We all know Robert de Niro as the award-winning actor and Hollywood legend. Whether he’s the main character, sidekick, good guy, or villain, you can’t help but be in awe of him in any role. Despite decades as an acting star, not very many people know much about his private life. De Niro’s personal life has not been quite as awe-inspiring as his professional life has been.
Robert de Niro’s Personal Life: The Ups and Downs
In his younger years, Robert de Niro was a successful and good-looking actor. He enjoyed an active social life filled with substance-fueled parties. Like many young men, he also loved attractive women. Not one to want to settle down at that point in his life, he was careful not to lock himself into a relationship. (1)
Author Shawn Levy reveals much about his wild years in the 1980s in his book De Niro: A Life. The book reveals how, before he was a successful actor, he was a highly successful womanizer. Women he met in acting classes, bars, you name it.
“He picked these incredibly strong girls, top chicks,’ film producer Jonathan Taplin remembered. “He’d fight with them all the time. They would always be in tears the next morning and he would buy them some perfume.”
He was apparently quick to anger when he didn’t get what he wanted. He could also be quite jealous and possessive. But de Niro was also very charming, in his own way. His former lover Helen Springs, for example, he convinced to have lunch with him by following her in his car.
“I’d go fast, he’d go fast. I’d slow down, he’d slow down. This asshole kept following me. I didn’t even know him. Finally he put his hands in a prayer position and said, ‘Pull over’. So I stopped and he said, ‘Can we have lunch?’” Springs said.
Springs and De Niro had a two-year non-exclusive relationship. During this time, Springs became pregnant twice. She aborted the first pregnancy without telling de Niro. The second time, however, she decided she wanted to keep the baby. Robert de Niro, however, who she told was the father, was against it. He allegedly tried to intimidate her into getting an abortion, but she refused. (2)
When the baby, named Nina, was born, he gave Springs $50,000 for her care and helped set up her room. He also reportedly saw the child somewhere between four and six times but drew the line there. De Niro refused to be any larger part of her life.
In 1992, about a decade later, Springs hit de Niro with lawyers, demanding that he pay child support. The actor submitted a blood test which then revealed that he was not the biological father. Springs then tried saying that he had told Nina, who shares his last name, that he was the father and therefore owes something. Her case, however, was not successful.
Read: Denzel Washington Chose ‘Very Tough’ Marriage despite the Temptations That Were around Him
Relationships, Marriages, and Children
Despite his apparent initial aversion to becoming a father, Robert de Niro went on to be a father of six children, including one adopted daughter. His first marriage was to Diahnne Abbott in 1976. He became a step-father to Abbot
His daughter Drena, who eventually took on his last name. Drena followed in her parent’s footsteps and went into acting and modeling. (3)
Together the couple also welcomed a son Raphael de Niro. Though Raphael initially put his hand in the acting ring, he eventually decided it wasn’t for him. Instead, he started his own real estate business. He has helped find houses for some pretty high-profile A-listers, including Jon Bon Jovi and Kelly Rippa. (4)
Next Serious Relationship
After his divorce from Abbott, he dated model Toukie Smith. Though never married, the couple had twin sons together via in vitro fertilization and a surrogate. The sons’ names are Julian and Aaron, however, they lead pretty quiet lives.
Robert de Niro married his second wife Grace Hightower in 1997. Together they had two children, a son Elliot and a daughter Helen. The couple actually separated in 1999, but they never officially divorced. They then renewed their vows in 2004 and stayed together until 2018. Due to legal issues and financial matters, they are still not officially divorced. The actor has been spotted out with other actresses and models since.
Despite his difficulties in relationships, the actor loves his children. He is known for being quite a loving father. Though very private about his personal life, every once in a while he talks about his kids.
“I love my children, just being with them,” he said once in an interview. “It’s not easy. Sometimes it’s fun and you love your kids, and sometimes you want to kill them!” Like any parent, it’s clear that Robert De Niro’s relationships with his six children have been totally unique, but also familiar for his longtime fans who might be parents, too. (5)
Keep Reading: Sandra Bullock Says She Is ‘In Awe’ Of Keanu Reeves — Reveals His Thoughtful Gift To Her 27 Years Ago
- “Robert De Niro threatened his on-off lover in bid to force her to abort his secret ‘daughter’ during his cocaine-fuelled 1980s wild years – and his ‘method acting’ inspired John Belushi to inject the drugs which killed him .” Daily Mail. Caroline Howe. October 29, 2014.
- “Judge Rules Against Woman in Paternity Lawsuit Against De Niro.” AP News. April 5, 1993.
- “Robert De Niro Has Been Married Two Times Over the Course of His Career.” Distractify. Joseph Allen. July 10, 2020.
- “Robert De Niro Seen Vacationing and Holding Hands with Martial Arts Instructor amid Divorce.” People. Ale Russian. August 20, 2021.
- “Robert De Niro’s Kids: Meet The 6 Faces Who Call The Oscar Winner ‘Dad’.” Hollywood Life. Julia Teti. May 26, 2021.