Born in: New York
Career: Actor, Director, Producer
Robert De Niro is an Academy Award-winning and Golden Globe-winning American film actor. Apart from being a popular performer, he has also been involved in direction and production. Mainly known for his role in ‘The Godfather Part - II’, De Niro has received critical as well as commercial success for years. His other notable roles have been those in ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘Raging Bull’, ‘Goodfellas’, ‘The Untouchables’ and ‘The Deer Hunter’. He is truly regarded as one of the most enigmatic actors of his time.
Robert De Niro was born as ‘Robert Mario De Niro Jr.’ on 17th August 1943, in New York. He is the son of late Robert De Niro Sr., an abstract expressionist painter and sculptor, and Virginia Admiral, a painter. While his father was a lapsed Catholic of Italian and Irish descent, his mother was a Presbyterian-raised atheist of English, German, Dutch and French descent. His parents had a love marriage, which came to an end with divorce, when he was hardly two years old. De Niro grew up in the Little Italy area of Manhattan.
De Niro first attended the Little Red School House. However, later, his mother got him enrolled at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art in New York. He dropped out of school when he was only 13 years old and joined a Little Italy street gang. De Niro also went to Stella Adler Conservatory and even attended Lee Strasberg's Actor's Studio. He was smart enough to use both the memberships for gaining a professional advantage. In the year 1959, when he was only 16 years old, De Niro toured in a production of Chekhov's The Bear.
Entry in Films
De Niro bagged his first film role in the year 1963, in ‘The Wedding Party’. However, the film got stalled and was released only in 1969. By that time, he had appeared as an extra in ‘Three Rooms in Manhattan’, in 1965. The decade of 1960s was spent by him working mainly in theater workshops and off-Broadway productions. De Niro made his official film debut with ‘Greetings’ (1968). Recognition came his way in 1973, when he starred in ‘Bang the Drum Slowly’, as a dying Major League baseball player. The same year, he started his collaboration with Scorsese, after appearing in ‘Mean Streets’.
Recognition and Success
It was in 1974 that De Niro came to be known across the world. The role that won him the wide-scale recognition was Francis Coppola's ‘The Godfather Part II’. The movie also got him his first Academy Award, for ‘Best Supporting Actor’. The rest of the decade saw him doing movies like ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘1900’, ‘The Last Tycoon’, ‘The Deer Hunter’ & ‘The Swap’. Many of these films won him awards' nominations. He opened the decade of 1980s with ‘Raging Bull’ (1980). The movie got him Academy Award as well as Golden Globe Award, for ‘Best Actor’.
Later Film Career
De Niro’s next major film was ‘True Confessions’ (1981), followed by ‘Once Upon a Time in America’ (1984), ‘The King of Comedy’ (1983), ‘The Untouchables’ (1987) and ‘Midnight Run’ (1989). The King of Comedy and Midnight Run got him nominations for BAFTA Award and Golden Globe Award, respectively. The 1990s saw De Niro making his debut as a director, with ‘A Bronx Tale’ (1993). He also acted in a number of movies in 1990s.
Amongst them, the more notable ones were ‘Awakenings’ (1990), ‘Goodfellas’ (1990), ‘Cape Fear’ (1991), ‘Frankenstein’ (1994), ‘Casino’ (1995), ‘Great Expectations’ (1998) and ‘Analyze This’ (1999). De Niro started the 21st century with ‘The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle’, ‘Men of Honor’ and ‘Meet the Parents’. He was also seen in ‘Analyze That’ (2002) and ‘Meet The Fockers’ (2004). His second directorial venture was ‘The Good Shepherd’ (2006), while his latest movie is ‘What Just Happened?’ (2008).
De Niro’s first wife was Diahnne Abbott, with whom he has a son, Raphael. He also adopted Abbott's daughter, from a previous relationship, Drena. Thereafter, he was involved in a live-in relationship with former model Toukie Smith and has twin sons, Julian Henry and Aaron Kendrick, from her. De Niro married Grace Hightower, a former flight attendant, in 1997. The couple had a son ‘Elliot’ in 1998 and soon after his birth, filed for divorce. Though the divorce was never officially finalized, they live separately.
De Niro has been investing in the TriBeCa neighborhood, in lower Manhattan, since 1989. He co-founded the film studio TriBeCa Productions, TriBeCa Film Festival; and Nobu (the now-defunct Layla restaurants). Apart from that, he co-owns TriBeCa Grill, with Paul Wallace and Broadway producer Stewart F. Lane. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2003, for which full recovery was projected. De Niro's lost his father, painter Robert De Niro Sr., to cancer in 1993. He is a staunch supporter of the Democratic Party and was conferred Italian citizenship in 2006.
1974 - Academy Award for ‘Best Supporting Actor’, for 'The Godfather Part II'
1980 - Academy Award for ‘Best Actor’, for ‘Raging Bull’
1981 - Golden Globe Award for ‘Best Actor’, for ‘Raging Bull’
2003 - AFI Life Achievement Award
1965 - Three Rooms in Manhattan (uncredited)
1968 - Greetings
1969 - Sam's Song, The Wedding Party
1970 - Bloody Mama, Hi, Mom!
1971 - Jennifer on My Mind, Born to Win, The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight
1973 - Bang the Drum Slowly, Mean Streets John
1974 - The Godfather: Part II
1976 - Taxi Driver, 1900, The Last Tycoon
1977 - New York, New York
1978 - The Deer Hunter
1979 - The Swap
1980 - Raging Bull
1981 - True Confessions
1983 - The King of Comedy
1984 - Once Upon a Time in America, Falling in Love
1985 - Brazil
1986 - The Mission
1987 - Angel Heart, The Untouchables
1988 - Midnight Run
1989 - Jacknife, We're No Angels
1990 - Stanley and Iris, Goodfellas, Awakenings
1991 - Guilty by Suspicion, Backdraft, Cape Fear
1992 - Mistress, Night and the City
1993 - A Bronx Tale (also director), Mad Dog and Glory, This Boy's Life
1994 - Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
1995 - Casino, Heat, A Hundred and One Nights
1996 - The Fan, Sleepers, Marvin's Room
1997 - Cop Land, Jackie Brown, Wag the Dog
1998 - Great Expectations, Ronin
1999 - Analyze This, Flawless
2000 - The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle, Men of Honor, Meet the Parents
2001 - 15 Minutes, The Score
2002 - Showtime, City by the Sea, Analyze That
2004 - Godsend, Shark Tale (voice), Meet the Fockers, The Bridge of San Luis Rey
2005 - Hide and Seek
2006 - Arthur and the Invisibles (voice), The Good Shepherd (also director)
2007 - Stardust
2008 - What Just Happened?