Goodfella Henry Hill
COMING SOON: Reddit IAMA with Ro Hurley on Henry Hill
Let's get this out of the way before I'm bombarded with emails ... Henry Hill ratted out the mob. He's a rat fink, a tattle-tail, a snitch nigga. So fucking what? These guys were murderers, extortionists, and drug dealers (not that that's a bad thing). And most of them are dead now. So who fucking cares?
The beauty of Henry Hill is that he was a dyslexic kid from Brooklyn who rose to the top ranks of the mob and had a movie about his life directed by Martin Scorsese. Not bad for a rat fink, huh?
Here are some epic scenes from the movie "Goodfellas" :
Here is some recent footage I shot of Henry and his friend Grant:
Henry Hill was a Sicilian/Irish kid from Brooklyn. While still in his teens, Henry met Paul Vario who was a "capo" in the Lucchese crime family. Vario and Lucchese family associate Jimmy Burke recruited Henry into the mob where Henry quickly became part if the inner circle and was privy to the mob's darkest secrets.
Eventually Henry and the mob had a falling out, and Henry realized that he faced possible execution. To save himself and his family, Henry turned into an FBI informant, and his testimony led to at least 50 mob-related convictions.
But why am I telling you this? Rent the DVD "Goodfellas" to get the whole story. You won't be disappointed.
I'd like to thank Henry's fiance Lisa Caserta for her help with this article. She's a great woman. Thanks, Lisa!
What makes him ZZZlist material?
Ro Hurley: Henry, are you sure you're up for this?
Henry Hill: Yeah, yeah.
Okay. You sound a little better now.
I just walked in. I just come from the doctors.
So now tell me how you broke your leg. What did you do?
Oh, I tripped, believe it or not. But I broke it good.
Oh, no. Where did you break it?
Yeah. No, it's the back part of the Achilles. It just happened. I was getting off a bus.
Thank you. Anyway, so go ahead.
You know Larry Flynt?
Yeah, I met him a couple times.
Do you ever hang out with him?
He wanted me to go play cards on Wednesday night with him at this casino. And I just said, I don't gamble much anymore, so I just wasn't, you know.
So how are you doing? Are you on the wagon now? Because I was reading that Ray Liotta wanted you to go through rehab last year.
Yeah, and then Ray Liotta got drunk.
So tell me what about your restaurant, it caught on fire the other day.
Yeah, yeah. I haven't even spoke to the guy who owns the place, primarily because I don't know how much damage is there. It's a beautiful place too.
Yeah. They said that there was--the attic was damaged, and it was water damage. And I was just wondering if you thought it was arson.
No, no. Actually, they were working on the heating system, and I don't know, somehow it caught fire.
What is your involvement with the restaurant? Is it your recipes?
Yeah, yeah. All I did was lend them my recipes. It's all my mother's recipes I had in my cookbook, "The Wise Guy Cookbook."
Well, I'm dying to try it. Now, I had a friend who ordered your gravy, and he loved it.
We have Sunday gravy. It's called Sunday gravy.
Are you still selling that online?
We're selling it online, yeah. It should be in the stores pretty soon. You know, all like Whole Foods, all natural food stores.
So now what do you do with your day now?
I paint. I do my mob art on eBay. I sell it on eBay, and that's how most of my day goes. I'm working on a few scripts. I'm working on another cookbook and another book of--it's a script book. It's a script from "GoodFellas." It's about a year away, and so is the other cookbook is about a year away.
So is it like a continuation of "GoodFellas"?
No, no. Actually, it goes through every scene, and I comment on it. We just finished a script about the "Final Four," about the Boston basketball scandal.
Yeah, I was reading about that earlier. So it's finished now?
Yeah. We're just tightening it up a little bit. And I'm doing a little script doctoring and stuff. Mainly I spend most of my time on eBay, just doing that artwork.
Doing the artwork on eBay. Do you make a lot of money doing your artwork?
Not really. You know, I just knock them out real fast. I do real nice artwork when I feel like it, but this stuff is just, you know, it pays the bills. So I just--you know, I bang out 10/15 a day sometimes.
I love them, actually. I've been watching them on eBay, and it seems that people really go crazy over the gun pictures. It's like the palm trees and everything are nice, but people just want that blood and gore, you know. I guess that's your image.
If I have one. As much--listen, I cannot--I can't erase my past. I own my past. I'm not proud of it, you know.
Does it ever keep you up at night? I mean, do you ever feel--because I know it's rumored that you were involved in some murders for the mob, mob-related murders.
Uh-huh. I never killed anyone. I've buried quite a few bodies but, you know, occasionally I'll have a little nightmare in there, but I'm very safe these days. I'm very, very safe these days. I don't worry too much about it.
You don't seem like you're overly paranoid about your own safety. It's almost like that's, you know, it's kind of behind you at this point.
Well, all those people are dead. So I don't worry about it. Today, I get wiseguys coming up to me and asking me: Listen, hey I got this script, maybe you could help me with it. Or I want to do a book, maybe you could help me with it. It's kind of weird. My life has went in a complete circle, from being a bad fellow to a good fellow.
And now you're pretty much respected, and you've kind of, in a way, made amends, you know?
And I try to. I do something else for the FBI, something else for the sheriff's department out here in California. Anybody that asks. You know, I talk at a lot of schools, and I try to help kids. I just try to do the right thing.
Now, when you saw "GoodFellas," were you pleased with how Ray Liotta portrayed you? Did you feel that the part was you?
I've got to tell you, he should have gotten an Academy Award. He should have got at least nominated for one, and he didn't.
Did he study with you before?
Well, you know, Scorsese didn't want him to. He had never directed him before, and he wanted--he didn't want me to influence him in any way. But after the movie was over, we had dinner a couple of times. I became friendly with him. He's a really, really wonderful kid.
Now, I have some questions related to the mob. I wanted to ask you, you were involved in the Italian mob, but you're basically Irish, correct?
I'm half Irish, half Italian. My mother was born in Sicily. My father was born in Ireland.
So you're half and half. Now, did you interact at all with the Irish mob families?
Jimmy Burke, who was a full-blooded Irishman, he was real friendly with all the Westies, you know. And they used to come to our clubs, and we used to go up there once in a while.
How did they react to you, though, when you--because you were so involved with the Italians? Was there any animosity or anything?
Oh, not at all. They used to do a lot of work for the Italians, the Irish mob, the Westies. And like Jimmy was like the head of the Irish mob, basically. I mean, they respected us and, you know, loved us. But they did a lot of work for all of the Italian families, the Irish guys.
So if it was like from the food chain, the Italians were kind of really overseeing all of it, and the Irish worked for them?
Yes, that's exactly how it worked.
Gotcha. Now, have there ever been any real serious attempts on your life, after you turned informant, or just threats?
There's been a lot of threats, but not any of them personal. It was a lot of stuff that the FBI picked up from informants or the Witness Protection Program people picked it up from wiretaps or, you know, whatever.
So they would basically nip it in the bud before it got to the point where it was any threat to you.
Oh, yeah, I moved more than half--I don't know probably 15 times. I can't even remember.
So of all the things that you've done in your career--okay, you were a mobster, you've written books, you've done movies, you paint. I mean, you've done almost everything. What do you think you're most famous for?
What am I most famous for? Probably being an ex-mobster, an informant, if that's what you want to call it. I'll tell you, I don't know. My two passions are painting and cooking.
Now, if you could do anything in your past over, what would you do?
What would I do? I'd go to Yale. [Laughing.]
While you're in the mob or no?
You'd skip the mob and go straight to Yale. What would you study?
I don't know. I was dyslexic as a kid. I'm still dyslexic. Well, I've got a college degree but not from Yale.
Now, is there anything else that we haven't talked about that you'd like to put out there, that you can tell us about yourself that we don't know or that you'd just like to mention?
Oh, well, we have a TV show in the hopper, a reality show. We just finished the trailer. So that's going to keep me busy for hopefully a couple years.
Wow. And so the camera is going to follow you around in your crazy life.
Exactly; you know, what I'm doing with my scripts and what I'm doing with my cookbooks.
Oh, you know what? I know, I'd like to squeeze in a question about Howard Stern.
I love the guy. I'm always on his show. In fact, "The Final Four," we're hoping that he takes it. You know, he's got a big production company. I mentioned it to him. He's just waiting for the final script to be doctored up.
Now, I notice a lot of the subjects of your paintings are you and Howard or you and Artie and it's actually kind of sweet, you know, that you feel so fondly towards them.
Well, he's a great guy, and so is everybody else on his show. I mean, he does a lot of good that people don't even know about. A lot of people still hate him for his antics on TV and radio, but he's a great guy. He gives a lot back.
But you can probably relate to him and his antics, right?
Oh, yeah. We have a lot of fun when I'm on there. You know, I'm on there at least once or twice a month.
Now, when you die, what do you want your legacy to be? Like if somebody remembers you 50, 100 years from now, what do you want them to remember you for?
That no matter how bad you are, you can change your life and become a good fellow. And that's what I've talked to these kids about; you know, all these knucklehead kids. That that's not the lifestyle. It's a dead-end street. Stay in school, stay in school, stay in school, just stay in school because you can become anything. No matter how far entrenched you are in gangs or whatever or the mob, whatever clique you're in, you can always, always dig yourself out of that hole and not be put in a hole and make something of your life. It's never that bad. And at times I thought it was, but I was all screwed up. You get entrenched in those gangs, those subcultures that are out there with these kids, and they think that that's the only way they can go because, you know, that they're from the barrio or the neighborhood, you know, or wherever they're from, inner cities. That's not true. You can always better yourself. Something like that, you know, that's what I'd like to leave behind.