Spotlight on Robert De Niro’s Family: Meet His Wife and 7 Children

Robert De Niro has been married twice, first to Diahnne Abbott (1976 – 1988) and then to Grace Hightower (1997 – 2018). His two marriages have produced six children – Drena De Niro, Raphael De Niro, Helen Grace De Niro, Julian Henry De Niro, Elliot De Niro, and Aaron Kendrick De Niro.

In 2023, at around 80 years old, the legendary American actor welcomed his seventh child, a daughter named Gia, with his girlfriend Tiffany Chen.

Robert De Niro Was Married To His Second Wife, Grace Hightower For Two Decades

When it comes to women, Robert De Niro likes them black, all three women he has been romantically involved with are African-American. About a decade after his first marriage failed, Robert De Niro decided to give a traditional family life a second try with his marriage to Grace Hightower in 1997. He had known his second wife Grace for about a decade before they decided to get romantically involved with each other.

They reportedly met in 1987 when Grace was working at a restaurant as a waitress. The meeting place was the celebrity hotspot, Mr.Chow, an upscale London Chinese restaurant. Despite the 12-year age gap, the pair began dating and subsequently got married in 1997, their wedding was held at Niro’s home in Marbletown.

Grace who was Rwandan roots best describes herself as a socialite and philanthropist. An occasional actress, she has a handful of acting gigs, she’s had minor roles in Precious (2009) and The Paperboy (2012). Also blessed with amazing vocals, she contributed to the soundtrack used for the latter.

Robert De Niro
Robert De Niro and Grace Hightower: Image Source

Hightower has leveraged her husband’s wealth and influence by launching into philanthropy. In 2013, Hightower who grew up in poverty and as a young woman had to work a series of odd jobs to support her family, launched Grace Hightower & Coffees of Rwanda, an organization with the mission of improving the livelihoods of Rwandans by providing the opportunity for international marketing.

Their Divorce Proceedings Have Been Quite Messy

Hightower and Robert De Niro had the first threat to their marriage in 1999 when they were separated. The actor was the one who filed for divorce, requesting the sole custody of their child. Luckily, they worked things out and never got to sign the divorce papers. About five years later, in 2004, they renewed their marriage vows and remained together as a family living in their $20 million 6,000-square-foot, five-bedroom apartment at 15 Central Park West.

In 2018, it was reported again that the two had separated and had begun divorce proceedings, the actor confirmed the news to Today. De Niro who filed for the divorce described the split as a difficult one.

The process of finalizing their divorce came with accusations and counter-accusations from both sides as they argued about how much Robert should pay her until the terms of the prenup kick-in. Hightower’s camp has accused the actor of flouting on his spousal support making decreased payments by the month. He reportedly reduced her credit card expenses from $375,000 to $100,000.

On the other hand, Robert’s camp criticized Hightower’s insane spending habits which include her insatiable love for Stella McCartney. She also reportedly bought a diamond ring for $1.2 million with the actor’s money.

Sources told Ebony that varying political views, as well as Hightower’s controlling nature and wanting to micromanage the actor and his businesses and not letting him be himself, was the reason for their split.

De Niro Has Two Children With Separated Wife, Hightower

  • Full Name: Elliot De Niro

  • Born: 1998
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Elliot De Niro is Robert De Niro’s youngest son, he was born a year after their parents got married. The actor would reveal later that his son has autism leading to suspicions that difficulties that often come with raising a special needs child were what put a strain on their marriage and culminated in their 1999 split that ended in their vow renewal in 2004.

The actor revealed that he was initially adamant about letting his son get involved with activities where he could enjoy himself, but when they finally did, they were grateful for it. Elliot was introduced to tennis and has come to not just love the sport but is also very good at it.

In their interview with ESPN, Elliot’s parents revealed that he was not initially crazy about the sports but thanks to his mom’s constant encouragement he came to love it. Thanks to tennis, Elliott became more social and confident in himself. Elliot has been featured in a video series for the Special Olympics.

At the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival which was founded by De Niro, the anti-vaccine documentary titled Vaxxed was screened. The actor and his wife at the time said that they believed that it was “critical that issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined.” His remark was deemed controversial as it suggested that there could be a possible link between vaccines and autism.

Full Name: Helen Grace De Niro

Born: December 2011

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Helen is Robert De Niro’s youngest child and daughter. She is the product of their parent’s rekindled romance; however, she was had via surrogacy which could be as a result of Grace’s age (55) at the time Helen was born.

Being the youngest, not much is known publicly about Helen; she has been spotted on a few occasions out and about with her famous daddy. The actor told Us Weekly in 2019 that he enjoys spending time with his children, he, however, admitted to the tough times that also come with being a father. “It’s not easy,” the actor told the outlet. “Sometimes it’s fun and you love your kids, and sometimes you want to kill them!” Every parent can definitely relate to that.

Robert De Niro’s First Wife Was Diahnne Abbott

The 1976 film Taxi Driver did not only bring De Niro one of his most iconic roles but brought his paths to cross with the woman that would become his first wife. An actress as well, Abbott played a small role as “concession girl” in the movie. It was probably love at first sight for the duo as they got married that same year. They enjoyed 12 years together before their marriage ended in divorce in 1988.

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Diahnne Abbott who was born on January 1, 1945, in New York City never quite saw her career take off like De Niro’s, as she only appeared in supporting roles throughout the 70s and 80s. Her vocal prowess was seen in the 1977 film New York, New York where she sang “Honeysuckle Rose” by Fats Waller. Music does run in the Abbott blood, she is the cousin to Gregory Abbott who is popular for his 1986 hit song “Shake You Down” from his debut album.

Abbott and De Niro once again shared the screen together in Martin Scorsese’s 1983 film, The King of Comedy. Some of her other films include Before Night Falls, Soliloquy, and 2013’s James Abbott Is Gone which seems to be her latest credit as of this writing. Abbott seemed to have chosen to keep a low profile following her divorce from De Niro as not much has been said about her in the media since then. She is occasionally featured on her daughter, Drena’s Instagram page.

The Couple Had A Son

  • Full Name: Raphael De Niro
  • Age: 47
  • Known For: Real Estate Broker, Former Actor
  • Spouse: Hannah Carnes (2020); Claudine DeMatos (2008 – 2020)
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Raphael De Niro is Robert’s first biological child. He was named Raphael after the hotel room where he was conceived. He had originally aspired to be an actor like his father Robert. Born in Los Angeles, California, he was raised in New York.

Despite his father’s wealth, Raphael worked a number of summer jobs as a young boy including at a Perusian rug store as a doorman, a busboy at his dad’s restaurant in Nobu, and on set with his father as a production assistant. Perhaps the time spent on set with his father ignited his passion for acting. He appeared in a couple of films alongside his father, including Love Streams (1984), Raging Bull (1980), and Awakenings (1990). Raphael briefly attended New York University.

Raphael made a drastic career switch and is now renowned for being a real estate broker. A move that his father must have been proud of. Robert once told People Magazine that he was fine with whatever career any of his children chose to pursue as long as it made them happy.

Raphael got his broker’s license in 2003 and within 6 years reportedly sold $600 million worth of properties. He works for the real estate company, Douglas Elliman and in 2017 he was ranked first in The Real Deal’s Manhattan residential agent.

He once held New York’s most expensive listing in 2015 a trio of townhouses on East 42nd Street listed at $120 million. Raphael De Niro has worked with popular celebrities including Travis Kalanick, Jon Bon Jovi, Kelly Ripa, and Renée Zellweger.

Though no longer an actor, Raphael is a board member of his father’s Tribeca Film Institute. He produced the 2007 documentary West 4th and 2013’s James Abbott is Gone. Like his father, Raphael has been married twice.

His first marriage was to Claudine DeMatos in March 2008, after finalizing his divorce from her in 2020, he married fashion stylist Hannah Carnes. Raphael shares three children with his former wife Claudine.

The Actor’s Oldest Child, Daughter, Drena Is Adopted

Full Name: Drena De Niro

Age: 52

Occupation: Actress

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When Robert De Niro married Diahnne Abbott, he adopted her daughter from a previous relationship, she took of Robert’s last name to become Drena De Niro. She would go on to follow in the footsteps of her famous parents. Her start to show business began in the modeling industry after she was done with high school.

She would later become a fashion consultant and DJ. As a DJ she got to work with Giorgio Armani as a musical supervisor contributing ideas to musical backdrops used at runway shows.

In 1996, in her mid-20s, she transitioned to acting, making her debut in Grace of My Heart. She has featured in some movies with her famous dad including Showtime, Wag the Dog, City by the Sea, and The Intern. She had a role in the 2018 hit film, A Star Is Born that featured Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.

Drena De Niro has also dabbled in directing and writing. She made her directorial debut in 2001’s Girls and Dolls which won her the Best Directorial Debut Award at the New York Independent Film/Video Festival.

Drena is not married but has a son named Leo with whom she lives in New York. She is the spokesperson for the Kageno Orphan Sponsorship Program whose aim is to care for orphans in villages in Kageno, Rwanda.

De Niro Has Twin Sons From His Relationship with Toukie Smith

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Bringing Robert De Niro’s children to 6 are his twin sons from his relationship with model Toukie Smith. He began a relationship with her in 1988 after his split from his first wife Diahnne Abbott. The couple broke up in 1996.

Smith who was born on the 25th of September 1952 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is also an actress. She is best recognized for her role as Eva Rawley on the NBC sitcom 227 that ran from 1989 to 1990. She also appeared in Miami Vice, and the 1996 comedy-drama The Preacher’s Wife alongside Denzel Washington.

As a model, she worked with a number of brands including Chanel, Versace, and Geoffrey Beene. De Niro’s former partner has been away from the spotlight since the late 90s, she is believed to now be resident in Battery Park City in New York City.

Toukie is the sister to the now late fashion designer Willi Smith who was one of the most renowned African-American fashion designers of his time with his eponymous fashion company making over $25 million in sales. Toukie had also modeled for her brother’s brand.

Full Names: Julian Henry De Niro and Aaron Kendrick De Niro

  • Born: October, 1995
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Robert De Niro and Toukie Smith’s twin sons were conceived via in vitro fertilization and birthed by a surrogate mother in 1995. When the boys were kids, they frequently accompanied their famous father to red carpet events, however, as they grew into adults, they have stayed away from the media light. The twin boys are non-identical with Aaron looking the most like his father De Niro having his distinctive jawline.

Interesting Key takeaways

Is Robert De Niro Italian or Irish?

Robert De Niro is from a mixed background of Irish and Italian descent from his father with Dutch, English, French, and German ancestry from his mother’s side.

Who Is Robert De Niro Married To?

De Niro has been in two failed marriages with Diahnne Abbott (m. 1976–1988) and Grace Hightower (m. 1997–2018). The marriages ended in divorce. Robert De Niro is not married at the moment.

Is Robert De Niro Divorced?

Yes, Robert De Niro divorced his second wife after 20 years. He got married to Grace Hightower in 1997 and they split in 1999 but reunited in 2004 after renewing their vows. However, they finally divorced for good in 2018. The actor has not remarried since then.

Does Robert De Niro Speak Italian?

De Niro has Italian roots which he is proud of and speaks the Sicilian dialect pretty well as seen in The Godfather II. He has been in a lot of Italian movies, including Manuale d’amore 3, and has portrayed many Italian characters as well.

How Many Children Does Robert De Niro Have?

Robert Deniro has a large blended family with six children namely Drena De Niro, Raphael De Niro, Helen Grace De Niro, Julian Henry De Niro, Elliot De Niro, Aaron Kendrick De Niro.

Where Does Robert De Niro’s Family Live?

Robert de Niro has been a resident of New York City for a long time and has properties scattered all over the east and west sides of Manhattan but his primary residence is a 32-hectare (78-acre) estate in Gardiner, New York.

How Long Has Robert De Niro Been Married?

Robert De Niro is not married at the moment but has been in two failed marriages with the last one ending in 2018.

How Old Is Robert De Niro’s Wife?

Robert has no wife currently but he was last married to Grace Hightower who is 69 years old. She was born on April 7, 1955.

Uwa Echebiri
Uwa Echebiri
Uwa has extensive professional writing experience including report and technical writing, product reviews, informational and persuasive articles, creative and content writing on nearly any topic. As a lifelong movie buff, Uwa is either bingeing on new movies during leisure, or giving someone a whopping on the latest FIFA edition


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