Robert De Niro has lived a full life within the world of Hollywood showbiz. He is rightly seen as one of the greatest actors ever after having won numerous awards, including two Oscars.
At the same time as De Niro has been hugely successful on-screen, he has led a quiet private life. He’s been married twice and only split up with his second wife, Grace Hightower, in 2018.
Though their divorce seemed to be pretty routine at first, new information has now emerged courtesy of De Niro’s his ex-wife. Not only that, but if De Niro’s lawyer is to be believed, the well-known actor is being “forced to work” to finance Hightower’s luxurious lifestyle.
Robert De Niro – marriages
“The way I remember it, the movies that were becoming the blockbuster type films, Godfather part one was the first one that I remember in my lifetime as a young man.
“Then there was Jaws, then there was Godfather II, so these movies started coming out that were huge. The anticipation of Godfather II was really big. Luckily, Francis [Ford Coppola] wanted me to do it.”
De Niro followed up his success with a chilling performance in Taxi Driver, which earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. He earned another nomination for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his performances in The Deer Hunter (1979). Then, in 1981, De Niro won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role for Raging Bull.
By this point, De Niro had become one of Hollywood’s top actors. But it wasn’t just his career that was going well. Around the same time, De Niro settled down and married his first wife, actress and singer Diahnne Abbott, in 1976. The same year, the couple welcomed son Raphael De Niro, with Robert also adopting Diahnne’s daughter Drena from a previous marriage.
In 1988, De Niro and Diahnne divorced. The actor continued working on many films, and 10 years after the divorce, he married actress Grace Hightower.
Before their marriage, De Niro had dated model Toukie Smith for eight years, having twins via in vitro fertilization and a surrogate mother.
De Niro and Hightower actually met for the first time back at a London nightclub in 1987. She worked at the famous Mr. Chow restaurant in London at the time.
Marriage to Grace Hightower
A little more than a decade later, the couple married at their home in Marbletown, New York. The ceremony was a small, intimate one, with actors such as Harvey Keitel and Joe Pesci in attendance.
Of their early relationship, Grace said that “it was an ease-in. It wasn’t a whirlwind.”
A year later, the couple announced the birth of their son, Elliot. The two parents decided to keep the lives of their children very private. In 2016, however, De Niro decided to spread awareness on autism by publicly revealing that Elliot had been diagnosed with the condition.
“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,” he said.
Sadly, it wasn’t long before De Niro and Hightower’s marriage devolved into a broken one. In 1999, the Godfather actor filed for divorce. As reported by People, a friend of his said that “Bobby was just not working hard enough at his marriage to Grace.”
The two co-parented Elliot for a year before a custody battle erupted. De Niro and Grace headed to court, and many expected things would turn ugly. But before they could go too far, “Bobby” and his wife made amends and the divorce was never finalized.
In 2004, the two renewed their vows at their home, with friends such as Meryl Streep, Martin Scorsese, and Ben Stiller in attendance.
“They can make sure this one sticks,” De Niro said at the ceremony.
Over the course of her marriage to De Niro, Grace has done many things, including working as an actress and a singer. She even started her own java brand called Coffee of Grace.
The couple welcomed a daughter, Helen, in 2011. But even though they had renewed their vows to once again show their love for one another, theirs wasn’t a bond that would last forever.
In November of 2018, De Niro and Hightower announced that they were splitting after 20 years of marriage.
“Grace and I have two beautiful children together. We are entering a period of transition in our relationship which is a difficult but constructive process,” the statement from De Niro read.
“I honor Grace as a wonderful mother and ask for privacy and respect from all as we proceed to develop our roles as partners in parenting.