After watching Martin Scorsese’s 1990 gangster epic “Goodfellas,” which depicted the life of Henry Hill, the famed mobster turned FBI informant, you may think you know everything there is to know about Hill.
Hill, who once called the film “95 percent accurate,” died Tuesday at age 69 of an undisclosed illness, Nate Caserta, the son of Hill’s fiancé Lisa Schinelli Casterta, confirmed.
“[His] heart just stopped. He had been sick for a long time,” Nate Caserta told ABC News.
But the film, which ends with Hill -- portrayed by Ray Liotta -- entering the witness protection plan, was only a new beginning for Hill, who spent the next 20-plus years still in hiding from the Mafia, which had a bounty on his head worth more than $1 million.
In a statement to ABCNews.com, Liotta said, “Although I played Henry Hill in the movie ‘Goodfellas,’ I only met him a few short times so I can’t say I knew him but, I do know he lived a complicated life. My heart goes out to his family and may he finally rest in peace.”
Here are seven things you may not have known about Hill.
He Was Kicked Out of Witness Protection
After his 1980 arrest on a narcotics-trafficking charge, Hill turned “rat” and became an FBI informant. His testimony led to 50 arrests. Hill, his wife Karen and their two children entered the witness protection program, changing their names and relocating to 10 times to places including Omaha, Neb., Independence, Ky., and Redmond, Wash. But in the early 1990s, Hill and his wife were expelled from the program after being arrested several times on narcotics-related charges. After living under aliases such as Martin Lewis and Peter Haines, Hill reassumed his own name.
What He Made on ‘Goodfellas’
Hill told the UK’s Telegraph in 2010 that he made $550,000 from Goodfellas but was still owed millions of dollars. That was small change compared to what he made as a mobster. “The government said a couple of hundred million dollars went through my hands,” Hill told the paper, adding that he made between $15,000 and $40,000 a week but “blew it on slow horses, women, drugs and rock n’ roll.”
Hill’s Love Life
After Hill and his wife Karen, portrayed by Lorraine Bracco in “Goodfellas,” were booted from witness protection, they soon divorced. Hill relocated to Malibu and began dating Lisa Caserta. They were engaged to be married when he died. Caserta’s son Nate became especially close to Hill, writing on Facebook after his death, “I will never be the same. I lost someone I cared about a lot. Someone who loved my family and helped me a lot with life.” According to Daryl Orr, Hill’s manager for many years, Karen is still very much underground but doing well.
Hill’s Children Wrote a Book
Along with their parents, Gregg and Gina Hill, then 13 and 11, started a new life on the run. In their book, “On the Run: A Mafia Childhood,” Gregg takes us through his years as a good student who would go home to a house where he had to protect his mother from his father. “Our lives weren’t just falling apart,” said Gregg in an interview about the book. “They’d been vaporized, liquidated, erased.” And their father only made things worse, resuming his criminalizing but also carelessly exposing the family to the mobsters trying to kill them. According to Gina and Gregg, Hill spent his days at the racetrack gambling and his nights drinking. In an interview with CBS News in 2009, Gregg, whose face was disguised, recalled that there was a breaking point where he couldn’t take it any more. “One of the most painful things I ever did was leave my mother and my sister. But I knew if I stayed there, something terrible would have happened,” Gregg said.
In the last few years Hill’s relationship with his children had its ups and downs but, according to Orr, Hill’s longtime manager, Hill had been in touch with them and talked to them regularly. Orr also told ABCNews.com that Hill has another child who lives in Nebraska.
Hill’s Second Career
After moving to Malibu, Hill spent a lot of time at home painting -- a typical scene showed a man being shot and falling off a building. He sold his work on eBay, and even used the internet to market his own spaghetti sauce. But setting up his own website meant opening himself up to abuse, so much so that he established a section called “Threat of the Week.” Hill, who had fully expected to be “whacked,” never stopped looking over his shoulder. In 2010, Hill was inducted into the Museum of the American Gangster in New York City.
Hill Loved Calling Howard Stern
By all accounts by friends, family and the Feds, Henry Hill could never stop talking. One of the people he could not stop dialing was Howard Stern. Hill, who was known for his drinking problems and often sounded inebriated when he called into Stern’s show, was never deterred from calling again and again even as listeners threatened to kill him for his testimony against his former pals. He seemed to get over “the rat” rap and kept dialing. During one visit to Stern’s show posted online, Hill arrived obviously inebriated, asking for a drink with a beer already in his hand. When Stern asked him what happened to his sobriety, he replied, “I slipped. I’m an alcoholic, Howard.”
Hill Still Liked to Watch ‘Goodfellas’
Hill coached Robert De Niro on how to play ruthless mobster Jimmy “the Gent” Burke, whose last name was changed to Conway in the film. He said the actor would call him five or six times a day during filming. “He would call and ask ‘How would Jimmy hold a cigarette? How would Jimmy hold a shot glass? I thought that was kind of weird at the time but he did a great job,” Hill told the Telegraph, adding that he taught De Niro the correct technique for pistol whipping a victim. The result was a film he called “95 percent accurate” and an abiding respect for Liotta, who portrayed Hill in the movie. In a statement to ABCNews.com, Liotta said, “Although I played Henry Hill in the movie ‘Goodfellas,’ I only met him a few short times so I can’t say I knew him but, I do know he lived a complicated life. My heart goes out to his family and may he finally rest in peace.”