“Goodfellas” inspiration Henry Hill dies

Am I the only one who thinks he’s lucky he lived this long?

The mobster-turned-protected-witness-turned-cultural-icon was 69.  From the AP:

Longtime girlfriend Lisa Caserta told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Hill died of complications from longtime heart problems related to smoking.

An associate in New York’s Lucchese crime family, Hill told detailed, disturbing and often hilarious tales of life in the mob that first appeared in the 1986 book “Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family,” by Nicholas Pileggi, a journalist Hill sought out shortly after becoming an informant.

“Henry Hill was a hood. He was a hustler. He had schemed and plotted and broken heads,” Pileggi wrote in the book. “He knew how to bribe and he knew how to con. He was a full-time working racketeer, an articulate hoodlum from organized crime.”

In 1990 the book, adapted for the screen by Pileggi and Scorsese, became the instant classic “Goodfellas,” starring Robert De Niro, Joe Pesci and Ray Liotta as Hill, a young hoodlum on the make who thrives in the Mafia but is eventually forced by drugs to turn on his criminal friends and lead the life of a sad suburbanite.

The film became a constantly quoted pop cultural phenomenon that provided the template for the modern gangster story.

Of course, this affords me an opportunity to post the legendary clip below, one of the great tracking shots in the movies (thank you, Mr. Scorcese):

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