The real life ‘wise guy’ gangster, Henry Hill, who was portrayed in the “Goodfellas” movie by actor Ray Liotta eventually became an FBI informant, died at the age of 69 of natural causes on Tuesday.
His partner and manager Lisa Caserta said that Hill had died due to complications caused by years of smoking and a recent heart attack.
Hill’s life was also the basis for the book, “Wiseguy,” written by Nicholas Pileggi which was turned into the “Goodfellas” movie.
Hill, an Irish-Italian-American born in Brooklyn, New York, became an associate of the Lucchese crime family in his early teens, before later becoming a turncoat for the FBI.
While growing up, Hill always admired the mobsters that would hang out across the street from where he lived. He was first given jobs running errands for a gangster run cabstand, shoe shine stand, and pizzeria, where he befriended notorious mobster Jimmy Burke.
As he earned more and more trust amongst the mobsters and Burke, he was given more responsibilities and eventually was given a union card to a no-show job with the bricklayers’ local on a construction site which he was paid $190 a week for at the age of 14. From there his responsibilities grew.
In 1980, after an arrest, FBI agents presented evidence to him that members within the crime family had grown tired of his behavior and wanted him killed, which convinced him to become an informant, to put those who wanted him dead behind bars and also avoid a long prison sentence of his own.
His testimony against his former crime family associates ended up leading to 50 convictions, including that of Burke, who received 20 years in prison for a points shaving scandal.
Hill died in a Los Angeles hospital one day after his 69th birthday.
“He had been sick for a long time. … his heart gave out.” Caserta said “He went out pretty peacefully, for a goodfella.”