His family, friends and publicists want the public to believe otherwise, but don’t be fooled.
ray liotta cause of death,Ray Liotta was an actor. He played intense, difficult-to-forget characters in films like “Goodfellas” and “Field of Dreams.” He supposedly died in his sleep on Wednesday night or early Thursday morning. He was working in the Dominican Republic.
According to Liotta’s publicist, Jennifer Allen, he was in the middle of filming a movie, “Dangerous Waters.” He died in his hotel room. She initially said that the cause of death was not yet known. Later it emerged that he died while sleeping. Her account was intentionally ambiguous.
Liotta shuffled off his mortal coil at the age of 67.
Based on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention statistics, Liotta’s life expectancy (that is, the expected average number of years of life remaining at a given age) was 10 years. Dying a decade before one is expected should raise suspicion.
(Some will object that we shouldn’t care how Liotta died. Let the dead rest. Give Liotta his privacy. Unfortunately, if we adopt this principle, we let those who drove Marilyn Monroe to overdose escape punishment. We would also let celebrity overdoses go unreported. Transparency is essential, especially when public figures are involved.)
So, what was the real cause of Liotta’s death? Was there a cover-up?
Liotta’s publicist’s ambiguous account was in all likelihood intended to avoid implicating herself in a cover up. My educated guess is that Liotta’s death was drug related, whether from a lifetime of abusing alcohol or worse, a drug overdose. Typically, the friends and family of those who have overdosed from drugs go to great lengths to hide the true cause of death.
In the Dominican Republic (DR), a wealthy person can easily purchase illegal drugs without exposing themselves to scrutiny. It’s also not too difficult for someone to bribe a coroner to misreport the cause of death. (Note: DR isn’t the only country where hiding one’s drug purchases and misreporting one’s cause of death is possible.)
From playing nice to not-so-nice guys
Liotta was widely recognized for playing the character Joey Perrini on the soap opera “Another World.” He once called the character “the nicest guy in the world.” His future roles were not nearly so nice.
Next, he secured an acting part in the 1986 comic crime story “Something Wild.” His friend, the actress Melanie Griffith, pressured the film’s director, Jonathan Demme, to let him read for the part. He eventually earned the role of her character’s mean-spirited husband, an ex-con.
Liotta played a hustler turned mob rat Henry Hill in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas. It was a memorable performance, if just for his ability to transform from the nice guy of “Another World” into a cold, calculating mobster who turns into a FBI informant. In one part of the film, Henry develops a drug habit and becomes a paranoid mess.
Some commentators noticed Liotta’s gift for perfectly portraying characters who are extreme drug abusers without ever having taken drugs himself. That’s unlikely. Perfect portrayals require perfect emulation. So, what was his method?
Method actors experiment. They live on the streets in preparation for playing the homeless. They gamble large sums of money in order to explore the role of a professional gambler. They take drugs in advance of playing a junkie on screen.
(Note: It’s of course possible to act in a role without perfectly emulating the character portrayed. Emulating a serial killer isn’t feasible, unless the actor wishes to end up in jail for life. In other words, there are limits to method acting. I’m not denyng this obvious fact.)
With sufficient means, it’s possible for a method actor to experiment with drugs, to develop an addiction, to recover from it and to cover the whole matter up. It’s even possible for a methdo actor to die of an overdose, and for his publicist, friends and family to make sure nobody else knows the truth. It’s also possible to pay a coroner to call a death from overdose death by natural causes (or dying in one’s sleep). It’s even easier in a third-world Carribean country like the Dominican Republic.
Rumors and hearsay
Hearsay recently emerged on Twitter that Liotta had a cocaine addiction. It’s also widely rumored that he’s struggled with alcoholism. (In a 2016 Good Morning Britain interview, he appeared “haggard and flustered — to the extent that many viewers assumed he was drunk.”)
Liotta’s last completed film project, titled “Cocaine Bear,” is based on a true story. In 1985, a 175-pound black bear was found next to a duffel bag on a drug smuggler’s plane that had once been filled with more than 70 pounds of cocaine. It wasn’t known whether the bear consumed the cocaine or it was hurled from the plane.
It’s possible that Liotta’s commitment to method acting — coupled with his willingness to try or even become addicted to drugs — was the actual cause of death. It’s also possible that years of drinking alcohol caught up with him, resulting in liver failure.
We’ll probably never know for sure. But these are reasonable inferences based on the facts. Given what we know of the case, this account explains the outcome better than the he-died-in-his-sleep account. (Recall that Liotta died 10 years prior to the average life expectancy, so death by natura causes is unlikely.)
Opioids, false statistics and non-sequiturs
Of course, the friends, family and publicists would rather that the public believe Liotta died in his sleep. They want us to think that he died of natural causes. If he had lived to 77 years of age or thereabouts, this explanation would be plausible.
Similar accounts abound when people — whether public figures or average folks — overdose on opioids. It’s one of the reasons that the problem of opioid addiction exploded into an epidemic with few, except those personally affected, being aware of how widespread the problem was. The statistics were — and still are — underreported.
(Note: As I mentioned earlier, the objection that it doesn’t matter how Liotta died is a non-sequitur. It’s also a typical objection that propagandists make when presented with proof that they’re spreading disinformation. The truth doesn’t matter. Unfortunately it does, especially if the person is a public figure and full transparency could bring awareness to a pressing social problem — in this case, drug addiction.)