This week I thought we’ll get to know another screen legend in the person of Robert De Niro. We all remember him from classics like Godfather 11 and God Fellas. Maybe one of these days the men will let me know why they love the movie Godfather so much.
Our legend Robert Anthony De Niro was born on August 14th 1943 in New York City to two artists; Virginia Admiral, a painter and Robert De Niro Sr, an abstract expressionist painter and sculptor. Sadly, De Niro’s parents divorced by the time he was three and he ended up being raised by his mother. Kudos to his mother for a job well done because De Niro is considered to be one of the greatest American actors of all time having starred in over 90 films with a net worth of $200 million. Although he is sometimes referred to as an Italian-American actor, De Niro is actually one quarter Italian in ancestry.
He first discovered his love for acting at age 10 when he portrayed The Cowardly Lion in a local production of “The Wizard of Oz”. At the age of 17, after leaving the movies with a friend, he unexpectedly stated that he was going to be a film actor. No one believed him until he dropped out of his senior year of high school and joined Stella Adler’s acting school. At the age of 20 De Niro landed his first film role in the film, “The Wedding Party” which was directed by Brian De Palma. But he didn’t gain full exposure until he played a dying baseball player in the film “Bang the drum slowly”. Soon De Niro would begin his rich partnership with Martin Scorsese in the film, ” (1973). In 1974, after being turned down for the role of Sonny Corleone in the crime film The Godfather (1972), he was cast as the young Vito Corleone in “The Godfather II” for which he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.
From there De Niro’s career took off with strings of acclaimed performances from “Taxi Driver (1976) and Cape Fear (1991) both directed by Scorsese with additional Academy Awards nominations. The part of Travis Bickle in “Taxi Driver” would make him an icon and the phrase “You talkin’ to me”(which De Niro improvised) would go on to become a classic line in American cinema. De Niro’s longtime collaboration with Scorsese later earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Jake LaMotta in another Martin Scorsese’s film “Raging Bull” where to play real-life boxer, De Niro learned how to box and gained sixty pounds for the part.
De Niro made his directorial debut with “A Bronx Tale“. He did not return to the director’s chair until 2006 with “The Good Sheppard“.
His performance as Jake LaMotta in “Raging Bull” (1980) is ranked #10 on Premiere Magazine’s 100 Greatest Performances of All Time (2006). In 2005 Premiere Magazine ranked him as #38 on a list of the Greatest Movie Stars of All Time in their Stars in Our Constellation feature. In October 1997 he ranked #5 in Empire (UK) magazine’s “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time” list. He was voted the 34th Greatest Movie Star of all time by Entertainment Weekly and voted the Number 2 greatest movie star of all time in a Channel 4 (UK) poll, narrowly being beaten by Al Pacino. He was voted as the best actor of all time at FilmFour.com (2002). And inducted into the Italian-American Hall of Fame in 2002.
De Niro currently resides in New York where he is committed to building the TriBeca area. He has been married twice; first to Dianne Abbott in 1976 and actress Grace Hightower in 1997. They split up in 1998 but the divorce wasn’t finalized and in 2004 they renewed their vows. Typical right? But twice aint bad by Hollywood standards. De Niro has six children; twin sons conceived by in vitrofertilization and delivered by a surrogate mother in 1995, from a long relationship with former model Touke Smith, one adopted daughter from his first wife, another daughter born via surrogate and two sons from each of his wives. He also has four grandchildren.
It was reported in October 2003 that De Niro had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. He underwent in December 2003. The cancer has now gone into remission. Thank God!
De Niro isn’t shy of politics, he’s a staunch supporter of the US Democratic Party. He lobbied Congress against impeaching President Bill Clinton in 1998. He supported Al Gore, John Kerry and Barrack Obama for presidential elections.
There’s no doubt that Robert De Niro is a legend in a class of his own. I definitely enjoyed getting to know our The Niro and look forward to seeing more of him on screen. Wishing you a great week ahead. Bye Bye.