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New York mobster Henry Hill, who was the inspiration behind Martin Scorsese’s 1990 classic Goodfellas, has died at the age of 69.
TMZ first reported his death Tuesday. The site spoke to his girlfriend, Lisa, who confirmed that he died on Tuesday at a Los Angeles hospital. The cause of death was an unspecified illness.
“He had been sick for a long time ... his heart gave out,” Lisa told TMZ.
Hill had been trying to rebuild relationships with his family recently and had made progress just before his death, Lisa noted.
The Hollywood Reporter reports that Hill was a onetime associate of the Lucchese New York crime family. One of the family’s most infamous acts was the December 1978 Lufthansa heist at the John F. Kennedy Airport, which he participated in. A record $5 million and $875,000 worth of jewelry were stolen. The heist was dramatized in Goodfellas and was the subject of two made-for-TV movies.
Reporter Nicholas Pileggi wrote about Hill’s life in the 1986 book Wiseguys, which was the basis for Goodfellas. Ray Liotta played Hill in the film.
He later became an FBI informant and spent years in witness protection, although he was kicked out after committing crimes. Recently, he was a frequent Howard Stern Show guest.