Aside from his career as an acting legend, Robert De Niro is proud to have the role of “Dad” on his lengthy resume. The iconic Irishman star deserves an award for being the most doting father to his seven children, Drena De Niro, Raphael De Niro, Aaron De Niro, Julian De Niro, Elliot De Niro, Helen De Niro and Gia Virginia Chen-De Niro.
In 1976, the Taxi Driver actor experienced parenthood for the first time after he tied the knot with singer Diahnne Abbott, welcoming son Raphael that same year. Robert also became the loving father to Diahnne’s daughter, Drena, from a previous relationship, as he adopted her as his own before the pair split in 1988.
Following his divorce from Diahnne, the Oscar winner went on to find love with Toukie Smith. While the Meet the Parents star and the former model never made it down the aisle, they expanded Robert’s family during their time together. In 1995, the ex-duo welcomed twin boys, Julian and Aaron, via in vitro fertilization and were delivered via surrogacy, but the couple called it quits not long after.
The Godfather star walked down the aisle for a second time in 1997 with actress Grace Hightower. The pair went on to have a little boy named Elliot in 1998, as well another child, daughter Helen, in 2011. However, after 20 years of marriage, Robert and Grace went their separate ways in 2018.
“I love my children, just being with them,” the icon told Us Weekly at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2019. “[But] It’s not easy. When you have the good moments [though], you forget about the ones that weren’t good.”
While Robert certainly isn’t one to hold back when gushing about time with his brood, he also isn’t shy when discussing more difficult topics as a dad. As he chatted about the Black Lives Matter movement during an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, the Academy Award winner spoke candidly about what it’s like being a father raising six biracial kids.
“My children are all half black and I don’t have, even me, I take certain things for granted,” he shared with host Jimmy Fallon in June 2020. “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.”
“That’s scary,” Robert added, noting as a father, he demands “that has to change.”
Robert ensures that he spends time with his children even with his busy schedule. He stepped out in New York City for a rare public appearance with Julian, Elliot and Helen in October 2021. A year prior to the outing, he opened up to People about giving his kids some valuable career advice.
“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. Don’t be afraid,” the acting legend shared. “It’s important for them to find their own lane.”
To learn more about each of Robert’s seven kids, keep scrolling!
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