One of the greatest actors of all time, Robert Anthony De Niro, born August 17, 1943, in Manhattan, New York City, is an American-Italian Oscar-winning actor, producer and director. He gained fame for his starring role in “Bang the Drum Slowly” (1973)—for which he picked up a New York Film Critics Circle Award for “Best Supporting Actor.” In the same year, he won another significant critical acclaim with his role as a volatile, deeply troubled Jonny Boy in “Mean Street,” his first film with famed and celebrated director Martin Scorsese.
A seasoned thespian, De Niro is respected and highly commended by one and all for his meticulous approach that he employs towards acting and his aim of achieving precision and excellence in any role he undertakes. Some other films that he starred in are “Taxi Driver” (1976), “Once Upon a Time in America” (1984), “Goodfellas” (1990), “Casino” (1995), “The Good Shepherd” (2006), “Silver Linings Playbook” (2012) and “Irishman” (2019). In his career that has spanned over five decades and still waxing strong, he has won numerous awards to his name and has done various genres of movies right from action, adventure, thriller, romantic and comedy.
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Robert De Niro Bio: Age, Parents, Early Life
Robert Anthony De Niro was born to De Niro Sr. (father) and Virginia Admiral (mother) in Greenwich Village, Manhattan, New York, on August 17, 1943. His parents were renowned artists—his father being an abstract expressionist painter and sculptor and his mother too, a cerebral and gifted artist. The couple met while attending Hans Hoffman’s popular Provincetown painting classes. Then known as “golden couple” of the New York art circle, Virginia and De Niro Sr. however separated in 1945 when young De Niro was just 2-year-old. After his parents separated, he was raised by his mother in little Greenwich Village and Little Italy areas of Manhattan; though his father still maintained contact with young De Niro and was also influential in his upbringing. His mother was raised a Presbyterian but turned an atheist as an adult, while his father since he was 12, had been a lapse Catholic.
He attended PS 41, a public elementary school in Manhattan for 6th grade, Elisabeth Irwin High School and Little Red School House for 7th and 8th grade respectively. De Niro first gave acting a shot at age 10 when he appeared for a school play, “The Wizard of Oz”, in which he played the Cowardly Lion. This debut went on to set the course for him in his acting career. De Niro, as a teenager, joined tame Italian street gang that gave him the name, “Bobbymilk,” which is in reference to his small stature and pale complexion. He went on to enroll at McBurney School, a private high school, to complete his high school studies but later switched to a private Rhodes Preparatory School. However, he altogether lost interest in schooling and dropped out from both schools to pursue a career in acting. After dropping out of school, De Niro took acting courses under the tutelage of Lee Strasberg—one of the greatest icons in method acting—Actors Studio and then at famed Stella Adler Conservatory.
Robert De Niro Career Details
After taking up several small movie roles, De Niro got the breakthrough role that lifted his career when he starred in “Bang the Drum Slowly” (1973) which earned him a New York Film Critics’ Award. In the same year, he starred in “Mean Streets,” which was his first movie with celebrated director Martin Scorsese. The following year he established himself as one of Hollywood’s best actor with the portrayal of Vito Corleone in the “The Godfather: Part 2” for which he received an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. In 1976, due to the bond developed with Scorsese through the success of the previous movies, De Niro starred in “Taxi Driver,” as a vindictive cab driver and this portrayal turned as to be the most celebrated of the actor’s career. For his role in the movie, he earned an Oscar for Best Actor. Between 1976 and 1980, he starred in a number of movies which did not fare well at the box office but got good appraisal by the audience and critics alike.
In 1980, De Niro took up the role of Jake LaMotta, a middleweight boxer, in yet another powerful Scorsese-directed movie, “Raging Bull”, in which he won an Oscar nomination for Best Actor the following year. He featured in quite a number of movies in the 1980s, among them are: as an aspiring comedian in Scorsese-directed “The King of Comedy” (1983) and as a Jewish mobster in “Once Upon a Time in America” (1984) amongst others. In 1987, at the 15th Moscow International Film Festival, De Niro was the President of the Jury.
The 1990s began on a good note for De Niro as the talented actor starred in a gangster film directed by Scorsese, “Goodfellas” (1990). He followed this with “Awakenings” (1990) which earned him Oscar Nomination. He also starred in other numerous movies, among them “Fear” which earned him his sixth Oscar Nomination and would become De Niro’s highest-grossing collaboration with famed director Martin Scorsese, raking in $182 million worldwide. In 1994, the talented thespian portrayed an unrecognizable figure as a monster in the adaptation of Mary Shelley’s novel, “Frankenstein.” In 1993, De Niro made his debut as a director in “A Bronx Tale.” As the millennium drew to a close, in 1999, he took up a starring role in comedic movie “Analyze This.” Compared to some of his equally respected contemporaries, De Niro is an extremely prolific actor—he completed 24 films in the 90s alone.
In the 2000s, he appeared in many notable projects among them are: action-comedy movie, “Meet the Parents” (2000), the sequel, “Analyze That” (2002) and voice acting in the animated movie, “Shark Tale” (2004). In 2006, he made his second directorial debut in the spy thriller, “The Good Shepherd.” Fast forward to 2012, he delivered an exceptional performance in the movie, “Silver Linings Playbook,” which won him an Oscar Nomination. He starred in other subsequent movies and in 2016, he made a starring role in another biopic, “Hands of Stone,” in which he portrayed Panamanian boxer trainer. Also, in 2016, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in recognition of his contribution to the arts. In 2017, De Niro starred in the biopic, “The Wizard of Lies,” for which he earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance. In 2019, still waxing strong, he starred in Martin Scorsese directed movie, “Irishman.”
Aside from acting, the great thespian has major business concerns that fetch him huge income. He is the co-founder of highly successful Nobu restaurant chain (with more than 40 locations around the world) along with Nobu Matsuhisa. De Niro is also a co-owner of The Greenwich Hotel located in New York. With the earning from his acting career and huge business empire, his net worth is estimated at $500 million.
Is Robert De Niro Married To Wife?
First married to actress Diahnne Abbott in 1976 with whom he had a child name Raphael in 1978. De Niro adopted Drena, Abbott’s daughter from a previous marriage before they finally divorced after 12 years. In 1996. He had twin boys with former girlfriend, Toukie Smith, through artificial insemination. In 1997, he walked down the aisle with second wife, Grace Hightower who is an actress and former model. In 1998 they had a son, named Elliot via a surrogate and also a daughter in 2012. Though they reunited and split on several occasions, but after 20 years of marriage, it was reported that De Niro and Hightower has separated in November 2018.
In October 2003, De Niro was diagnosed with prostrate cancer and underwent surgery at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in December 2003.