May 19, 2017, marked the 25th anniversary of Merrick teenager Amy Fisher’s shooting of Mary Jo Buttafuoco, the wife of Fisher’s lover Joey Buttafuoco, at the married couple’s Massapequa home. Mary Jo survived, and the “Long Island Lolita,” as the then 17-year-old Fisher became known, went to prison for seven years — and became the subject of three TV movies.
Hers is just one of many Long Island true crime stories brought to the screen, where names such as Colin Ferguson and Ann Woodward continue to resonate far beyond these shores.
The Fisher Trilogy: 'Amy Fisher: My Story' (1992)
First out the gate was NBC’s “Amy Fisher: My Story,” which aired Dec. 28, 1992, and was later known on video as “Lethal Lolita.” Noelle Parker played Fisher, with Ed Marinaro as Buttafuoco and Kathleen Laskey as Mary Jo. ABC’s “The Amy Fisher Story” and CBS’ “Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story” both aired on Jan. 3, 1993. The first starred Drew Barrymore, Anthony John Denison (aka Tony Denison) and Laurie Paton as the ill-fated trio, while the latter gave us Alyssa Milano, Jack Scalia and Phyllis Lyons.
The Fisher Trilogy: 'The Amy Fisher Story' (1993)
Drew Barrymore played Amy Fisher and Anthony John Denison was Joey Buttafuoco in "The Amy Fisher Story" in 1993.
The Fisher Trilogy: 'Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story' (1993)
Alyssa Milano played Amy Fisher in "Casualties of Love: The Long Island Lolita Story" in 1993.
'The Honeymoon Killers' (1970)
Raymond Fernandez and Martha Beck (pictured with their attorney, Herbert E. Rosenberg, center, in 1949), the “lonely hearts killers” who mostly used personal ads to lure 20 women to their deaths from 1947 to 1949, began their serial murders at his apartment at 15 Adeline Place, Valley Stream. Tony Lo Bianco and Shirley Stoler played the couple, who were executed in 1951, in the 1970 cult flick “The Honeymoon Killers,” which originally had a fledgling Martin Scorsese at the helm before being fired. Jared Leto and Salma Hayek took over the roles in the 2006 movie “Lonely Hearts,” which featured John Travolta, James Gandolfini and Scott Caan as police detectives.
'Lonely Hearts' (2006)
John Travolta, foreground, with Scott Caan, second from left, and James Gandolfini, center, in "Lonely Hearts" in 2006.
'The Amityville Horror' (1979)
Walls oozing slime, faucets spewing blood, a demonic pig named Jodie . . . horror or hallucination? All George and Kathy Lutz (James Brolin, Margot Kidder) know is that a year before they bought the Amityville home, Ronald DeFeo Jr. killed his parents and four siblings. The film by director Stuart Rosenberg spawned numerous sequels and a 2005 remake.
'The Two Mrs. Grenvilles' (1987)
The NBC miniseries adapted Dominick Dunne’s novel based on the 1955 case of Oyster Bay socialite Ann Woodward, who fatally shot her millionaire husband, William Woodward Jr., and convinced a grand jury that she believed she was shooting a prowler (who later was found and confessed to attempted burglary). Ann-Margret starred as Ann Arden Grenville, with screen legend Claudette Colbert as mother-in-law Alice Grenville.
'A Deadly Silence' (1989)
In February 1986, Selden teen Cheryl Pierson (Heather Fairfield) paid her Newfield High School classmate Sean Pica (Philip Linton as the renamed Sean Pecar) to kill her father, widowed electrician James Pierson (Charles Haid), who she said had beaten and sexually abused her for years. The ABC film featured David Schwimmer as Cheryl’s accomplice and future husband, Rob Cuccio, with Bruce Weitz as a police detective and Mike Farrell as Cheryl’s attorney.
'The Long Island Incident' (1998)
When a disturbed Colin Ferguson (Tyrone Benskin) opened fire in a Long Island Rail Road car as it pulled into the Merillon Avenue station in Garden City, Dennis McCarthy (Peter MacNeill), the husband of Carolyn McCarthy (Laurie Metcalf), was among six killed, and their son, Kevin (Mackenzie Astin), among 19 wounded. The NBC film, directed by Joseph Sargent (1974’s “The Taking of Pelham One Two Three”), traces the events of that December 1993 day and McCarthy’s subsequent gun-control activism on her way to becoming a Long Island congresswoman.
'Ricky 6' (2000)
Playing only in film festivals from 2000 to 2006, and unreleased on video (though available on YouTube), this dramatization of the 1984 murder of Gary Lauwers in a wooded area of Northport stars Vincent Kartheiser years before his Pete Campbell on “Mad Men.” Kartheiser’s Ricky Cowan stands in for real-life teen Richard Kasso (pictured in 1984), who committed suicide in his Suffolk County jail cell in Riverhead while awaiting trial on what was described as a drug-induced satanic ritual killing.
'Murder in the Hamptons' (2005)
Titled “Million Dollar Murder” for overseas video release, this Lifetime TV-movie chronicled the 2001 bludgeoning death of millionaire businessman Ted Ammon (David Sutcliffe) at his East Hampton mansion, purportedly at the behest of his estranged wife, Generosa (Poppy Montgomery). The following year she married electrician Danny Pelosi (Shawn Christian), who in 2004 was convicted of Ammon’s murder. Generosa died of cancer in 2003.
'The Gilgo Beach Murders' (2013)
The still-unsolved case of a 2010s Long Island serial killer who murdered at least 10 victims — dumping four along Gilgo Beach, with other remains found near Oak Beach, on Tobay Beach and elsewhere — formed the basis for this low-budget drama that opened in New York City, then made its Long Island debut in February 2014 at Island Cinemas in Mastic. It’s known as “The Long Island Serial Killer” on DVD.