Henry Hill, whose life as a high-rolling New York gangster turned FBI informant was the basis for Martin Scorsese’s 1990 film, Goodfellas, died yesterday of complications following a recent heart attack. He was 69. He “went out pretty peacefully, for a goodfella,” his partner and manager Lisa Caserta told CBS News.
Hill was arrested in 1980 for trafficking narcotics and fearing that his associates in the Lucchese crime family wanted him dead, he agreed to cooperate with federal authorities. His testimony led to 50 convictions, and he began a new life in the Witness Protection Program.
In 1986, author Nicholas Pileggi documented Hill’s life in the book, Wise Guy, which became the basis for Scorsese’s film, starring Ray Liotta as Hill, Joe Pesci, and Robert DeNiro. Hill was later expelled from the Witness Protection Program after additional drug-related arrests, and he suffered several setbacks in his struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.