Robert De Niro’s next movie, “About My Father,” in which he plays comedian Sebastian Maniscalco’s Italian hairdresser father, comes out May 26 — but those who know the Manhattan-born actor say being a dad is his favorite real-life role.
De Niro, who will be 80 in August, just announced the birth of his seventh child, presumably with much younger girlfriend Tiffany Chen who was spotted sporting a baby bump last month.
“My jaw dropped when I heard he had another child,” writer Shawn Levy, author of 2014’s “De Niro: A Life,” told Page Six. “I mean he’s going to be 102 when the kid graduates from college. I think it’s crazy. At the same time I have to say he is absolutely a great dad. In fact one of the signature accomplishments of his life is keeping his kids and ex-partners close.”
De Niro has seven children with four different women — two with his first wife Diahnne Abbott, two more with girlfriend Toukie Smith, and two with his former wife Grace Hightower, as well as the newborn.
His oldest, adopted daughter Drena De Niro, is 51 years older than his youngest.
On Monday, De Niro — who has starred in films ranging from “Taxi Driver” and “Raging Bull” to “Meet the Fockers” and “The Irishman” — corrected an ET Canada reporter who said he was a father of six, clarifying that he “just had a baby.”
Chen is reportedly a Tai Chi instructor who met De Niro on the set 2015’s “The Intern,” in which she played a martial arts instructor.
The two were first linked in 2021 and Chen may be the “mystery woman” seen on a yacht off Antibes, France, with De Niro last year.
The actor’s busy love life has included flings with models Naomi Campbell and Veronica Webb, “Jagged Edge” actress Leigh Taylor-Young and Tatiana Thumbtzen, who starred in Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel” video.
Though Levy said the actor has managed to stay amicable and friendly with many of his exes, De Niro and Hightower had a lengthy and bitter divorce.
In 2018, the actor first filed for divorce from the philanthropist and former flight attendant, now 66, in 1999 — two years after their marriage and a year after the birth of their son, Elliot, now 25.
In 2004, though, the couple reunited, and their daughter, Grace, was born in 2011.
After separating again in 2018, De Niro and Hightower went into divorce hell for years.
In 2021, the actor’s lawyer claimed that De Niro was forced to work in his senior years to support with his estranged wife’s lavish lifestyle — including her “thirst for Stella McCartney” and $1 million-plus diamond rings.
Hightower’s counsel, meanwhile, alleged that De Niro was the one spending extravagantly, traveling to social engagements by private jet or helicopter.
Under the terms of their prenup, De Niro agreed to pay Hightower $1 million a year in alimony until she remarries or one of them dies.
De Niro himself was an only child and grew up with bohemian artist parents in downtown Manhattan.
His painter father, Robert De Niro Sr., was gay and divorced De Niro’s mother when the actor was very young.
Father and son remained close, however, and De Niro has been a doting dad to his own brood.
Levy quoted De Niro in his book as once saying: “I like my kids to be all around. I don’t like them to off here and there unless they really have a reason or a job that pulls them there. I think the Italian thing is good because the community stays together, you know the whole family lives in different apartments in the same building. That’s nice stuff if you can do it.”
“The women with whom he’s had children, and the kids, are all around him,” Levy told Page Six.
De Niro’s kids with Abbott are Drena, 51, an actress, producer and model, and Raphael, 46, a flashy Manhattan real-estate broker.
The actor also shares 27-year-old twins Julian, an actor, and Aaron with actress Toukie Smith.
In 2016, De Niro announced that Elliot, his son with Hightower, was diagnosed with autism.
While the actor has clarified that he is not “anti-vaccine,” in 2017 he questioned the CDC’s assertion that there is no link between vaccines and the onset of autism, saying that “something is not right.”
Elliot has become known for his accomplishments as a tennis player in the Special Olympics.
Parents at Manhattan’s chic Episcopal School, where De Niro’s second-youngest, Helen, was a student when she was younger, recall him picking her up every day.
“He’d bike over with a bodyguard to pick her up every day after school,” a mother of a student at Episcopal told The Post. “He looked like a disheveled old man but he was a really doting dad and his daughter loved him.”
The “Taxi Driver” star told ET Canada in May 2023 that he has to walk a fine line between being “loving” and “stern” while raising his brood.
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“I mean, there’s no way around it with kids. I don’t like to have to lay down the law and stuff like that. But, [sometimes] you just have no choice,” he said. “And any parent, I think, would say the same thing. You always want to do the right thing by the children and give them the benefit of the doubt but sometimes you can’t.”
In 2020, De Niro told People that he didn’t push his kids to go into show business— but he didn’t discourage it either.
“I tell them, ‘If you want to be an actor or you want to do this or that, that’s fine as long as you’re happy. Just don’t sell yourself short,’” he said, adding: “It’s important for them to find their own lane.”
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