Robert De Niro is a name that most people know. Whether it is as a director, producer or actor in such films as The Godfather II, Mean Streets, Raging Bull or Cape Fear, to just name a few.
Born, August 17, 1943, in Greenwich Village, New York City, the son of Virginia Holton Admiral, a painter and poet, and Robert De Niro, Sr., a gay abstract expressionist painter and sculptor.
Growing up in New York’s Little Italy – a few blocks away from Martin Scorsese – De Niro was nicknamed ‘Bobby Milk’ for his pale skin. He and Marty saw each other several times in the neighborhood, but never spoke until being introduced at a party in 1972. One year later, Mean Streets began their eight-movie (so far) director/star collaboration.
De Niro’s capital ventures have included: cofounding the film studio TriBeCa Productions, the Tribeca Film Festival, Nobu and TriBeCa Grill.
De Niro and his first wife Diahnne Abbott have a son, Raphael, a former actor who works in New York real estate. De Niro also adopted Abbott's daughter from a previous relationship, Drena.
De Niro has twin sons, Julian Henry and Aaron Kendrik, conceived by in vitro fertilization and delivered by a surrogate mother in 1995, from a long-term live-in relationship with former model Toukie Smith.
In 1997, De Niro married his second wife, actress Grace Hightower, at their Marbletown home. Their son Elliot was born in 1998 and the couple split in 1999. The divorce was never finalized and in 2004 they renewed their vows. In December 2011, Hightower and De Niro welcomed a daughter, Helen Grace, born via surrogate.
In addition to his six children De Niro has three grandchildren – one from his eldest daughter Drena and two from his son Raphael.
De Niro gets his perfectionism from his father. Robert De Niro Sr was an acclaimed Expressionist painter who studied his subjects in depth and repainted canvases hundreds of times. A 2004 biography claimed Robert Sr – who split from his wife when Robert Jr was two – was actually gay and had affairs with Tennessee Williams and Jackson Pollock.