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Ray Liotta's cause of death revealed ahead of one-year anniversary of his passing

The Goodfellas actor was on location filming Dangerous Waters when he passed away in his sleep last May


Ray Liotta from Warner Bros. Pictures' "The Many Saints of Newark" attends Deadline Contenders Film: New York on December 04, 2021 in New York City
Beatriz Colon
Beatriz Colon - New York
New York WriterNew York
May 8, 2023
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Just shy of three weeks before the one-year anniversary of Ray Liotta's passing, his cause of death has been revealed. News of his death was first reported on May 26, 2022, with reports merely revealing that he had died in his sleep in the Dominican Republic.

At the time, the actor, 67, was filming a new movie in the Caribbean island, Dangerous Waters, a thriller directed by John Barr also starring Eric Dane, Odeya Rush, and Saffron Burrows.

Now his death has been revealed as having been caused by heart failure and respiratory issues.

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Documents first obtained by TMZ detail that among the heart failure and respiratory issues were pulmonary edema, which is fluid in the lungs, acute heart failure, and respiratory insufficiency.

The documents also state that the late actor suffered from atherosclerosis, which Johns Hopkins describes as "thickening or hardening of the arteries caused by a buildup of plaque in the inner lining of an artery," and that risk factors include "high cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, obesity, physical activity, and eating saturated fats."

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At the time of his death, Liotta was engaged to fiancée Jacy Nittolo, and he was a father to daughter Karsen Liotta, 24, with ex-wife Michelle Grace. The former couple were married from 1997 until 2004.

He had most recently starred in The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel series to The Sopranos, as well as the Adam Driver film Marriage Story, and No Sudden Move. He had just finished the Elizabeth Banks-directed film Cocaine Bear, which premiered in February of 2023, the first film of his to be released after his death.

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Arguably his most beloved role was on the 1990 crime classic Goodfellas as Henry Hill, a young man who grows up in the mob and works hard to advance himself through the ranks. It sees his character become addicted to drugs, and his climb to the top subsequently begins to unravel.

Ray Liotta during "GoodFellas" Special Edition DVD Release at Matteo's Italian Restaurant in Los Angeles© Getty
One of the actor's most iconic roles was on Goodfellas in 1990

The film was nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director, with Joe Pesci winning for Best Supporting Actor. It won five BAFTA Awards and was named the year's best film by various critics' groups.

In February of this year, Liotta's daughter and his fiancée, and his Cocaine Bear director, Elizabeth, plus Taron Egerton, were all in attendance at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, as he was honored with a posthumous Hollywood Star ceremony on the famous Los Angeles street.

Karsen Liotta and Jacy Nittolo pose for a photo during the ceremony where Ray Liotta is posthumously honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on February 24, 2023 in Hollywood, California© Getty
Karsen and Jacy receiving Liotta's Hollywood Star in February of 2023

Liotta was born in Newark, New Jersey, on December 18, 1954, and after he was abandoned and left at an orphanage, he was adopted when he was six months old by township clerk Mary Edgar and Alfred Liotta, an auto-parts store owner.

He moved to New York City after graduating from the University of Miami, and one of his earliest roles was on the soap opera Another World, in which he starred as Joey Perrini from 1978 until 1981. In 1986, he received a Best Supporting Actor Golden Globe nomination for his role as Ray Sinclair in Something Wild.

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