Robert De Niro will be honored with the Screen Actor’s Guild (SAG) Life Achievement Award at the 26th annual SAG Awards on January 19, 2020. The award-winning actor and producer has six children and is currently in the process of getting divorced from his second wife, Grace Hightower.
De Niro was born in Manhattan in 1943 to parents Virginia Admiral and Robert De Niro Sr. His parents divorced two years after he was born when his father announced that he was gay. De Niro was then raised by his mother in Greenwich Village and Little Italy; since his father lived nearby, he was able to spend a lot of time with him growing up.
De Niro began acting when he was a child. His stage debut was when he was 10 years old; he played the Cowardly Lion in a school production of The Wizard of Oz. De Niro dropped out of high school when he was 16 years old to pursue a future in acting.
Here’s what you should know about De Niro’s family:
1. De Niro Has Been Married Twice
Robert De Niro has been married two times and has a total of six children. His first marriage was to actress Diahnne Abbott. While married to Diahnne, De Niro adopted her daughter, Drena, and the couple welcomed Raphael De Niro into the world. Robert De Niro and Abbott divorced in 1988.
After getting divorced from Abbott, De Niro was in a long-term relationship with former model Toukie Smith. Together, they had twin sons conceived by in vitro fertilization and delivered by a surrogate mother. Julian and Aaron were born in 1995.
In 1997, De Niro married Grace Hightower. They welcomed their son Elliot in 1998. The couple split up in 1999 but reconciled before 2004, when they renewed their vows. Their daughter Helen was born via surrogate in 2011.
2. His Youngest Child is 8 Years Old
Helen De Niro, Robert De Niro’s youngest child, was born in 2011. Helen was born via a surrogate to mother Grace Hightower De Niro and Robert De Niro. She was the second child to the couple, with Elliot being 13 years old when Helen was born. Pictured above is an Instagram photo from 2014 of Helen with her older sister Drena De Niro.
Helen was caught in the middle of a custody battle between her parents in early 2020. The couple filed for divorce in 2018 and have been co-parenting Helen since.
They reached a custody agreement in January.
“My understanding is the parties have reached an agreement as to the terms of a parent agreement for their child,” Justice Matthew Cooper told New York Daily News. “Their daughter is very happy that is what has occurred today.”
3. He Adopted His Oldest Daughter
Drena De Niro is the daughter of actress Diahnne Abbott and the adoptive daughter of Robert De Niro. Drena was born in 1967. When her mother married Robert De Niro in 1976, Drena took De Niro’s last name and he adopted her.
Growing up, Drena divided her time between New York City, Los Angeles, and Italy, which became a driving factor in her future embrace of the arts. After graduating from high school, Drena began her career as a model. She then became a DJ and a fashion consultant, spending time working as a musical supervisor for Giorgio Armani and serving as the creative force behind musical backdrops for exclusive runway shoes.
Drena transitioned to acting in the late 1990s, later transitioning further to working on writing and directing. She wrote and directed her first film, Girls and Dolls, in 2001. She is now the spokesperson for the Kageno Orphan Sponsorship program and lives in New York City with her son.
4. Raphael De Niro is a Real Estate Broker
Raphael De Niro is De Niro’s second-oldest child. He was born to actress Diahnne Abbott and Robert De Niro after they married in 1976.
Raphael was born in Los Angeles but moved with to New York when he was a child. There, he worked at various summer jobs including in a Persian rug store as a doorman. He also worked as a production assistant on movie sets for Robert De Niro and as a busboy at a restaurant owned by his father.
Raphael has appeared in several films, some alongside his father. He first appeared in Love Stream in 1984, James Abbott is Gone in 2013, Raging Bull in 1980 and Awakenings in 1990. He obtained his real estate broker’s license in 2003 and sold $600 million in properties in his first six years in real estate. He currently works as a broker for Douglas Elliman and was ranked first in The Real Deal’s Manhattan top residential agents in 2017. He has three children.
5. De Niro is a Grandfather to Four
Robert De Niro has six children of his own, and he also has four grandchildren. Drena De Niro has one son, and Raphael De Niro has three children. The actor keeps his family life private for the most part, so there are not many pictures of the children or him with his children on social media.
“There are great moments and moments of sadness,” he told PEOPLE about raising his children. “Sometimes you’re the last person they want to deal with. It’s like when you walk your kids to school and they get older and they don’t want to hold your hand or kiss you goodbye.”
Tune in to the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards tonight, January 19, 2020 at 8 p.m. EST to see Leonardo DiCaprio present Robert De Niro with the SAG Life Achievement Award.