Robert Mario De Niro, Jr. (born August 17, 1943) is an American actor, director and producer. He has won two Academy Awards and is widely regarded as one of the greatest and most influential actors of all time.
De Niro is widely acclaimed for his method acting and portrayals of conflicted, troubled characters and for his enduring collaboration with director Martin Scorsese. He is best-known for his roles as the young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II; cabbie Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver; boxer Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull; mobster Jimmy Conway in Goodfellas; casino director Sam "Ace" Rothstein in Casino; Mobster Paul Vitti in Analyze This, Al Capone in The Untouchables; revenge seeking ex-con Max Cady in Cape Fear; Noodles in Once Upon a Time in America; Louis Gara in Jackie Brown; Michael Vronsky in The Deer Hunter and more recently as Jack Byrnes in Meet the Parents and Meet the Fockers.
De Niro was born in New York City, the son of Virginia Admiral, a painter, and Robert De Niro, Sr., an abstract expressionist painter and sculptor. De Niro's father was of Italian and Irish descent, and his mother was of German, French, and Dutch descent. His Italian great-grandparents, Giovanni De Niro and Angelina Mercurio, emigrated from Ferrazzano, in the province of Campobasso, Molise, and his paternal grandmother, Helen O'Reilly, was the granddaughter of Edward O'Reilly, an emigrant from Ireland.
De Niro's parents, who had met at the painting classes of Hans Hofmann in Provincetown, Massachusetts, divorced when he was two years old. De Niro grew up in the Little Italy area of Manhattan.
Because of his small, skinny frame and pale complexion, De Niro was nicknamed Bobby Milk. De Niro first attended the Little Red School House and was then enrolled by his mother at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music and Art in New York, a division of which (officially named The School of Performing Arts: A Division of the Fiorello H. La Guardia High School of Music and the Arts) was attended by fellow Godfather II actor Al Pacino. He dropped out at the age of 13 and joined a Little Italy street gang. De Niro attended the Stella Adler Conservatory as well as Lee Strasberg's Actor's Studio, and used his membership there mostly as a professional advantage.