing Over, The Son of No One (with Channing Tatum), Date Night (which also starred Steve Carell), Killing Them Softly in 2012, western miniseries Texas Rising, and Shades of Blue (alongside Jennifer Lopez), among others.
Liotta married actress and producer Michelle Grace (pictured together in 2002) in February 1997 after they had met at a baseball game, where her former husband Mark Grace was playing for the Chicago Cubs
Liotta and his ex-wife were married from 1999 to 2004. They welcomed one daughter together, Karsen Liotta – who is now an actress herself. Liotta and Karsen are pictured left in 2004 and right in 2008
In March, the actor had been spotted out and about in Los Angeles, where onlookers said he appeared ‘noticeably pale’ and ‘needed help from the valet putting on his jacket’
The legendary gangster actor sadly passed away in bed at Casas del XVI in Zona Colonial on May 26 at age 67. He is pictured last October
He also provided his voice for the video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City in 2002, acted in the Broadway play Match in 2004, and narrated the AMC docu-series The Making of the Mob.
Liotta met his ex-wife Grace in February 1997 when they both attended a baseball game, where her former husband Mark Grace was playing for the Chicago Cubs.
Grace, now 53, is a producer and actress who was behind flicks like Baseball Wives and Knights of the South Bronx.
They married in 1999 and were together until 2004, when they got divorced. They welcomed one daughter together, named Karsen Liotta – who is now an actress herself.
Before his death, Liotta found love again with former hairstylist Jacy Nittolo, 47. The two started dating during the pandemic after his daughter set them up.
She and Liotta made their red carpet debut at the Film Independent Spirit Awards in February of 2020, and announced their engagement in December of that year.
‘Christmas wishes do come true. I asked the love of my life to marry me, and thank God she said yes!’ he wrote on Instagram at the time.
He had a minor run-in with the law in February 2007, when he was charged for driving under the influence after crashing his Cadillac Escalade into two parked vehicles in Pacific Palisades.
At his time of death, he was filming a new movie called Dangerous Waters, alongside Demi Moore and Margaret Qualley, in the Dominican Republic.
In March, the actor had been spotted out and about in Los Angeles, California, where onlookers said he appeared ‘noticeably pale’ and ‘needed help from the valet putting on his jacket.’
The eyewitness added that he was ‘slow and steady on his feet’ and needed assistance carrying all his bags from the car to the hotel.
But he looked healthier in pictures taken at the start of May, as he strolled through Pacific Palisades with his fiancée, Nittolo.
The legendary gangster actor sadly passed away in bed at Casas del XVI in Zona Colonial on May 26 at age 67.
Jimmy ‘The Gent’ Conway played by Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro played Jimmy ‘The Gent’ Conway in Goodfellas. He is seen in the 1990 movie (left) and in April (right)
Over the course of 40 years, De Niro stared in nine Scorsese features including Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy, Casino, The Irishman, and the forthcoming film, Killers of the Flower Moon – set to be released in November 2022
De Niro has six children and has been married and divorced twice. Above, he is pictured with his second wife, Grace Hightower, in 2017 whom requested a 50/50 split of his $500 million fortune in their nasty divorce
De Niro, 78, was born and bred in New York City and raised on the streets of Little Italy. Incidentally, Goodfellas director, Scorsese, also grew up in the same neighborhood just a few streets away.
Though the two boys never met as teenagers, they would eventually go on to create one of the finest runs in cinematic history ever seen.
Their first collaboration was Mean Streets in 1973, in which De Niro played a tough-talking gangster; by the time De Niro starred as Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas, he had already won two Academy Awards for his parts in Scorsese’s Raging Bull (which came out in 1980) and for his seminal performance as Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather II.
Over the course of 40 years, De Niro stared in nine Scorsese features including Taxi Driver, The King of Comedy, Casino, The Irishman, and the forthcoming film, Killers of the Flower Moon – set to be released in November 2022.
Some of his other acting credits include Awakenings in 1990, the psychological thriller Cape Fear, coming of age drama This Boy’s Life, A Bronx Tale (which he also directed), crime flicks Heat and Casino, Analyze This in 1999, comedy Meet the Parents, and Silver Linings Playbook (alongside Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence, among others.
De Niro has six children and has been married and divorced twice. He wed actress Diahnne Abbott in 1976, and together they share a son, named Raphael. He also adopted her daughter, Drena, from a previous relationship. They split in 1988.
He welcomed twin boys, named Julian and Aaron, in 1995 through in vitro fertilization using a surrogate mother.
In 1997, he married actress Grace Hightower, and she birthed his fifth child, a son named Elliot in 1998, and his sixth, a daughter named Helen in 2011. They separated four years later.
Karen Friedman played by Lorraine Bracco
Lorraine Bracco played Karen Friedman in Goodfellas. She is seen in the 1990 movie (left) and in April (right)
‘After Goodfellas, I was offered every Mafia gal, girl, wife, mistress, daughter available. And I said to them, ‘No, I don’t want to do that. I did it. Can’t do it better,’ Bracco told Vanity Fair in 2012
Despite her vowed rejection of the mob genre, Bracco scored the role of Dr. Melfi, Tony Soprano’s therapist in David Chase’s seminal gangster television series, The Sopranos. She is pictured in the show
Born in New York City in 1954, Lorraine Bracco is known for her distinct husky voice and Brooklyn accent. She is the daughter of an Italian father who worked at the Fulton Fish Market, and his British war bride.
She began her career modeling for Wilhelmina in France during the 1970s, appearing in a few Italian language films while also working a disc jockey for Radio Luxemburg.
In Goodfellas, she stole practically every scene with her portrayal of Karen Friedman Hill, the unsuspecting Jewish girl who married into the Mob via Henry.
Bracco later admitted that she never watched her groundbreaking performance in the film until 25 year later, when it was screening at a drive in movie theatre.
‘After Goodfellas, I was offered every Mafia gal, girl, wife, mistress, daughter available. And I said to them, “No, I don’t want to do that. I did it. Can’t do it better,”‘ she told Vanity Fair in 2012.
As a result, Bracco’s roles immediately following the Scorsese classic were quite different from the Mob wife part that made her a breakout star.
She followed Goodfellas up with Medicine Man in 1992, starring as a doctor opposite Sean Connery, and later played an assistant district attorney in Getting Gotti in 1994. She declined the part as Catwoman in Tim Burton’s 1998 film Batman Returns.
One year later, despite her vowed rejection of the mob genre, Bracco scored the role as Tony Soprano’s therapist, ‘Dr. Melfi,’ in David Chase’s gangster television series, The Sopranos.
Bracco has one daughter, named Margaux (who played one of her daughters in Goodfellas), from her first marriage to the French actor, Daniel Guerard.
After her divorce, Bracco began a 12-year-long relationship with a cinematic fellow-mafioso, Harvey Kietel. They share a daughter, named Stella, who was the center of a salacious custody battle that revealed allegations of drug use, depression, and violence, which resulted in Bracco being hit with $2 million in legal feels.
Bracco’s second marriage was to actor Edward James Olmos in 1994, but they divorced in 2002.
Most recently, Bracco starred in a 2020 HGTV television series My Big Italian Adventure, which chronicled her renovation of a 200-year-old house she purchased for one euro.
Tommy De Vito played by Joe Pesci
Joe Pesci played Tommy De Vito in Goodfellas. He is seen in the 1990 movie (left) and in October 2021 (right)
Pesci is also beloved for playing a crook in the 1990 film classic, Home Alone
Pesci has become a film standard landing a large array of roles over the last three decades. He played opposite of De Niro in A Bronx Tale in 1993, and joined up with Scorsese again in Casino in 1995 and again in The Irishman (pictured) in 2019
Pesci was born on February 9, 1943, in Newark, New Jersey, to a mother who worked as a part-time barber and a father who was a bartender and forklift operator for General Motors.
He began acting in plays in New York when he was five years old. At age 10, he was a regular on a television variety show called Startime Kids, which also featured Connie Francis.
As a teenager, Pesci became friends with the Italian-American singers Franki Valli and Tommy DeVito. He introduced them to Bob Gaudio when he was 16, which led to the formation of The Four Seasons.
Pesci went on to work as a barber while trying to start a musical career. He started a few pop groups that were met with minor success, before he joined comedy in insult-laden acts with Don Rickles.
He starred in one low budget film called The Death Collector in 1976, but then returned to The Bronx where he worked and lived above an Amici’s Restaurant.
His career changed in 1980, when Scorsese called to cast him as Joey LaMotta in Raging Bull, alongside De Niro. Pesci was later nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the role. He is also beloved for playing a crook in the 1990 film classic, Home Alone.
The fast-talking wise crack reunited with Scorsese in 1990 for Goodfellas, where he played mobster Tommy DeVito, based on real-life mobster Thomas DeSimone.
In the film, Pesci is responsible for delivering one of the most memorable lines in cinematic history when he mouthed to Liotta’s character: ‘What do you mean I’m funny? What am I, a clown? Am I here to f***in’ amuse you?’
Apparently, the iconic scene had been completely improvised – and was inspired by a tense standoff he had with a gangster when he was young and working as a waiter at a restaurant. He thought he was paying his customer a compliment when he called him ‘funny,’ but the comment wasn’t taken very well.
For his part in Goodfellas, Pesci was nominated for a Golden Globe and won his first Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
He accepted the award with one of the shortest speeches in Oscar history, simply saying: ‘It’s my privilege. Thank you.’
Pesci has become an American film standard landing a large array of roles over the last three decades. He played opposite of De Niro in A Bronx Tale in 1993, and joined up with Scorsese again in Casino in 1995 and again in The Irishman in 2019.
In 1999, Pesci announced his retirement from acting to pursue a musical career and to enjoy life away from the camera, but did a cameo for De Niro’s film, The Good Shepherd in 2006, and starred in the brothel drama alongside Helen Mirren in Love Ranch in 2010.
The actor has been married and divorced three times. He has one daughter from his first marriage.
Paulie Cicero played by Paul Sorvino
Paul Sorvino played Paulie Cicero in Goodfellas. He is seen in the 1990 movie (left) and in 2018 (right)
Paul Sorvino, 83, was raised in the Italian neighborhood of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, by a homemaker mother and a father who worked as factory foreman.
He began his career as a copywriter in an advertising agency, while taking voice lessons and attending the American Musical and Dramatic Academy. He had taken 18 years of voice lessons, when he decided to devote his life to theatre.
‘Our hearts are broken, there will never be another Paul Sorvino, he was the love of my life, and one of the greatest performers to ever grace the screen and stage,’ his wife, Dee Dee Benkie, said in a statement after his death
Sorvino bounced around Broadway before he landed a role playing an Italian-American Communist in Warren Beatty’s 1981 film, Reds.
His most notable role was playing the part of Paulie Cicero, the caporegime in Scorsese’s, Goodfellas. Cicero was based off a real-life mobster named Paul Vario, who was involved in the 1976 Lufthansa heist featured in the film.
Sorvino then played Henry Kissinger in the 1995 movie, Nixon, which earned him a SAG award nomination. Since then, he has played countless big roles, often portraying the quiet and stern made man.
He was also an accomplished sculptor, specializing in cast bronze. In an April 2014 interview, Sorvino said, ‘Most people think I’m either a gangster or a cop or something, but the reality is I’m a sculptor, a painter, a best-selling author, many, many things – a poet, an opera singer, but none of them is gangster.
‘Obviously I sort of have a knack for playing these things. It’s almost my later goal in life to disabuse people of the notion that I’m a slow-moving, heavy-lidded thug.’
In 2007, Sorvino launched Paul Sorvino Foods to market a range of pasta sauces. Based on his mother’s recipe, the product appeared in supermarkets in the northeastern United States in late 2009.
Three years later, Sorvino became part owner in Janson-Beckett Cosmeceuticals, best known for their top selling BOTOX alternative.
Sorvino’s legacy on the film screen has been eclipsed by his famous daughter, Mira Sorvino, who starred in Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.
He has two other children from his first marriage to Lorraine Davis and was married to the political pundit, Benkie, at the time of his death.