September 19

This Day in History

Hollywood

Sep 19, 1990:

Goodfellas opens

On this day in 1990, the Martin Scorsese-directed Mafia film Goodfellas, starring Ray Liotta, Robert De Niro, Lorraine Bracco and Joe Pesci, opens in theaters around the United States. The movie, which was based on the best-selling 1986 book Wiseguy, by the New York crime reporter Nicholas Pileggi, tells the true story of the mobster-turned-FBI informant Henry Hill (Liotta), from the 1950s to the 1980s. Goodfellas earned six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Director. Pesci won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his performance as the psychotic mobster Tommy DeVito.

Martin Scorsese, who was born on November 17, 1942, in New York City, received critical acclaim for one of his earliest films, Mean Streets (1973), which marked the first time he worked with Robert De Niro. The two men also collaborated on Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980) and The King of Comedy (1982). Following Goodfellas, in which De Niro played the Irish mobster Jimmy Conaway, the actor collaborated with Scorsese on Cape Fear (1991), which co-starred Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange, and Casino (1995), which was co-written by Pileggi and co-starred Pesci and Sharon Stone. Scorsese’s movie credits also include Gangs of New York (2002), The Aviator (2004) and The Departed (2006), which earned him his first Best Director Oscar after five previous nominations in the same category.

Prior to co-starring in Goodfellas, Ray Liotta, who was born on December 18, 1954, appeared in such films as Something Wild (1986), with Melanie Griffith and Jeff Daniels, and Field of Dreams (1989), with Kevin Costner. Liotta’s later credits include Cop Land (1997), with Sylvester Stallone, Hannibal (2001), with Anthony Hopkins, and Narc (2002).

Joe Pesci, who was born on February 9, 1943, appeared in such movies as Raging Bull, Once Upon a Time in America (1984) and Lethal Weapon 2 (1989) before his award-winning performance in Goodfellas. His later film credits include the blockbuster Home Alone (1990), in which he played a bumbling burglar; the comedy My Cousin Vinny (1992), with Marisa Tomei; and A Bronx Tale (1993), which marked Robert De Niro’s directorial debut.

Lorraine Bracco, who was born on October 2, 1954, earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her performance in Goodfellas as Henry Hill’s wife, Karen. Bracco, who began her career as a model, later appeared in such movies as Someone to Watch Over Me (1987), Radio Flyer (1992), The Basketball Diaries (1995), with Leonardo DiCaprio, and Riding in Cars with Boys (2001). She is perhaps best known for her role as Tony Soprano’s psychiatrist Dr. Jennifer Melfi on the hit HBO series The Sopranos, which originally aired from 1999 to 2007.

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