22 Interesting Robert De Niro Facts You Probably Didn’t Know Before

22 Interesting Robert De Niro Facts You Probably Didn’t Know Before

Last updated on September 8th, 2021 at 08:58 am

“robert-de-niro-gambling-man” by Chingster23 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Robert De Niro is one of the most influential Hollywood actors today and one of the greatest actors ever to grace the acting scene. Born in New York on August 17, 1943, his parents were abstract expressionist painters. The Oscar winner developed an interest in acting when he visited local movie houses together with his father. His first major debut was in a low-budget film named ‘The Wedding Party’ made in 1963 but released in 1969. Below are some of the most interesting Robert De Niro facts you may not know.

1. De Niro is one of the richest actors in the world

According to WealthyGorilla, Robert De Niro has a net worth of about $500 Million. He earned most of his wealth from his roles in classic movies such as The Godfather Part II, The Intern, and most recently Dirty Grandpa. Outside of acting, the accomplished actor has multiple business ventures. De Niro is the co-founder of a successful chain of Japanese restaurants known as Nobu, a premier luxury brand with operations in five continents.

Nobu restaurants are found in over 40 locations across the world. Robert De Niro co-owns the restaurant, which generates millions of dollars annually. The other owners are Chef Nobu and Meir Teper. The Hollywood star is also a co-owner of the Greenwich Hotel, used as a permanent gallery for his father’s work. His other hospitality industry investments include a $250 million lavish resort named ‘Paradise Found’ that offers luxury service on the Caribbean Island of Barbuda. (Wealthy Gorilla)

2. He is a two-time Oscar winner

Robert De Niro has bagged two Oscar Awards from his eight Academy Award nominations. He won the coveted Oscar for best-supporting actor for his role Vito Corleone in the classic movie The Godfather Part II. De Niro, alongside Marlon Brando, won an Oscar for playing the same fictional Vito Corleone character.  He also won an Oscar for his role Jake LaMotta in the 1980 movie Raging Bull. The respected actor has won numerous other awards for his outstanding work in the acting arena. (AAF.org)

3. He is a cancer survivor

One of the most encouraging and inspiring facts about Robert De Niro is his successful battle with cancer. In 2003, doctors discovered he had prostate cancer; he had just clocked 60 years of age. Fortunately, the cancer was detected at an early stage thanks to his routine cancer screening.

The prolific actor won the battle with prostate cancer, and made a full recovery in 2011. Despite the health issues, he still appeared in movies such as Godsend, Shark Tale, Meet the Fockers, and The Bridge of San Luis Rey, all released in 2004. (Everyday Health)

4. De Niro is a high school drop out

At just 16 years, Robert De Niro dropped out of high school and chose a different path. After quitting school, the award-winning actor enrolled at the Stella Adler Conservatory, where he studied acting. It worked out well for him, and he eventually got an honorary degree from Bates College, a private liberal arts institution. He joins the list of actors who never finished high school, which includes the likes of Rusell Crowe, Jessica Chastain, Mark Wahlberg, Charlize Theron, Emma Stone, and John Travolta, among others.(Fox News)

5. He is the only child

Robert Anthony De Niro Jr.’s parents separated when he was only two years old, and eventually divorced. His mother primarily raised him, and there’s no other known sibling of the celebrated actor. This is one of the facts about Robert De Niro that very few people know about. He joins the list of actors claiming the only child status, which includes Leonardo Di Caprio, Al Pacino, Charlize Theron, Natalie Portman, Samuel L. Jackson, among others. (IMDb)

6. Robert De Niro has six biracial children

One of the many facts about Robert De Niro that some people have no idea of is that he has six mixed-race children from three different women. De Niro is a very private person and often keeps his immediate family away from the limelight. Therefore, it is no surprise that not many of his fans know about his six kids. His eldest daughter Drena De Niro is 48 years old; Robert adopted her in 1976. The second eldest child, Raphael De Niro, is 44 years old. Robert also has twin sons who are 24 years old, delivered by a surrogate mother. Elliot De Niro and Helen Grace De Niro are the youngest kids, 21 years, and 8 years respectively. (People Magazine)

7. Robert first entered the acting scene when he was just ten years old

De Niro played the Cowardly Lion character in a staging of The Wizard of Oz in elementary school at just the age of 10. At that tender age, he had already discovered his love for acting. Even though he was a bit shy, the performance helped him outgrow his fear. He went on to drop out of high school and pursue acting at the age of 16. (Untouchable: Biography of Robert De Niro)

8. He once held the record for gaining the most weight for an acting role

The actor underwent a drastic body change when he gained almost 60 pounds in preparation for the role of Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull. As a result, he developed breathing issues and rashes, but his unhealthy transformation paid off when he bagged an Oscar for the role. Actor Vincent D’Onofrio dethroned De Niro when he gained 70 pounds for his role in the 1987 movie Full Metal Jacket. (Insider Magazine)

9. He was willing to go to the extreme for what he loved doing

De Niro once made an insane sacrifice just to play a violent criminal character when he paid a dentist $5,000 to mess up his teeth. He wanted to assume the physical traits of the sadistic ex-con, and was willing to go to the extreme to achieve that. Later, after filming, he paid the same dentist $20,000 to repair the damage. One funny fact is that the actor also has Dentophobia.This is just one of the manyfacts about Robert De Niro that prove his true passion for acting. (Dental Brothers)

10. He was questioned and held by French Police over a prostitution racket

This infamous incident happened in 1998 when the actor was held and questioned by the French authorities to determine if he was involved in an international prostitution ring. Robert walked scot-free and was never charged in a French court regarding the case since there was no sufficient proof to link him with the prostitution ring. He was very perturbed by the incident and swore never to set foot in France again. However, he went back to France in 2016 when he served as a judge at the 64th Cannes International Film Festival. (Variety Magazine)

11. He was the first guest of talk-show ‘The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon’

In February 2014, the show premiered, and guess who emerged from behind the curtain as the first guest? Well, it was none other than Oscar-winning actor Robert De Niro. If you know so many facts about Robert De Niro, you probably didn’t know this one. Or did you?  (Variety Magazine)

12. De Niro’s father came out as gay

Robert De Niro was raised by his mother, and he wasn’t very close with his father. He came out as gay when Robert was just a child, which led to his parents separating and later on divorcing. Robert still has profound respect for his father, and in a 2014 interview with Out Magazine, he described him as a loving father. (Out Magazine)

13. Owns a film production company

Robert De Niro, Craig Hatkoff, and Jane Rosenthal co-founded global media company, Tribeca Enterprises, in 2003. The film production company is based in Tribeca, a Manhattan neighborhood, New York City. It operates a chain of other entertainment-related businesses such as The Tribeca Film Festival, Tribeca Cinemas, and the Tribeca Film Festival International. (Tribeca Film)

14. He dated Naomi Campbell

The relationship between British supermodel Naomi Campbell and American actor Robert De Niro lasted for a short while in the 90s. They made the headlines back, then but broke up later. It was rumored that Naomi wanted to have children with De Niro, but those claims are unsubstantiated. (Vogue Magazine)

15. The actor was inducted into the Italian-American Hall of Fame

Robert De Niro Snr was half Italian and Irish, making Robert De Niro Jr one-quarter Italian. Despite his multiple ethnic backgrounds, the actor stated that he “identifies more with his Italian side.”In 2002, the Oscar-winning Hollywood actor was enlisted into the Italian-American Hall of Fame in a high-profile event attended by almost 3000 people.(NIAF)

16. He shares a birthday with fellow actor Sean Penn

Robert De Niro’s birthday is on August 17, 1943, the same day American actor, director, and producer Sean Penn was born. However, Robert De Niro is 17 years older than Sean Penn. He joins the list of famous actors born on August 17, which includes Austin Butler, Drew Justice, Bryton James, and Joe Ashman, among others. Interestingly, one of the little-known facts about Robert De Niro is that he has also featured in three movies alongside Sean Penn. They include We Are No Angels (1989), What Just Happened (2008) and Dear America: Letters Home from Vietnam.(IMDb)

17. De Niro is Entertainment Weekly’s 34th Greatest Movie Star of All Time

Two-time Oscar winner Robert De Niro is ranked number 34 as the Greatest Movie Star of All Time. Some of the classic movies that propelled the legendary actor to number 34 among the greatest of all time include Raging Bull (1980), The King of Comedy (1983), The Deer Hunter (1978), Taxi Driver (1976), The Godfather Part II (1974), Mean Streets (1973) among many others.(Amazon)

18. He received the presidential medal of freedom

The presidential medal of freedom is the highest civilian award in the United States, bestowed by the United States president. It is given to individuals who have made meritorious contributions to the State, world peace, or public or private endeavors. Robert De Niro was among those who received this coveted award by the 44th president of the United States, Barack Obama, in 2016.

De Niro receiving his presidential medal of freedom at The White House in November 2016. Source: Creative Commons

The award was given to 21 key individuals who included celebrities, media personalities, and athletes. This is just one of the many amazing facts about Robert De Niro we though you should know about. (Time Magazine)

19. He is actively involved in politics

The actor publicly endorsed Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the 2016 U.S. elections. De Niro is not known to mince his words, and at one time promised to punch the 45th president of the United States, Donald J. Trump. This is just one of the many surprising facts about Robert De Niro. He was a longtime critic of the former U.S. president and even went ahead and publicly expressed a sigh of relief when the President was not re-elected in 2020. (The Washington Post)

20. He used to hang around a New York Street gang

The origin of his nickname is one of the many facts about Robert De Niro many people do not know about. He was given the name ‘Bobby Milk’ by members of a street gang that he used to hang around within Little Italy, Manhattan. His complexion was so pale as a teen, hence the nickname ‘Bobby Milk.'(Vanity Fair)

21. De Niro has investments in the real estate industry

The actor has amassed great wealth over the course of his acting career, but real estate investments have also contributed to his fortune. He has properties attributed to his name in east and west Manhattan. His main house sits on about 98 acres of land, located in Gardiner, New York. His two former homes are in Manhattan’s West Village and Central Park West in New York City. The Manhattan’s West Village home was listed on the market in 2015, for a starting price of $39.5 Million. (Velvet Ropes)

22. He has three passports

Robert De Niro was born on U.S soil; therefore,he isa U.S citizen by birth. He has Italian ancestry as well, and in 2006 he was granted an Italian passport which makes him a dual citizen of the U.S and Italy. Therefore, he can work, live and do business in Italy and other European Union countries. He also received a diplomatic passport from Antigua, a small Caribbean Island nation, granting him his third passport. (Sovereign Man) 

Robert De Niro is a multitalented actor who has been in the Hollywood scene for over five decades now. He was won various accolades, and many people know him for his collaboration with film director Martin Scorsese. De Niro became famous for his role in the movie ‘Bang the Drum Slowly’ in 1973. His most popular films are The Taxi Driver, The Godfather: Part II, Raging Bull, and The Intern.

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  1. Wealthy Gorilla: https://wealthygorilla.com/richest-actors-world/
  2. Everyday Health: https://www.everydayhealth.com/prostate-cancer-pictures/famous-men-who-battled-prostate-cancer.aspx
  3. Fox News: https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/20-celebrities-who-never-finished-high-school
  4. IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/list/ls025246070/
  5. People Magazine: https://people.com/movies/robert-de-niro-on-raising-6-biracial-kids/
  6. Untouchable: Biography of Robert De Niro: https://www.amazon.com/Untouchable-Biography-Robert-Andy-Dougan/dp/1560254696
  7. Insider Magazine: https://www.insider.com/actors-gained-weight-for-roles-2017-4#:~:text=Robert%20de%20Niro%20gained%2060,scene%20of%20%22Raging%20Bull.%22&text=In%20order%20to%20play%20the,the%20boxer%20during%20his%20heyday.
  8. Dental Brothers: https://www.dentalbrothers.com/8-celebrities-who-are-afraid-of-the-dentist/
  9.  Variety: https://variety.com/1998/film/news/disgusted-de-niro-vows-self-exile-from-france-1117468145/
  10.  Variety Magazine: https://variety.com/2014/tv/news/jimmy-fallons-debut-as-tonight-show-host-dominates-in-ratings-monday-1201110389/
  11.  Out Magazine: https://www.out.com/movies/2016/8/17/robert-de-niro-me-my-gay-dad?page=0%2C0
  12.  Tribeca Film: https://www.tribecafilm.com/about
  13.  Vogue: https://www.vogue.co.uk/article/naomi-campbell-wanted-robert-de-niro-to-be-the-father-of-her-children
  14.  NIAF: https://www.niaf.org/niaf_event/robert-de-niro-sophia-loren-tommy-mottola-honored-at-the-niaf-27th-anniversary/
  15.  IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/news/ni62989688
  16. Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Entertainment-Weekly-Greatest-Movie-Stars/dp/B002B1BROY
  17.  Time Magazine: https://time.com/4580807/president-obama-presidential-medal-of-freedom/
  18.  The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/arts-entertainment/2020/05/13/robert-de-niro-trump-feud/
  19.  Vanity Fair: https://www.vanityfair.com/news/1987/10/robert-de-niro-life-story
  20. Velvet Ropes: https://www.velvetropes.com/backstage/robert-de-niro-house
  21.  Sovereign Man: https://www.sovereignman.com/international-diversification-strategies/how-robert-de-niro-ended-up-with-three-passports-26712/#:~:text=So%20De%20Niro%20was%20able,%2C%20Spain%2C%20Germany%20and%20Sweden.

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