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Robert De Niro - Biography

The Irishman and Taxi Driver star was born in 1943

Robert De Niro smiling at a red carpet event
Hannah Watkin
Content Writer
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Early life

Robert De Niro was born on August 17, 1943, in New York City, to Robert De Niro Sr and Virginia Admiral, both artists. Having caught the acting bug at school aged ten, Robert appeared as the Cowardly Lion in a local production of The Wizard Of Oz, and then, after dropping out of high school, went on to study with renowned theatre experts.

Early career

De Niro first flourished under the tutelage of Lee Strasberg - one of the greatest forces in method acting - and then was taught at the famed Stella Adler Studio Of Acting. He paid his dues off-Broadway, but soon established himself as a master of disguise, utterly inhabiting his roles in a string of acclaimed films. After several small movie roles, the Manhattan native's career took off with 1973's Bang The Drum Slowly - for which he picked up a New York Film Critics Circle Award - and Mean Streets, his first film with celebrated director Martin Scorsese. 

Career success

De Niro went on to find Academy Award glory in 1975, picking up a Best Actor In A Supporting Role trophy for his role in the sequel to The Godfather. Oscar nominations followed in 1977 for Taxi Driver and again in 1979 for The Deer Hunter. He finally took home the Best Actor gong for 1980's Raging Bull - for which he gained 60lbs - and a decade later found himself nominated yet again for the Robin Williams starring Awakenings and 1992's Cape Fear.

Scorsese - who has worked with the legendary actor in ten films and one short film - says De Niro "doesn't look at you; he considers you". And that may be the secret to his commanding performances and longevity. His staying power has also been boosted by a new-found career as the king of comedy in hits such as Meet The Parents with Ben Stiller and its sequel, Meet The Fockers. 

De Niro has also worked on the other side of the camera, making his directorial debut with the well-received 1993 film A Bronx Tale. More recently, the popular actor has starred in films including Scorsese's The Irishman (which he also produced), 2022's Amsterdam, and 2023's About My Father.

Personal life

Robert De Niro wed the actress Diahnne Abbott in 1976 and two years later the couple had one child together, Raphael. The couple were together for 12 years and Robert later adopted Drena, Diahnne's daughter from a previous marriage, before the pair divorced in 1988. 

In 1995 he and his then girlfriend Toukie Smith had twin boys Julian and Aaron through in vitro fertilization. The pair had been together since the 80s, but split in 1996. 

The following year, De Niro walked down the aisle with former model and flight attendant Grace Hightower. The relationship was not without its difficulties, as the pair split and reunited on several occasions. They share two children together, a boy called Elliott and a girl called Helen Grace. The pair separated in 2018, and De Niro is now seeing Tiffany Chen, with whom he welcomed a seventh child, a daughter Gia, in 2023.

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