Karen Hill ended up involved in her husband’s criminal activities, but what happened to her in real life after the events of Goodfellas?
Goodfellas tells the life of Henry Hill and his work with the mob – but what happened to the real-life Karen Hill after the events of Goodfellas? Karen did her best to stay away from that world, but she eventually was in danger from Goodfellas‘ real-life gangsters. Martin Scorsese has become one of the most respected filmmakers in the industry, and while he has explored different genres, Scorsese is best known for his gangster films. These are usually centered on the Italian-American identity and touch on themes like redemption and guilt, and the one considered as his best gangster movie is Goodfellas.
Released in 1990, Goodfellas is based on the book Wiseguy by Nicholas Pileggi, which chronicles the life of mafia mobster turned informant, Henry Hill. Goodfellas follows his rise and fall in the mob, from his days as a teenager fascinated by the criminal life and mafia presence in his Italian-American neighborhood in Brooklyn, to his involvement in the Lufthansa heist and his decision to become an FBI informant. Goodfellas didn’t leave Henry’s personal life behind and included his wife, Karen Hill (Lorraine Bracco), in the story. Karen is initially troubled by Henry’s criminal activities, but she is eventually drawn to the glamorous lifestyle that comes with being a mobster’s wife.
Though Karen stays away from Henry’s dangerous businesses, she ends up involved in them after Henry is sent to jail and begins to sell drugs while in prison. When he gets out, Henry continues expanding his drug business against Paulie’s orders, with Goodfellas‘ Karen taking part in the whole mess. In 1980, Henry is arrested again and Karen quickly flushes $60,000 worth of cocaine down the toilet so the FBI wouldn’t find it, leaving them broke. After Jimmy Conway (Robert De Niro) plans to have her and Henry killed, they enroll in the witness protection program, with Henry serving as an informant. Goodfellas‘ end title cards reveal that Henry and Karen Hill separated in 1989 after 25 years of marriage – and unlike Henry, Karen stayed away from the criminal life. But what became of the real-life Karen Hill after the events of Goodfellas?
What Happened To The Real Karen From Goodfellas
Under the witness protection program, Karen Hill, Henry, and their two children moved around several undisclosed locations, including Seattle, Washington, Omaha, and Nebraska. Goodfellas‘ Henry and Karen Hill last lived together in Rockville Centre, and she filed for divorce in 1990, which was finalized in 2002. Sadly, due to Henry’s continuous crimes while in witness protection, they were expelled from the program in the early 1990s. Since then, Karen Hill has remained as far from the spotlight as possible and continued using an alias to protect her and her children’s identities. While Henry remarried and had another child, it’s unknown if Karen did the same, as details about her life are not public.
Karen Hill got to share her version of her family’s experience with the mafia in the book On the Run: A Mafia Childhood, written by her children and published in 2004. In it, Karen reveals she found mob life to be glamorous, but once she got involved in it, she realized there was nothing luxurious about it. Although Henry Hill had a complicated life after Goodfellas‘ true story, Karen’s wasn’t easy either, as she ended up carrying the weight of her family and their past after they had to be removed from witness protection.
Was Jimmy Going To Whack Karen?
Henry and Karen Hill end Goodfellas in witness protection after Jimmy makes a few unusual requests, prompting a paranoid Henry to believe he and his wife are getting whacked in the very near future. Karen, meanwhile, becomes suspicious when Jimmy asks her to enter a darkened shop to pick up some “dresses.” But while Jimmy was undoubtedly vexed by the Hills’ recklessness, was he really planning to kill Karen in Goodfellas?
Martin Scorsese dresses up Jimmy and Karen’s dress shop scene to look as shady as possible. There’s a menace behind Robert De Niro’s trustworthy voice, and the locale isn’t especially welcoming. Staff inside are whispering among themselves, and Jimmy’s reaction suggests this isn’t just about a gift being turned down. Street signs reading “Don’t Walk” and “One Way” further hint toward a sticky end for Karen Hill. At this point in Goodfellas, Jimmy is also entering a rapid downward spiral, bumping off anyone who could possibly implicate him in the Lufthansa heist, and it’s certainly not beyond his moral spectrum to kill Henry and Karen Hill, despite their long history together. Jimmy Conway planning to kill Karen also aligns with the Goodfellas true story. Nicholas Pileggi’s Wiseguy recounts the real life of Henry Hill, and confirms the entire family were under threat from their former friends in the mob.
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