After his breakthrough role in 1990’s Goodfellas, Ray Liotta was often typecast as gangsters and found roles in Mafia related movies. 1998’s TV movie The Rat Pack, in which Liotta played legendary blue-eyed crooner and Hollywood star Frank Sinatra may seem unrelated at first. However, Sinatra’s alleged connections to the mob are the stuff of legend.
Frank Sinatra famously became embroiled in The Godfather, due to writer Mario Puzo having created a character who appeared to be based on Sinatra called Johnny Fontane. Fontane uses his mob connections to further his career, hence Sinatra’s anger. Sinatra got into an altercation with Puzo over the character in a restaurant, witnessed by Al Ruddy (producer of The Godfather).
It turns out Sinatra’s daughters were also not above intimidation tactics. Liotta told Jay Leno; “We were doing [The Rat Pack] and I got delivered a horse’s head. Obviously, it wasn’t a real one, but it was a horse’s head. And, you know, a horse’s head means you’re toast. It turned out that [Sinatra’s] daughters sent it and said, ‘Oh, you could do this one [the TV movie], but you couldn’t do the one [mini-series about Sinatra] that we wanted you to?’”
It’s ironic, given Sinatra’s distaste for The Godfather, that his daughters used the horse’s head intimidation tactic which is famously used in that very drama movie. 2022’s drama series The Offer was about the making of The Godfather, and starred Patrick Gallo as Mario Puzo and Miles Teller as Al Ruddy. Frank John Hughes played Frank Sinatra, Anthony Ippolito played Al Pacino, and Justin Chambers played Marlon Brando.
In The Rat Pack, Don Cheadle plays Sammy Davis Jr, Joe Mantegna plays Dean Martin, and Angus Macfadyen plays Peter Lawford. Ray Liotta and his Goodfellas co-star Paul Sorvino both sadly passed away in 2022. One of Liotta’s last roles was in the unlikely movie based on a true story, Cocaine Bear.
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