Close Ad

Robert De Niro's Children Have Opened His Eyes: How Raising 7 Bi-Racial Children Changed Everything for Him
Robert de Niro Children
Robert De Niro (right) and Toukie Smith (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Robert De Niro's Children Have Opened His Eyes: How Raising 7 Bi-Racial Children Changed Everything for Him

As one of the greatest actors in our generation, Robert De Niro has always commanded a great deal of attention, interest, and collective admiration from the public. De Niro shot to fame when took on the role of a Young Vito Corleone (and subsequently, a young Marlon Brando) in Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather II.

Robert De Niro in the Godfather 2

He’s been acting for well over fifty years and has absolutely changed the course of film history with his striking and thoughtful performances. The TriBeca Film Festival Founder has an uncanny ability to elevate a movie through a five-second appearance or just two lines of dialogue.

Robert De Niro: The Man! The Myth! The Legend! The...Father of Seven?

Given Robert is in his late seventies, the press isn’t flocking to cover him as they used to. Therefore, the public, by and large, don’t have a lot of insight into his personal life, which has been as complicated, surprising, and turbulent as his on-screen roles. 

Many people may also hold certain stereotypes about Robert’s demeanour, attitude, and parenting style purely due to his age. However, if you take a closer look into Robert’s marriages and his seven children, you might understand that the stereotyping and the assumptions don’t do anyone any favours

Like any other parent, Robert is trying to make sense of an ever-changing world and what it means for his children, all of whom are in different stages of their lives and face unique challenges accordingly. By examining Robert’s evolution as a father, we could pick up a lesson or two on how we interact with our parents and children. 

De Niro has 7 children from four different relationships 

As is commonplace among the Hollywood crowd, Robert has tried his luck in love. While his two previous marriages ended in divorce, the De Niro Family expanded in April of 2023 when the actor welcomed his seventh child, baby Gia to the world, alongside partner Tiffany Chen. De Niro met Chen on the set of his film The Intern where Chen played his character's Tai Chi instructor.

Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway
Still from The Intern

His first wife wast actress Diahne Abbott, who he wed in 1976. Diahne co-starred in Robert’s award-winning film Taxi Driver and also took part in a handful of films over the eighties. Throughout their twelve-year marriage, Robert and Diahne had one child, Raphael, born on November 9, 1976. Robert also adopted from Diahne’s daughter Drena from another relationship. 

Taking Over The Family Business

Raphael was a child actor for a few years, appearing in films that featured his father, such as Awakenings and Raging Bull. He attended New York University but did not graduate. In 2003, he received his real estate broker’s license and was so successful in selling houses that he was one of the top ten sellers at his firm Douglas Ellison for multiple years. 

Raphael and Robert are both partners in the Greenwich Hotel, a luxurious five-star hotel in Tribeca. Raphael also grabbed headlines in 2015 when he held the most expensive property listings in New York— a line of townhouses valued at $120 million. Raphael was married to Claudia DeMatos for seven years, and the pair had three children together. 

Robert de niro children drea and raphael de niro 1024x642
Patrick McMullan / Contributor

Drena De Niro, on the other hand, has had a much more notable acting career. She first started as a model before moving on to becoming a fashion consultant and DJ. In the mid-90s, she found a knack for acting, which she followed up with an extensive filmography. Her most recent role was in A Star Is Born. She lives in New York City with her son. 

Robert De Niro and Toukie Smith
Robert De Niro and Toukie Smith (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Robert and Diahne divorced in 1988. In the very same year, Robert commenced a relationship with model Toukie Smith, which lasted for eight years. Though the two never married, they conceived two sons, Julian and Aaron, via in vitro fertilization. Their surrogate delivered the boys in 1995. A year later, Robert and Toukie split up. 

Robert De Niro and Son
Robert De Niro on a Central Park playground with son Elliot (with Grace Hightower) (photo by Lawrence Schwartzwald)

Robert’s second and more recent marriage was to actress and philanthropist Grace Hightower. The two had an up-and-down marriage but did manage to make their marriage work for twenty years. Their son Elliot was born in 1998. A year later, Robert and Grace announced that they were getting divorced. However, they managed to patch things up, and they renewed their vows in 2004. Their second child, Helen Grace, was born in December 2011 via surrogate. 

Little is known about Elliot De Niro and Aaron De Niro as they’ve stayed out of the public eye and don’t maintain public social media accounts. Though De Niro has spoken out about his son Elliot being on the autism spectrum.

There are great moments and moments of sadness. Sometimes you’re the last person [the children] want to deal with. It’s like when you walk your kids to school, and they get older and they don’t want to hold your hand or kiss you goodbye.

Robert De Niro to People

It's not all sad though! Unlike his twin brother, Julian De Niro is following in his father's footsteps! Julian stepped into the spotlight when he starred alongside James Franco, in Franco's film In Dubious Battle (2016), and continues to pursue an acting career.

He said it’s a “scary” time to have biracial children

Robert deniro 31
Page Six

Since all of Robert De Niro's children are biracial, De Niro has been learning first-hand what it’s like to live under the heated circumstances of the contemporary United States. At the peak of the Black Lives Matter protests in June 2020, Robert went on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and spoke about his experience of raising biracial children. 

Robert has been raising biracial children for nearly fifty years, so he’s seen how civil rights movements have changed, evolved, and grown over time. Yet, he can also attest to how certain things have not changed and continue to be an issue in the country even today. 

My children are all half black, and I don’t have, even me, I take certain things for granted. When people say that, they tell their kids, ‘Keep your hands [out] when you’re stopped by any 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.

Robert De Niro on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon

Robert De Niro on The Tonight Show

Robert is all too familiar with the anxiety and the ever-present sense of cautiousness that comes with needing to protect your children. Especially if you feel like your children are under threat for reasons not within their control. He said that “it’s scary” and that “it has to change.” He has advocated for change within the current policing system and has said that cops that don’t seek to protect the community and are instead targeting minorities don’t “need to be there.” 

Robert De Niro admitted fatherhood is “not easy” for him

Robert and Grace’s divorce was initially perceived as amicably, but recent events have detailed that it’s indeed a complicated and expensive divorce case, worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic. Robert and Grace are fighting over alimony as Robert’s financial situation has deteriorated in the past year due to government lockdowns, particularly concerning his two business ventures, Nobu and The Greenwich Hotel. 

But ugly divorce proceedings haven’t stop Robert from caring about his children. He holds them in his heart and tries to meet them as frequently as he can. He’s admitted that not every day is going to be cheerful or bright. There are rough and challenging days, to which any family will be able to attest. The key is to take those dark times in stride and move on. 

I love my children, just being with them. [But] It’s not easy. When you have the good moments [though], you forget about the ones that weren’t good.

Robert De Niro to US Weekly

The fact that Robert can openly acknowledge that he is not the perfect father already gives him a better shot at rectifying the situation than most other fathers out there. Being able to recognize the problem is the first step to resolving it. And even in his seventies, he’s keen on being the most attentive, gentle, and understand father possible. 

Robert has also given his two cents on what he thinks about his children pursuing acting as a profession. He doesn’t have a definite opinion about it, but like any other healthy parent, he wants his children to find fulfillment in whatever vocation they take up. He’s eager for his kids to find their “own lane,” to get out from his shadow and make their own discoveries in this crazy world. 

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. 

Robert De Niro to PEOPLE

As long as you’re trying, you’re succeeding

Robert is very upfront about his qualities as a father and how he’s continually trying to improve and reckon with the modern expectations of fatherhood. He’s had biracial children for a long time and has always had to be careful about what that means in the modern world. He will fight for his children, but he will also admit to fighting with his children. 

He shows us that as long as we’re trying to be a better person or a better parent, we’re doing a reasonably good job. It’s when you stop trying that you have to wonder if you’re really a good parent at all. Having this little bit of self-awareness is half of the hard work, and the rest will just take care of its own. If you want a fun resource for entertaining your children, check out our article on Winnie the Pooh quotes.

More inspiring famous fathers:

Hot Stories

Pamela Anderson Opens Up About Her 9 Disastrous Weddings
Why Pamela Anderson Can't Stop Getting Married

Pamela Anderson has it all: beauty, fame and success. So why can’t the most famous blonde find her fairytale ending? Why is Pamela so unlucky in love and what dark secrets lie behind her seemingly glamorous life?

Keep ReadingShow less
Life Stories
Woman wearing a black dress sitting on a couch and identical twins pose for a picture.

Twins Who Were Separated at Birth Find Each Other On TikTok and Photo by VANO SHLAMOV/AFP via Getty Images

There are eight billion people on the planet. And chances are that somewhere out there, another person is walking around with your face, or at least one that is eerily similar to yours.

Doppelgängers do exist.

Keep ReadingShow less
Uplifting News
Dad standing with two young women holding a sign "A daughters first love" and a smiling man wearing a white shirt and black tie.

Hero Dad Dies Protecting His Family at Trump Rally Shooting

Helen Comperatore/Facebook and Buffalo Township Volunteer Fire Company via AP

On July 13, as former U.S. President Donald Trump was giving a rousing speech at a campaign rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, a gunman took aim and pulled the trigger, firing multiple shots.

In the midst of the chaos and carnage, a father desperately shielded his daughter and his wife. It would be his final act of love.

Keep ReadingShow less
Uplifting News