Posted in Women Who Wow Wednesday

Karen Hill

Ignored as a date, Karen gives him another chance. Couldn’t stand him, obnoxious, fidgeting around—that’s what she thinks of her future husband. Promises to meet him again on a Friday night and he stands her up.

Lorraine Bracco as Karen Hill in Goodfellas
Lorraine Bracco as Karen Hill in Goodfellas

“You’ve got some nerve standing me up. Nobody does that to me. Who do you think you are, Frankie Valli or some kind of big shot?”

Henry Hill tries reasoning with her telling her he thought it was the following Friday.

“It was this Friday and you agreed, so you’re a liar!”

On their first date, Henry takes Karen on a whirlwind trip through the service entrance of the fanciest restaurant in town. A special table at the front, fine food, a live show with the king of the one-liners, she didn’t know what to think. Henry pays for everything in cash. They even have Bobby Vinton sending them a bottle of the finest champagne.

One day, Karen calls Henry, screaming the boy across the street pushed her out of a car when she wouldn’t respond to his advances.

“He started to touch me. He started to grab me. I told him to stop. He didn’t stop. I hit him back. And then he got really angry.”

Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco
Ray Liotta and Lorraine Bracco

Henry takes care of it. He marches across the street and pistol-whips the boy ten times, breaking the kid’s nose. To make his point, after having some words with him, Henry pounds the kid one last time.

“I know there are women, like my best friends who would have gotten out the minute their boyfriend gave them a gun to hide. But I didn’t. I’ve got to admit the truth. It turned me on.”

The couple marries and things change quickly. She realizes she’d married into two families.

“We weren’t married to nine-to-five guys. But the first time I realized how different was when Mickey had a hostess party. They had bad skin and wore too much makeup. They didn’t look very good. They looked beat-up. They talked about how rotten their kids were and about beating them with broom handles and belts. When Henry picked me up, I was dizzy. I don’t know if I could live like that.”

Whatever Karen thinks of her new family, she reasons around the quirks.

“Being together all the time made everything seem all the more normal.”

What normal is, is what normal does.

“We always did everything together, and we always were in the same crowd. Anniversaries, christenings. We only went to each other’s houses.”

And this is where I come in. I write my Women Who Wow Wednesday series in the context of strong women who stand on their own two feet. Fighters, if you will, who aren’t afraid of taking on someone or something greater than themselves. Although Goodfellas comes from a true story, characterization of real people is inevitable. Karen Hill falls into that category.

For a while, she plays by the rules, respecting her husband, keeping the status quo with his crew. But it’s that ability to think for herself that gets her in trouble. More to the point, her ability to go against the flow makes her unique. In a world of murder, deceit and betrayal, Karen demonstrates a strong conviction to do what she thinks is right.

In the end, isn’t that what matters?

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Have you seen Goodfellas? What do you think of Karen?