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Author: Subject: The passing of "Hendry" Hill, for you mob buffs

Maximum Peach





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  posted on 6/13/2012 at 03:05 PM
Henry was always good for a laugh when on Howard Stern. Crazy as a shthouse rat too. Turned out to be a rat too!! I can't believe they never got to him.

LOS ANGELES (AP) Henry Hill spent much of his life as a "goodfella," believing his last moment would come with a bullet to the back of his head. In the end he died at a hospital after a long illness, going out like all the average nobodies he once pitied.

Hill, who went from small-time gangster to big-time celebrity when his life as a mobster-turned-FBI informant became the basis for the Martin Scorsese film "Goodfellas," died Tuesday at age 69, longtime girlfriend Lisa Caserta told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Hill had open heart surgery last year and died of complications from longtime heart problems related to smoking, she said.

"He was a good soul towards the end ... he started feeling remorseful," she said.

An associate in New York's Lucchese crime family, Hill told detailed, disturbing and often hilarious tales of life in the mob that first appeared in the 1986 book "Wiseguy: Life in a Mafia Family," by Nicholas Pileggi, a journalist Hill sought out shortly after becoming an informant.

"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 the book, adapted for the screen by Pileggi and Scorsese, became 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 by drugs to turn on his criminal friends and lead the life of a sad suburbanite.

The film became a constantly quoted pop cultural phenomenon that provided the template for the modern gangster story.

In the book and the film he talks about hard it was to lead an ordinary life after years steeped in gangster glamour.

"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. I get to live the rest of my like a schnook."

Unlike older Mafia tales, which focused on family and honor, "Wiseguy" and "Goodfellas" mostly dwelled on how utterly awesome it was to be in the mob on the gangster as rock star at least until the life 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."

Born in Brooklyn to an Irish father and an Italian mother, Hill's life with the mob began at age 11 when he wandered into a cabstand across the street in 1955 looking for work. He soon knew the life of these silk-suited soldiers was for him.

He began running errands for the men at the stand that soon led to small-time crimes. He was first arrested at age 16 for using a stolen credit card in an attempt to buy tires for the brother of gang leader Paul Vario, and impressed the gang leaders for refusing to squeal on them.

Far bigger crimes awaited, including the 1967 theft of $420,000 in cash from the Air France cargo terminal at JFK airport in New York, among the biggest cash heists in history at the time.

And in 1978, Hill had a key role in the theft of $5.8 million in cash from a Lufthansa Airlines vault, a heist masterminded by Jimmy Burke, the inspiration for 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."

But the crew involved in the heist would soon turn on each other, and several would end up dead, leaving Hill extremely paranoid he could be next, he later told Pileggi.

He was also selling drugs behind the back of his boss, Vario, and in 1980 was arrested on a narcotics-trafficking charge.

More afraid of his associates than prison, Hill decided he had no choice but to become an informant, and signed an agreement with a Department of Justice task force that would prove more fruitful than anyone imagined.

"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."

Hill's testimony sent dozens of men to prison, many for the Lufthansa heist, and he and his wife Karen, played by Lorraine Bracco in the movie, went into hiding together, spending years fearing retribution by a gun to the back of his head from his old colleagues.

In the early 1990s, after more drug arrests, Hill was booted from the witness protection program.

His fears for his life waned as many former associates died off, and he led a more public life in later years, appearing in documentaries and becoming a popular call-in guest on Howard Stern's radio show.

His death was first reported by the celebrity website TMZ.

His struggles with substances would continue for most of his life. In 2008 he pleaded guilty in San Bernardino, Calif., to two counts of public intoxication. In 2009, he was arrested in an Illinois suburb of St. Louis on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.

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

Hill summered in Southern California at an extremely modest one-story house in the Topanga Canyon area of the Santa Monica Mountains, with an expansive backyard view of the San Fernando Valley.

Sitting on the back porch, Caserta, 52, and her son, Nate, 24, described the contemporary Hill as a man who maintained a mobster's air of self-assurance and confidence but regretted his gangster past.

An avid painter who contributed his artwork to auctions, he gave money to causes ranging from local police cadets to the homeless, and every Thanksgiving for five years he would dish out food to the poor, said Caserta and her son.

She said Hill was not impressed by wealth or celebrity.

"He had it all twice," she said, referring to his years as a gangster and later as a celebrity.

Her son added: "He cared about family. He didn't care about all that stuff."

Caserta said that Hill, who also had a home in Connecticut, is survived by three sisters, a brother, three children and four grandchildren. She said she could not give their names because they are in witness protection.

Funeral plans were being arranged.

___

 
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Zen Peach



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  posted on 6/13/2012 at 03:26 PM
The most amazing thing about Hill is how long he lived, IMO.

An explosion of interest in the mob was definitely inspired by the book and movie about Hill's story, including David Chase, who used Goodfellas as a primary source of reference when he created The Sopranos.

However, there was another book about Henry Hill that is very sobering and shows the very horrible side of the mob life, written by Hill's kids...



I've read over 30 books about the mob and this one really hammers it home about the toll the life takes on families. Henry Hill was no hero, that's for sure.

 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 6/13/2012 at 03:37 PM
Always thought Hill was the guy on the right in Groening's depiction of the Mob, and Bart was the young Hill when Bart went to work for the Mob.

 

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Well 30 years of heart and soul,lord we took it further than rock and roll.
We stood together thru thick and thin,yeah we made the best of it all back then.
Then I guess time took it's toll,cut me deep,cut me cold.
Brother against brother....

 

True Peach



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  posted on 6/13/2012 at 03:49 PM
Good riddance!!!! He should have been dead years ago. That scum bag rat got to live quite the life being treated like a celebrity from the likes of Howard douche bag Stern. Hope he burns in hell along with the rest of the scum bag criminals that he ratted on.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 6/13/2012 at 04:38 PM
quote:
Good riddance!!!! He should have been dead years ago. That scum bag rat got to live quite the life being treated like a celebrity from the likes of Howard douche bag Stern. Hope he burns in hell along with the rest of the scum bag criminals that he ratted on.


hey calm down it's bidness

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 6/13/2012 at 04:55 PM
And this year's award for the poster with the most creative and numerous uses of the term "scum bag" goes to...

 

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True Peach



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  posted on 6/13/2012 at 10:08 PM
quote:
And this year's award for the poster with the most creative and numerous uses of the term "scum bag" goes to...



 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 6/14/2012 at 08:18 AM
quote:
However, there was another book about Henry Hill that is very sobering and shows the very horrible side of the mob life, written by Hill's kids...




I will have to check that one out. Didn't know they wrote one. I find the books from the kids to be the "real" books about the mob. The one from DiMeos son, which you turned me onto, was great. It shows how destructive the life is for everyone involved. They usually dispell the myth of the glamorous life.

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 6/14/2012 at 09:13 AM
quote:
quote:
However, there was another book about Henry Hill that is very sobering and shows the very horrible side of the mob life, written by Hill's kids...




I will have to check that one out. Didn't know they wrote one. I find the books from the kids to be the "real" books about the mob. The one from DiMeos son, which you turned me onto, was great. It shows how destructive the life is for everyone involved. They usually dispell the myth of the glamorous life.


I can send it to you if you want. I won't read it again. Not the kind of book you read twice.

 

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Zen Peach



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  posted on 6/14/2012 at 11:43 AM
quote:
The most amazing thing about Hill is how long he lived, IMO.

An explosion of interest in the mob was definitely inspired by the book and movie about Hill's story, including David Chase, who used Goodfellas as a primary source of reference when he created The Sopranos.

However, there was another book about Henry Hill that is very sobering and shows the very horrible side of the mob life, written by Hill's kids...



I've read over 30 books about the mob and this one really hammers it home about the toll the life takes on families. Henry Hill was no hero, that's for sure.


I read this book and it shows that Henry Hill was a very bad guy. I also read Hill's followup to the original "Wise Guys." in which he talks about the film and states that Joe Pesci's portrayal of Tommy DiSimone was "rather subdued." A friend of mine knew Tommy growing up and actually had made the same comment. First, that Tommy was extremely handsome and built like a boxer and second that Tommy was a thousand times more crazy that the portrayal of Pesci in the film.

 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 6/14/2012 at 12:16 PM
[quoteI read this book and it shows that Henry Hill was a very bad guy.]


Yes, he was. They pretty much all are. My father's friend wrote a book called The Good Guys. He is a former FBI agent who worked to put Gotti and others away. In the book, he dispells the myth that these guys are nice guys or that they are smart. They are goons. They use violence and intimidation to get their way. Like the great white, when you have big teeth, you don't need a big brain.

[Edited on 6/14/2012 by jim]

 

Zen Peach



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  posted on 6/15/2012 at 11:17 AM
quote:
[quoteI read this book and it shows that Henry Hill was a very bad guy.]


Yes, he was. They pretty much all are. My father's friend wrote a book called The Good Guys. He is a former FBI agent who worked to put Gotti and others away. In the book, he dispells the myth that these guys are nice guys or that they are smart. They are goons. They use violence and intimidation to get their way. Like the great white, when you have big teeth, you don't need a big brain.

[Edited on 6/14/2012 by jim]


There were a few somewhat smart ones. Carlo Gambino was smart. Charlie Luciano was smart. Meyer Lansky was smart. For the most part you are right. They are thugs and gangsterism is anything but victimless. That is the biggest myth of all.

 

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Maximum Peach



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  posted on 6/15/2012 at 12:03 PM
quote:
I can send it to you if you want. I won't read it again. Not the kind of book you read twice.


That would be great. Going to send you a PM shortly with my address.

 

Peach Master



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  posted on 6/19/2012 at 03:56 PM
I agree with sixty and dough. the mobsters were thugs, gangsters and left no victimless people.
If people, innocent, were in the mob's way and had something they wanted, they took it.
I have looked at Mob wives NY adn all these women have had husbands in and out of jail and grew up with fahters, uncles going away sometimes. it is really not funny when wwhen you really think about it.
Their dads died alone, down and out and in jail.
Not funny or a glamourous life.

 
 


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