Robert de Niro Confessed That Raising Biracial Kids Is ‘Scary’ — He Adores His 6 Children

Award-winning Hollywood A-Lister Robert De Niro is a proud father of six children whom he is overly protective of. Because the kids are biracial, he fears for them.

Robert De Niro is an Oscar-winning actor well-known for starring in movies such as “Taxi Driver,” “The Intern,” and “The Godfather: Part II.”

The veteran star has worked with many acclaimed film directors, including Elia Kazan, Brian De Palma, and notably Martin Scorsese, with whom he collaborated on nine projects. Here are the details of Robert’s marriages and children.


“The Deer Hunter” star has six kids with three different women. Robert has two children with his first wife, actress Diahnne Abbott, whom he wed in 1976 but divorced in 1988 after 12 years of marriage.
Abbott also happens to be his former co-star from “Taxi Driver,” where they met and in which she made her film debut in the psychological thriller in 1976 where she played an unnamed box office clerk.

In the singer’s first movie, Abbott portrayed receptionist Jeannette Ross in the drama film “Welcome to L.A.” Her next role was in 1977’s “New York, New York,” where she played a Harlem Club singer in the musical drama.

Abbott’s most recent acting credit was in the film “James Abbott Is Gone,” released in 2013. The 77-year-old was born in 1945 in New York City.

According to, there is little information about her childhood or family. However, a fact that is public knowledge is that one of her relatives is Gregory Abbott, a famous singer, musician, and composer.

Robert’s next relationship was with former girlfriend, Toukie Smith. The pair had a long-term relationship in the mid-1990s and welcomed two children. But they experienced anguish when the “Goosed” alum suffered a miscarriage and had to go to therapy.

Smith, 70, is an actress and model, and in her modeling career, she has worked for high-end fashion brands such as Chanel and Versace.

As an actress, the Pennsylvania native was a regular on the NBC show “227” where she played Eva Rawley and appeared on three episodes of “Miami Vice.”

Following Robert’s split with Smith, he met his second wife and partner of over two decades, Grace Hightower. The pair first met at a London nightclub in 1987, but it took them ten years to wed.

Robert and Hightower exchanged their wedding vows at their home in Marbletown, New York, in June 1977. That fall, they conceived their first child together.

In August 1999, the producer filed for divorce from the actress, and a friend of his said he was not working at his marriage to Hightower. However, the couple reconciled after that.

They even renewed their vows at their upstate New York home witnessed by famous friends, including Ben Stiller and Meryl Streep. Still, after 21 years of marriage, the pair headed for divorce again, and that time, they went through a messy battle.


The Academy Award winner has a stepdaughter from his first marriage named Drena De Niro, born on September 3, 1971, who took his last name. Drena went on to follow in her parent’s footsteps in showbiz.

She is an actress and a model. Her transition to acting began in her mid-20s when she starred in “Grace of My Heart.” Over the following years, she added to her credits, appearing in “A Star Is Born,” including the movie “Joy” co-starring her stepfather.

Speaking on her work experience with Robert, Drena said it was weird and strange at first, but it became comforting as she got used to it.

The mom of two noted that he is a great father and grandfather. Moreover, Drena shared the 79-year-old got her son to do things that no one else could which put him in a good position as a grandparent.

Raphael De Niro is the first child between Robert and Abbott, who arrived on November 9, 1976. Much like his half-sister, the 46-year-old also began his career in acting.

He previously appeared alongside his dad in “Awakenings” and “Raging Bull.” Raphael later pursued a different profession and is now a real estate broker founding the firm De Niro Team, Douglas Elliman. His clients include Hollywood stars Kelly Ripa and Jon Bon Jovi.

He has been married twice, and his first marriage was to Claudine De Niro from 2008 to 2017. The former couple share three children.

Raphael is currently married to 37-year-old Hannah Carnes De Niro. On having a famous father, he told the New York Times in January 2011:

“People can say whatever they want, but at the end of the day, no one is buying a $10 million apartment because my dad is Robert De Niro. Many of them have more money than my dad.”

Following his divorce from Abbott, Robert dated Smith from 1988 to 1996, and they welcomed twin sons, Julian and Aaron De Niro. The kids were conceived via in-vitro fertilization and born via surrogate in October 1995.

Both Aaron and Julian, 27, are relatively private about their lives but have attended red carpet events with their parents as youngsters, and as adults, they lead quiet lives.

Robert welcomed his other son Elliot with Hightower in March 1998. The 24-year-old is a young person with special needs, his parents enrolled him in tennis lessons, and he grew to love the sport.

After his parents decided to work on their marriage the second time around, they expanded their family and welcomed their daughter Helen De Niro in 2011 via surrogate. There is less information about the 11-year-old.


Getting candid about raising biracial children, the director opened up about fatherhood and being a grandfather of four in January 2020, saying having kids changed his world perspective:

“When you become a parent, there are certain things that you become more aware of, more sensitive about.”

Being a dad to biracial children gets Robert sometimes scared, especially when it comes to the massive issue of racism in the country: “My children are all half black, and I don’t have, even me, I take certain things for granted,” he noted referring to having more opportunities as a white man.

He said when people advise their kids on how to behave when stopped by police officers, telling them to keep their hands where officers could see them, keeping them on the steering wheel, and remaining still, he understands that. Robert added it is scary and has to change.

In his role as a father, the New York native said it was not easy being a dad and told Us Weekly in April 2019 that it is challenging though he adores his kids and being with them.

Robert explained that it can be fun at times, and even though he loves them, sometimes they get under his skin, adding that even so when he has good moments, he forgets about the bad moments.


The father of six is a supportive parent, and though he rarely speaks often about his brood, it shows how much of a loving dad he is and only wants what is best for his children.

A few years ago, Robert confirmed that his son Elliot had been diagnosed with autism and that he is beyond protective of him, saying:

“Grace and I have a child with autism, and we believe it is critical that all of the issues surrounding the causes of autism be openly discussed and examined.”

Meanwhile, when coming to his older son Raphael, he helps him with his real estate business in his little ways. Robert previously revealed that he tries to put the former actor in touch with people who sometimes do not even call him back.

Overall, when it comes to his other kids who have followed his steps in acting, Robert said that he told them if they wanted to become actors, it was fine as long as it made them happy.

He cautioned the children, advising them not to sell themselves short and encouraging them to reach greater heights until they eventually realize their dreams. Robert told them not to be afraid because they must discover their paths.

Devashish Sharma

About Devashish Sharma

Journalist/Environment Lover/Introvert. Devashish, editor at DNA/Emotionified has 5 years of experience in active journalism and is crazy about movies in his free time.

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