Adopted when he was a six months old, Ray is a graduate of Union High School in Union, New Jersey. He put himself through the University of Miami by working in a cemetery. He got his acting start on TV in the soap Another World and on the TV version of the classic movie Casablanca. His best-known films are Something Wild, Field of Dreams, Goodfellas, Operation Dumbo Drop, Blow, and Narc. He is the father of child actress Karsen Liotta and was married to Michelle Grace from 1997 to 2004.
As a tribute to him, the British rock band Linoleum recorded a song called "Ray Liotta" on their 1997 album "Dissent."