Some of the names were changed in the movie Goodfellas, the "movie"
version is in italics.
Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta) was a gangster. Growing up in New York City, he began
his affiliation with the mafia as a teenager, joining Paul Vario's
(Paul Cicero) crew as an errand boy. Vario was a Capo in the Lucchese
Hill was half-Irish, preventing him from being fully inducted as a member
of the mob. Nevertheless, as he matured he began to run with Vario's
crew full-time. He soon became friends with Jimmy "The
Gent" Burke (James "Jimmy" Conway, played by Robert De Niro) and Tommy DeSimone (Tommy
DeVito, played by Joe Pesci), two other associates in Vario's crew.
The crew's most profitable heists came from John F. Kennedy International
Airport, which was known as Idlewild at the time. Cutting deals
with just about everyone there, shipments would mysteriously disappear
from the loading docks of the airport and find their way into the mob's
At Idlewild, Hill was part of the infamous Lufthansa heist, in which
an estimated $8.5 million dollars was stolen from a Lufthansa air cargo
terminal. Jimmy Burke is believed to have masterminded the plan,
with a percentage kicked back up to Vario.
Hill was sent to prison for ten years after beating up a deadbeat in
Florida who owed the crew money. Prison barely was prison
for Hill and the other Mafiosi incarcerated, as they had a private cell,
better food, and preferential treatment from the prison guards (by paying
them off, undoubtably). It was during his imprisonment that Hill
began to dabble in the narcotics trade.
Hill was released after four years, and he picked right back up where
he left off. He began to deal drugs on the outside,
even though Vario hated them and forbid anyone in his crew from dealing
with narcotics. He soon started using the product himself, leading
to a downward spiral that ended in a federal bust of his entire chain and
his arrest in 1980.
With few options, Hill turned state's witness, ratting on Paul Vario,
Jimmy the Gent, and just about everyone else.
He and his wife were given a new identity and placed in the Witness
Protection Program--for two years, at which time Hill was kicked out of
the program due to repeatedly blowing his cover. He divorced his
wife several years later, and he now lives with his long-time girlfriend
somewhere on the West Coast.
Hill's story was first made into a book, Wiseguy, written
by Nicholas Pileggi. Martin Scorsese read it made it into a movie--Goodfellas, released in 1990.
Hill became famous as a result of the movie exposure, which probably doesn't
do him much good since he has to remain in hiding. There is still
a sizeable bounty on his head from within the Mafia.
Henry is a semi-regular caller on The Howard Stern Show, and his bouts
with alcoholism are evident when he calls in completely drunk.
He is still trying to recover, seeking certification as a drug and alcohol
Henry Hill died in a Los Angeles hospital on June 12, 2012, one day after his 69th birthday after suffering a series of heart attacks.