The Real-Life Guy From 'Goodfellas' Got Up To Some Shenanigans Afterward
Goodfellas ends with Ray Liotta's character Henry Hill in the witness protection program after ratting on his fellow gangsters. He escaped jail but misses the glory of the mob lifestyle, bemoaning having to live "like a schnook." It seems he'll stay anonymous in the suburbs for the rest of his days.
This isn't exactly what happened to the real Henry Hill, the one whose bio served as the basis for the movie. Goodfellas itself, in the end cards, reveals that Hill went on to be arrested for meth possession in 1987. Decades later, in 2005, now 60 years old, Hill would be arrested again for trafficking cocaine and for more meth charges. This had nothing to do with the mafia—this was just some unrelated crime ring he'd hooked up with.
In 1981, Hill fell in love and got married. This might surprise you if you remember Goodfellas ending with him still married to his wife Karen, played by Lorraine Bracco. He was still married to the real Karen when he married this second wife. Yep: You can add bigamy to the list of Hill's list of crimes post-retirement. Also, public intoxication. And resisting arrest (for public intoxication).
In the middle of all this, the feds lost their patience with the man and dropped him from the witness protection program. That sounds like they were sentencing him to die at the hands of the mafia enemies searching for him, which is a bit of an extreme punishment. But by this time, Hill had largely dispensed with all pretenses and was calling himself Henry Hill again. He wasn’t scared anymore, figuring everyone who wanted him dead was dead themselves by now, or in jail.
Between then and when he did die (of natural causes), Hill seemed to give up crime again. However, he also spared himself some of the indignities listed at the end of Goodfellas. "Can’t even get decent food," the character says in the closing monologue. "Right after I got here, I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce, and I got egg noodles and ketchup." So, Hill got a job as a chef. Then he opened his own restaurant—under his real name.
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Top image: Warner Bros. Pictures