ROBERT DE NIRO Biography - Other artists & entretainers


Biography » other artists entretainers » robert de niro


Robert De Niro, Jr., was born to a family of artists. His mother, Virginia Admiral, was a painter, and father Robert was a painter, sculptor, and poet. De Niro’s childhood was unique in its freedom, perhaps less so in its loneliness. He was known around his Little Italy neighborhood in New York as “Bobby Milk” because of his scrawniness and wimp-like traits. He was a shy child who preferred paperbacks to playmates. He was able to overcome his timidity at age ten for his first stage role as the cowardly lion in The Wizard of Oz. De Niro spent most of his early teen years on the streets, where he whiled away his time with a small-time gang. Acting called him back, and his first paycheck came at sixteen with a touring performance in Chekhov’s The Bear. From there, De Niro embarked on a fifteen-year tour through dinner theatres and off-Broadway stages. Like most successful actors of the era, he studied with Stella Adler and Lee Strasberg, the chief proponents of Method acting.


De Niro’s first screen effort, The Wedding Party, is notable only because of his participation and that of director Brian De Palma. Shot in 1963, it was not released until 1969, and it went unnoticed. His next two films were also with De Palma: Greetings and Hi, Mom! were satires looking at sex, the draft, and the counterculture. But it wasn’t until 1973 that De Niro really began turning heads in Hollywood. His portrayal of dying baseball player Bruce Pearson in Bang the Drum Slowly won him the New York Film Critcs award for Best Actor. The same year, De Niro appeared in Martin Scorsese’s Mean Streets, beginning a longtime collaboration that has spawned a total of eight films, including Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, and GoodFellas. In 1974, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Godfather, Part II turned De Niro into a superstar. His role as the young Vito Corleone won him the Best Supporting Actor Oscar–his portrayal of the young Godfather cemented his reputation as the next Marlon Brando. He demonstrated his dedication to his craft by gaining sixty pounds to play aging boxer Jake La Motta in Raging Bull, for which he won the Best Actor Oscar.


De Niro has fiercely protected his private life. At the beginning of his career, he gave interviews–then he abruptly decided that his personal life had absolutely nothing to do with his film career. He married sometime actress Diahnne Abbott in 1976 and had a son, Raphael. They separated after several years; rumor was that they had an open marriage, but rumors are aplenty around De Niro. The most recent involves child support over twins he had with former girlfriend Toukie Smith. Smith claims De Niro was merely a sperm donor, but . . . well, why bother? De Niro’s life is a favorite grist for gossip columnists because he’s not prone to correcting them or answering their calls.