Robert De Niro, 79, has created an illustrious career in the entertainment world, a career that spans an impressive seven decades. He has starred in some of the most iconic films, including Martin Scorsese’s 1973 film Mean Streets and 1990’s Goodfellas, and has two Oscars to his name, plus four Emmy nominations. He didn’t achieve such great success on his own, though, as he has had two wives supporting him through it all over the years. Read on to learn about Robert’s former wives, Diahnne Abbott and Grace Hightower.
Diahnne is an actress and singer born in New York City on Jan. 1, 1945. She had a solid resume of roles in the 1970s and the 1980s, including in Taxi Driver, in which Robert starred (that’s also where they met!). However, she slowed down her career in the late ’80s and only has six credits on IMDb in the 2000s. She is most recognized as Robert’s first wife, having married him in 1976.
While her career was thriving, she welcomed a son with Robert, Raphael De Niro, who was born on Nov. 9, 1976. Although she only has one biological kid with Robert, Diahnne had a daughter, Drena, from a previous relationship, who Robert adopted after they got married. Drena is an actress herself and had appeared in several films alongside her super successful father, such as 1997’s Wag the Dog, 2002’s City by the Sea, and 2018’s The Intern. Diannhe and Robert’s union lasted until 1988.
While there is not much known about Diahnne and Robert’s relationship, he once told people to not have kids with someone if they’re going to end up divorced. “The only thing I would say is that if you get married, it’s easier probably not to have children if you’re going to split up — it makes life simpler,” he told the Belfast Telegraph in 2014 (via Huffpost). If it were only that simple!
Grace is an actress, entrepreneur, and philanthropist who was born in Mississippi on April 7, 1955. While she does have a few acting credits on her IMDb page, she seems most moved by her business, Grace Hightower & Coffees, the website of which claims to work with the people of Rwanda and strive for a better future. “Founder and CEO, Grace Hightower De Niro was motivated and inspired by the Rwandan people’s courageous spirit to succeed,” the website reads. “These individuals inspired us to bring you a collection of coffees that highlight the extraordinary flavor characteristics found within Rwanda. Their coffees represent the promise of a better future; one that harnesses the inner strength of the Rwandan people and the fertility of the land on which they live.”
The Cape Fear actor and Grace walked down the aisle in 1997, nearly a decade after they first met in London at a nightclub. They welcomed their first child together, son Elliot, in March 1998. Unfortunately, though, Robert filed for divorce a year later. “Bobby was just not working hard enough at his marriage to Grace,” a friend of Robert’s told People at the time. An intense custody battle ensued, but the pair were able to reconcile and even renewed their vows in 2004. Things between the couple appeared to be going well and in 2011, Grace and Robert surprised fans when they welcomed their second child together via surrogate: a girl named Helen.
Unfortunately, seven years later, their happy world crumbled, and Robert confirmed that he and Grace were getting divorced. “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,” he told People in a statement in Nov. 2018. “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.”
Unfortunately, the divorce turned quite bitter, and Grace was accused of demanding that her credit card limit, which is attached to the Raging Bull actor’s bank account, remain at $100,000 per month after Robert cut it in half when he faced financial troubles during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Page Six. Furthermore, Robert’s lawyer, Caroline Krauss, said he cannot retire due to his financial stress and obligations. “These people, in spite of his robust earnings, have always spent more than he has earned, so this 76-year-old robust man couldn’t retire even if he wanted to because he can’t afford to keep up with his lifestyle expense,” she said to a judge in 2020.