With a movie career spanning over four decades, Robert De Niro is an Oscar-winning actor who has made a name for himself around the world.
Well known for starring in movies such as Taxi Driver, The Intern, and The Godfather: Part II, the 78-year-old is also a dedicated family man who has worked hard to keep his children out of the spotlight.
The Award-winning actor is a doting father to his six children, Drena De Niro, Raphael De Niro, Aaron De Niro, Julian De Niro, Elliot De Niro, and Helen De Niro.
“I love my children, just being with them,” the 78-year-old actor told Us Weekly in 2019. “[But] It’s not easy. When you have the good moments [though], you forget about the ones that weren’t good.”
Robert De Niro has worked with many acclaimed film directors, including Elia Kazan, Brian De Palma, and notably Martin Scorsese, with whom he collaborated on nine projects.
Away from the screen, he is married to his second wife Grace Hightower. The pair first met at a London nightclub in 1987, but didn’t get married until ten years after.
His first marriage was to actress and singer Diahnne Abbott, his former co-star on the critically acclaimed movie Taxi Driver. The couple wed in 1976 and they have two children together, son Raphael, a former actor who now works in New York real estate.
De Niro also adopted Abbott’s daughter Drena De Niro from a previous relationship who is now a successful actress and filmmaker.
Abbott and De Niro divorced in 1988 after 12 years of marriage.
After that, he was in a relationship with model Toukie Smith between 1988 and 1996. Together the couple had twin sons, Julian and Aaron, conceived by in vitro fertilization and delivered by a surrogate mother in 1995.
In 1988 she revealed that she had been pregnant with De Niro’s baby but miscarried. It happened shortly after she lost her brother and her mother and she plunged into a state of grief that required professional help.
Following his split with Smith, he met his second wife and partner of over two decades, actress and singer Hightower.
Their son, Elliot, was born in 1998 and the couple split in 1999 but their divorce was never finalized and in 2004 the couple renewed their vows. Seven years later their daughter was born via surrogate. In 2018 the couple divorced.
Despite splitting with his baby’s mothers De Niro has a close relationship with his children but has admitted that he is scared for them.
The director opened up about fatherhood and being a grandfather of four in January 2020, saying having kids changed his perspective on the world.
“When you become a parent, there are certain things that you become more aware of, more sensitive about,” he said.
It’s rare that De Niro talks about his children but in an interview with Jimmy Fallon in 2020 he was asked about any discussions he had with his children amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.
“My children are all half black and I don’t have … even me, I take certain things for granted,” the Oscar winner said.
“When people say that they tell their kids, ‘Keep your hands when you’re stopped by anybody or cops, keep your hands on the steering wheel, don’t make a sudden move, don’t put your hands below, don’t do this,’ you understand that,” said De Niro.
“That’s scary. That has to change … A lot of people have been saying the cops have to help in the community and have a sensitivity, and there are good cops of course who have that already. But there are some who don’t, and they shouldn’t be there.”
In an interview with People magazine De Niro said he has always encouraged his children to take whatever route makes them happy and to push themselves that little bit more.
“For my kids, I tell them, ‘If you want to be an actor or you want to do this or that, that’s fine as long as you’re happy. Just don’t sell yourself short.’ That’s the most I would say — push yourself a little more and reach for what you really think it is you want to do. Don’t be afraid,” says De Niro. “It’s important for them to find their own lane.”
It’s impressive just how much De Niro has kept his children out of the spotlight, letting them find their own way into it if they choose.
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