Henry Hill, Ray Liotta

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He was the kind of mobster audiences rooted for.

Henry Hill, the crime family associate whose escapades and epic betrayal of his fellow wiseguys was immortalized in Martin Scorsese's classic 1990 drama, Goodfellas, died Tuesday of an undisclosed illness in a Los Angeles hospital.

The news was confirmed by Hill's website, GoodfellaHenry.com, which said in a statement, "He leaves friends and family behind who enjoyed (?) his roller coaster vigor and enthusiasm for life and laughs. He will be missed."

Nate Caserta, the music producer son of Hill's fiancé Lisa Schinelli, told ABC News that Hill's "heart just stopped."

"He had been sick for a long time," said Caserta.

Hill was portrayed by Ray Liotta in the critically acclaimed flick, which nabbed six Academy Award nominations including Best Picture.

Based on the book Wiseguy by journalist Nicholas Pileggi, Goodfellas chronicled his life of crime and the heists he pulled off under the aegis of New York's Lucchese crime family and capo Paul "Paulie" Vario in the 1950s and '60s.

The most notable of these were the Air France robbery in 1967 at Kennedy airport, which netted the crime syndicate $420,000, and the infamous 1978 Lufthansa heist, which turned out to be the most expensive robbery in history with $5.1 million in cash and $875,000 in jewels stolen. In between, Hill served six years in prison after being found guilty of extortion.

But all of these activities came to a halt in 1980 when the tough guy was busted on a narcotics-trafficking charge and turned FBI informant, convinced that he was a marked man.

His testimony against his former associates led to 50 convictions, and Hill entered subsequently the witness protection program with his wife, Karen (played by Lorraine Bracco in the movie), and their two children, where they lived a relatively quiet life in Seattle under an assumed name.

He didn't clean up his act permanently, however; in 1987 he was busted on a drug charge and was eventually booted out of witness protection in the early '90s.

Hill and his wife divorced in 1989 after 25 years of marriage.


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