I’m an average nobody, get to live the rest of my life

Goodfellas opening credits - “As far back as I can remember, I've always wanted to be a gangster” - music “Rags to Riches” by Tony Bennett

like a schnook.

It didn’t quite pan out like that for Henry Hill the mobster who was the inspiration for the classic Martin Scorsese film “Goodfellas“, who died yesterday the day after his 69th birthday, after a long battle with an undisclosed illness.

Henry Hill mugshot
Henry Hill mugshot 1980

After he entered the witness protection programme for ratting on his associates after his arrest for drug dealing in 1980, Hill spent most of the decade trying to recapture the parts of being a wiseguy he missed. Which lead to him and his family being moved around the U.S. as he got caught up in one illegal scheme or another, all fuelled by drink and drugs, which lead to his whereabouts becoming known to those that wanted him whacked.

That eventually resulted in Henry and his wife Karen being expelled from the protection programme in the early 90s, even though the pair had divorced in 1989. Much of that period is told in detail in the book “On the Run: A Mafia Childhood“, written by the Hill’s two children Gregg and Gina. It’s a good book that gives a different perspective on life in and on the run from the mob.

I imagine some of the media work Hill did since his expulsion from witness protection, and the attention in brought, made up for some of the high life he was missing. But his life was still full of the daemons that dogged him since his arrest, never quite could kick some of those habits.

Don’t suppose it’s the way he expected to go out…

Henry Hill was a standard mob scumbag but “Goodefellas” is still one of the great movies.

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