By |14 Sep 2023 at 12:13 AM
Mobster Henry Hill

A heartbreaking Mobster Henry Hill Obituary: Henry Hill, whose life as a gangster turned FBI informant inspired Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas,” died on Tuesday. He was 69 years old. Hill’s demise was attributed to long-standing cardiac problems brought on by his smoking, according to his long-term partner Lisa Caserta, who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Henry Hill, whose life as a gangster turned FBI informant inspired Martin Scorsese’s “Goodfellas,” died. He had 69 years of age. According to his long-term companion Lisa Caserta, who spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday, Hill’s death was attributable to long-standing cardiac problems brought on by his smoking.

“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, Pileggi and Scorsese adapted the book into 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 to turn on his criminal friends and lead the life of a sad suburbanite due to drug addiction.

The film is often cited as a cultural touchstone since it established the standard for contemporary gangster films. In contrast to earlier Mafia stories, which emphasised family and honour, “Wiseguy” and “Goodfellas” concentrated on the gangster as a rock star and how great it was to live the life of a criminal until the consequences caught up with you.

“As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster,” Liotta, as Hill, says in the movie. “For us to live any other way was nuts.”

Hill, who was born in Brooklyn to an Irish father and an Italian mother in 1955, encountered his first mob associates at age 11 when he went to a cab stand across the street looking for work.

“The men at the cabstand were not like anyone else from the neighborhood,” Pileggi wrote. “He had watched them double-park their cars and never get tickets, even when they parked smack in front of a fire hydrant.”

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He began doing odd tasks for the stand’s employees, which led to theft and other misdeeds. At age 16, he was discovered trying to use a stolen credit card to buy tyres for Paul Vario’s brother. His refusal to become an informant delighted the gang’s higher-ups.

The 1967 theft of $420,000 in cash from the Air France cargo terminal at New York’s JFK airport was one of the largest cash thefts in history, but worse offences were to come.

In 1978, Hill played a significant role in the theft of $5.8 million in currency from a Lufthansa Airlines vault, which was orchestrated by Jimmy Burke, the real-life mobster who inspired Robert De Niro’s character in “Goodfellas.”

“Whenever we needed money, we’d rob the airport,” Liotta says in the movie. “To us, it was better than Citibank.

Later, Hill revealed to Pileggi that he feared he would be the next victim after the robbery crew turned on each other and murdered several people. In 1980, he was imprisoned for drug trafficking after selling cocaine behind the back of his employer Vario.

Hill was more concerned about his associates than he was about going to prison, so he signed an agreement with a Department of Justice task force that proved more fruitful than anyone had anticipated.

“The arrest of Henry Hill was a price beyond measure,” Pileggi wrote.” ”Hill had grown up in the mob. He was only a mechanic, but he knew everything. He knew how it worked. He knew who oiled the machinery. He knew, literally, where the bodies were buried. If he talked, police knew that Henry Hill could give them the key to dozens of indictments and convictions.”

After Hill’s testimony sent hundreds of men to prison, including those involved in the Lufthansa robbery, he and his wife Karen (portrayed by Lorraine Bracco in the film) fled into hiding, where they remained for years as Hill lived in constant fear that one of his former coworkers would return and put a gun to his head.

Hill was no longer permitted to remain in the witness protection programme after several additional drug-related offences in the early 1990s. As his previous associates passed away, he became less fearful for his safety and began leading a more open life, appearing in documentaries and calling Howard Stern’s radio show frequently.

TMZ was the first media outlet to report his death. His substance abuse issues would plague him for the majority of his existence. In 2008, he pled guilty in San Bernardino, California, to two counts of public intoxication. In 2009, he was arrested in St. Louis for allegedly resisting arrest and engaging in disorderly conduct.

“I’ve been on every drug humanly possible, and I can’t get a handle on alcohol,” he to ld The Associated Press in 2009. “I’ll go two, two and a half years, and I don’t know what triggers me.”

After a life of criminal excess, his struggles to return to normalcy are depicted in both the novel and the film.

“I had paper bags filled with jewelry stashed in the kitchen. I had a sugar bowl full of coke next to the bed. Anything I wanted was a phone call away,” Hill says in the film. “Today, everything is different. There’s no action. I have to wait around like everyone else. Can’t even get decent food. Right after I got here I ordered some spaghetti with marinara sauce, and I got egg noodles and ketchup. I’m an average nobody.”