Toukie Smith is the ex-girlfriend of actor Robert De Niro. De Niro has had an extensive and impressive career in the film industry, and his life’s work was honored at the 2020 Screen Actors Guild Awards.
In the 1990s, De Niro was in a long-term relationship with fellow actor Toukie Smith. The two were involved throughout the mid-1990s and together had two children. The pair split and De Niro soon after met his wife and partner of over two decades, Grace Hightower. But his relationship with Toukie has been one of speculation.
Here is what you need to know:
1. She is an actress and model
- Touki has spent decades as both a model and an actress. In her modeling career, she has modeled for brands such as Versace and Chanel. She signed her first modeling contract with Issey Miyake and, in 1978, she was named Bloomingdale’s “Favorite Model.”
- As an actress, Toukie was a regular on the NBC show 227. She also appeared on three episodes of Miami Vice.
2. She shares twin sons with Robert De Niro
During the 1990’s Toukie was in a relationship with actor Robert De Niro. Their relationship lasted from 1988 until 1996.
During their time together, the couple welcomed twin sons, Julian and Aaron, on October 20, 1995. The twins were conceived through In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) and carried by a surrogate. Both twins, now age 24, try to remain private and stay out of the spotlight.
As she became a known name associated with De Niro’s fame, she was adamant about retaining as much privacy as possible. In her words, she described her policy for privacy with, “Do you know how to spell private? P-R-I-V-A-T-E.’ And that’s with a capital P.”
3. She attended the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT)
Toukie attended one of the best fashion schools in the world, the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT). During her time at FIT, Toukie began runway modeling. She was featured in multiple shows, including a student showcase covered by The New York Times.
Fashion seems to run in Toukie’s family as her late brother, Willi Smith, was also a talented fashion designer. Prior to her brother’s passing, Toukie worked for her brother’s fashion label, Willi Smith Designs. She often modeled his designs in shows and on the runway.
The influence of her brother on her career and life inspired Toukie to advocate for “Willi Smith Day”, an official day designated by the mayor of New York to remember her brother and his accomplishments.
4. Her nickname comes from her grandmother
Born with the name Doris, she says that her grandmother, Gladys Bush, used to tell her a story and sing a song about an energetic fire engine, and it was that anecdote that resulted in her nickname of “Toukie.”
Toukie has said that the song from which her nickname is derived comes from a record called “Little Toot Was Just A Toot.” She has fondly recalled the lyrics of the album and the affection she received from her grandmother.
Songs have played an important part in Toukie’s life. In addition to gaining her lifelong nickname from a song, she has stated that she has relied on songs to help her get through difficult times, including the deaths of loved one.
5. She comes from a modest background
Toukie may model for some of the world’s most recognizable brands, but she grew up quite modestly. Her father was a butcher and her mother worked in a factory. She grew up with two brothers, including the late fashion designer Willi Smith.
Her parents divorced when she was four-years-old and Toukie has spoken about how she was raised within her extended family, including her grandmother who bestowed upon her the nickname “Toukie.”
The death of her mother, who passed from cirrhosis in 1986, took a strong toll on Toukie. She has described watching her mother suffer through illness and subsequently losing her brother as obstacles to her outlook, but she has ultimately remained happy and positive because she chooses to focus on the joyful memories of the ones she loves.