A variety of gangsters from the 1970s and 1980s were presented to viewers in the film Goodfellas, including James Burke's real-life counterpart Jimmy Conway, who was portrayed by Robert De Niro. Since the narrative is seen through Henry Hill's (Ray Liotta) eyes, viewers may get to know all of his friends and family, particularly Jimmy. So what actually happened to him following the events of the film? The gangster films directed by Martin Scorsese, including Mean Streets and Goodfellas, examine themes including guilt, redemption, and the Italian-American identity.
Goodfellas, which is based on Nicholas Pileggi's novel Wiseguy, tells the story of mafia associate Henry Hill from his childhood years growing up in a working-class Italian-American neighbourhood in Brooklyn to his participation in the Lufthansa robbery and choice to become an FBI informant. Through the years, Henry interacted with several strong and deadly gangsters, including Conway, who he had known and worked with since he was a youngster.
The names of several other real-life gangsters were changed for the movie even though Henry Hill was a real figure. For instance, Jimmy Conway was really James Burke, often known as Jimmy the Gent. Following the events of Goodfellas, Burke's life as a criminal developed in the following ways, which were depicted in the movie.
Jimmy Conway's Life After the Events of the Film Goodfellas
Henry enlists as an informant and enrols his family in the witness protection programme towards the conclusion of Goodfellas. Henry provides the FBI with all the information they require regarding Jimmy (real name James Burke) and Paul Cicero in order to escape being arrested or assassinated by Jimmy Conway and others (Paul Sorvino). His testimony is sufficient to lead to both men's arrests and convictions. The film finishes with title cards that reveal Jimmy was serving a 20-years-to-life term in New York and would be released in 2004 and that Paulie passed away in the late 1980s in Forth Worth Federal Prison.
In reality, Hill did speak enough to get Jimmy and Paul—Paul Vario was Jimmy's real-life counterpart—thrown in jail. Jimmy was a key player in the Lufthansa heist, the murder of wealthy businessman William "Billy Batts" Bentvena, and numerous other murders and crimes, but in 1982 he was found guilty of conspiracy and given a 12-year prison term for his part in the Boston College basketball point-shaving scandal during the 1978–1979 season (two years prior, he was arrested for a parole violation). Henry provided evidence about Jimmy's murder of a drug dealer in 1979 when he was inside, and for that, he was given an additional 20 years in jail in 1985. In March 2004, Jimmy would have been eligible for parole, but that never materialised. Jimmy acquired cancer while serving his sentence at the Wende Correctional Facility in New York; he passed away in April 1996 at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute.
What Jimmy Conway's Life Changed as a result of Goodfellas
The Goodfellas character Jimmy Conway/James Burke underwent a few more alterations in addition to changing his last name. For instance, the actual events of one of the major crimes shown in the movie, the Air France heist, were different. There was a lot more preparation necessary than just waiting for Frenchy McMahon to hand over the keys. James and the crew came to the conclusion that the security guard had a specific weakness for ladies after conducting extensive monitoring. So they transported him to a motel where he would meet a prostitute after getting him very drunk. He refused to be bought off, so they were able to steal the keys from his jeans while he was preoccupied. Instead of Tommy acting violently out of the blue by himself, the true murder of Billy Batts also involved James Burke and was more planned. While Batts was incarcerated, James Burke had actually taken over the loan shark operation. James was adamant about keeping the company going when Batts was released from prison. The Suite, Henry's tavern, was designated as the location of the initial hit. He wasn't shot, he was stabbed several times.
Jimmy "the Gent" Burke has been portrayed in popular culture more than once; in addition to John Mahoney's portrayal of him in the television film The 10 Million Dollar Getaway and Donald Sutherland's in The Big Heist, he has also been the subject of numerous documentaries and novels. James Burke, aka Jimmy Conway, had a difficult past and was a dangerous man. Goodfellas did a wonderful job of capturing some of his best moments through the eyes of one of his closest associates.