Initially, the pair was hesitant to date each other, with Nittolo being worried about the age difference and Liotta about her young child.
Ray Liotta passed away in his sleep on Thursday at the age of 67. The Goodfellas actor is survived by fiancée Jacy Nittolo, her four kids, and his daughter Karsen, 23, whom he shared with ex-wife Michelle Grace. Liotta got engaged to Nittolo in December 2020 and described her as the "love of my life." It was Liotta's daughter Karsen who set the pair up. Liotta announced his engagement to Nittolo on Instagram. "Christmas wishes do come true. I asked the love of my life to marry me, and thank God she said yes!!!" he wrote. The pandemic brought them really close and the pair ended up getting engaged. "Luckily, I had met somebody, and it brought us really, really close, to the point now where I'm engaged," he told PEOPLE. Liotta felt it was a sign of great chemistry and camaraderie that they could spend so much time with each other and be so comfortable. "So I like to think that was the reason. I've heard that there's a lot of people whose relationships didn't work out because they were with each other so much. But she's just great," he added.
Liotta revealed on Live with Kelly and Ryan that it was his daughter who set them up. Karsen and Nittolo's son are roughly the same age and met at a party where she told Nittolo to go on a date with her movie-star dad. Nittolo didn't even follow up on his identity and immediately rejected the idea, saying she wanted "nothing to do with" an actor "whatsoever," said Liotta. When she heard it was Liotta, the first thing that came to her mind was the age gap. "She said, 'Wait a second though, isn't he, like, in his 60s? I'm in my 40s,'" he recalled.
Liotta admitted he was also hesitant but for a different reason. "The buzz-kill for me was she also had a 10-year-old. When you're in your 60s, the last thing that you want is a 10-year-old. Luckily this kid is very cool!" he said. The last photo that Nittolo shared on Instagram is from January 25, and showed herself and Liotta at the beach. The second picture showed them sharing a kiss.
Family holds a special place in Liotta's heart, especially given his upbringing. He was abandoned by his birth parents and was adopted from an orphanage as a baby by a New Jersey couple—Alfred, an auto parts store owner, and Mary. Liotta had long harbored anger towards his birth parents but when he finally got to meet his birth mother, he felt it was the best decision she could have made, all things considered. "At first, I didn't understand how a parent could give up a child," he said. "So I had that kind of energy of just being like, that's f**ked up. And then when I finally met my birth mom in my 40s, by then, I wasn't as angry about it. It's just another journey. After years, you grow up, and you just see the pattern of things. I've definitely developed more patience. Now, I'm grateful for my health. And being born. For my parents that adopted me. I mean, it could have gone a lot of different ways," he said.
Liotta was incredibly close to his adoptive parents and proud of them. One of the toughest moments came during one of his best acting periods. He was starring in the 1990 gangster movie Goodfellas, a role that many would say was the pinnacle of Liotta's career when his adoptive mother died of cancer. As his mother's condition deteriorated, he rushed from the set of Goodfellas to be by his mother's side. He got to spend her final moments with her and she died in his arms.
Cover Image source: Getty Images | Photo by Phillip Faraone