Ray Liotta became emotional when he proposed to his only wife, but she later turned out to be the wrong person for him. Despite their relationship ending in divorce, his ex gave him something he treasured forever.
Ray Liotta was an actor well-known for his roles in "Field of Dreams" and "Goodfellas." When the star passed away at age 67 on May 26, 2022, he was working on a new project called "Dangerous Waters."
His publicist, Jennifer Allen, was the one who confirmed the heartbreaking news. At the time of his death, the actor was in the Dominican Republic working on a new film.
Ray Liotta in a scene from the film "Dominick and Eugene," circa 1988. | Source: Orion Pictures/Getty Images
In a statement, "Goodfellas'" creator Martin Scorsese shared his devastation and shock about Ray's sudden death. He described the late actor as adventurous, courageous, and "so uniquely gifted."
RAY'S MARRIAGE AT AGE 40
Ray Liotta and Michelle Grace at the "Corrina, Corrina" Los Angeles premiere in Westwood, California, on August 8, 1994. | Source: SGranitz/WireImage/Getty Images
Ray's wife was Michelle Grace, a Chicago, Illinois native, born on December 4, 1968. She was an actress and a producer whose credits included "The Rat Pack" in 1998, where she met Ray, who starred in it.
Michelle also produced "Narc" in 2002, "Knights of the South Bronx" three years later, and "Take The Lead" in 2006. When she and Ray came across each other for the first time, the actress was married to someone else.
Ray Liotta and Michelle Grace at the premiere of "Hannibal" on February 5, 2001, in New York City. | Source: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection/Getty Images
Her husband was Mark Grace, the Chicago Cubs' first baseman. Michelle and Ray only started seeing each other after she and Mark separated, and they hooked up because the actress was looking for an acting coach, the late actor recalled:
"She was asked to do a rap video, and she called me up one day and said, ‘Should I do this video?’"
Michelle Grace and Ray Liotta during "Narc" world premiere at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences in Beverly Hills, California, on December 17, 2002. | Source: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images
Ray's answer to Michelle was quite cunning, with him stating: "And I said, 'No, you should probably have dinner with me.' And we've been together ever since." The couple tied the knot in 1997 in Las Vegas with an Elvis Presley impersonator officiating.
Ray was 40 years old when he married for the first time. In a 2007 The Guardian interview, the star explained that he tended to take long before doing things, and by 40, he was ready to settle down.
The late actor also revealed where he'd chosen to propose to Michelle. He said the proposal occurred at a non-romantic spot, outside a jewelry shop, where he cried while asking for her hand in marriage.
MICHELLE GAVE MEANING TO RAY'S LIFE DESPITE THEM DIVORCING
Ray and Karsen Liotta at the "Shrek the Third" Los Angeles premiere in Westwood, California, on May 6, 2007. | Source: Gregg DeGuire/WireImage/Getty Images
In 2007, Ray's daughter, Karsen Liotta, was eight; the star revealed to The Guardian that "My whole life is about her. Being a dad." He shared how she'd visit him on set, and he couldn't cope if he went long without seeing her.
The actor said he'd spent four months at home and not working so he could spend more time with his daughter. Ray would take Karsen to dance classes and play with her.
Ray and Karsen Liotta at the Los Angeles premiere of "Muppets Most Wanted" on March 11, 2014, in Hollywood, California. | Source: Michael Tran/FilmMagic/Getty Images
Ray shared that his relationship with Michelle didn't work out regarding being spouses. At the time, the former couple had been divorced since 2004, and the actor shared his relationship wishes stating:
"I would love to be in a relationship with the right person. That's the key - the right person."
Ray said the ideal person for him was someone who wasn't career-orientated and more focused on the relationship. He wanted a person who wasn't "at your beck and call" but loved being there for him and in a relationship with all it entailed.
Despite being divorced, the star still described his ex-wife as "a great woman" and revealed they were still friends. Michelle even stayed over at his house so their daughter could see them getting along and together.
He explained that he wanted to give Karsen a semblance of a family unit despite the separation and divorce. In 2015, Ray's daughter was 16; she loved traveling to premieres and movie sets with her father.
Speaking to Teen Vogue, she revealed that she always went with him whenever she had a break. She enjoyed being on location for films and getting to meet different people.
Karsen, born a year after her parents married, was anticipated to follow in her parent's footsteps. In 2014, she had already acted in three school plays and shared how her father had taught her to practice consistently and do her homework.
Ray told her those were the two ingredients she needed to get to where she wanted to. Karsen started acting at the tender age of two when she made her movie debut in "A Rumor of Angels."
Her father guided her in acting when she was a teenager. Ray's child followed in his acting footsteps as an adult by getting to star alongside him in "Shades of Blue's" season 3 and then got a recurring role in the series in 2018.
In 2020, Karsen appeared in "Hubie Halloween" and "Teenage Badass." Besides acting, the late star's daughter also got to do modeling for Brandy Melville, which she started at age 15.
LIOTTA'S VIEWS ON DATING AFTER HIS DIVORCE AND FINDING NEW LOVE
Speaking to The Guardian about relationships, Ray shared how he hoped he wasn't manipulated or the manipulator in romantic settings. He described manipulation as a strong word.
The actor said he believed relationships should be based on a "give and take" system. Ray felt there needed to be a combination of one person having control and the other having the same power at different times.
The star revealed that he believed if he'd found that combination, he might still be in a relationship. Ray shared how he'd dated someone after his divorce but didn't think they were equals.
He felt more vulnerable because of his divorce experience and how he brought particular dynamics from his previous relationship. By 2007, Ray had spent a few years without dating again except for two dates in the past couple of years.
At that point, he was waiting for a relationship to happen, okay, if it didn't, but he hoped that it would. Luckily, fate worked for him, and he finally met someone he fell in love with.
The actor [Ray Liotta] acknowledged how some relationships failed to work during the pandemic lockdowns...
In September 2021, Ray appeared on "Live with Kelly and Ryan" and revealed that Karsen and his fiancée Jacy Nittolo's son met at a party. Ray's daughter suggested Jacy go on a date with her father.
Initially, Jacy didn't want to date an actor, but when she heard Ray's name, she was taken aback but the age gap. The star was in his 60s while she was in her 40s, and Ray was reluctant because Jacy had a 10-year-old, but the child was great!
The pair eventually fell in love, and the actor described her as the "love of my life." The couple got in December 2020, with Ray announcing the fantastic news on Instagram, and in November 2021, the star had this to say about the pandemic:
"Luckily, I had met somebody, and it brought us really, really close, to the point now where I'm engaged."
The actor acknowledged how some relationships failed to work during the pandemic lockdowns but described his as great. Jacy has since shared several Instagram images of her with Ray.
Her last one was in January 2022, when the pair was seen at the beach. In celebrating 2021's Mother's Day, Jacy uploaded a picture alongside the late star's daughter.
Both Jacy and Karsen hadn't posted anything about Ray's death on their social media accounts. It appeared the duo was taking some time to grieve the loss of the late star in private for a while.