Robert DeNiro is one of Hollywood’s most famous and best actors. The “Raging Bull” star has been nominated for eight Academy Awards, bringing home two, and has turned in some of the most iconic performances in film history. Whether he is playing an aging boxer, a mafia bag man, or doing a comedic turn with Ben Stiller as he did in the “Meet the Fockers” movies, DeNiro always manages to leave an impression.
He has also left an impression as a parent, or at least as a producer of children. DeNiro has seven children and numerous grandchildren, but perhaps his biggest accomplishment is becoming a father as an octogenarian. The 80-year-old DeNiro recently welcomed a daughter with girlfriend Tiffany Chen.
The “Goodfellas” actor met Chen on the set of his 2015 film “The Intern.” DeNiro was married to his second wife, Grace Hightower, at the time whom he shares two other children. In a recent interview, he described how different being a father is at his advanced age.
The legendary actor, who welcomed a daughter in April, says parenting at his age is “going ok,” but he concedes that “it doesn’t get any easier.” He talked about parenting: “It is what it is. It’s OK. I mean, I don’t do the heavy lifting. I’m there, I support my girlfriend. But she does the work. And we have help, which is so important.”
Indeed, at 80 years of age, DeNiro shouldn’t be doing any heavy lifting, neither physically or metaphorically. Complicating issues is the diagnosis shortly after the child’s birth that the mother, Chen, has Bell’s Palsy. She first noticed symptoms shortly after the child came home.
Chen, who is a kickboxer and martial arts instructor, is extremely fit, so she knew something was wrong. She said: “I started to feel like, my tongue felt strange. It felt like a little tingly, just starting to get a little bit numb, and then I realized my face — my face just felt weird. I didn’t know what the feeling was that I was having.”
She noticed that she was having trouble putting food in her mouth and was slurring her words. Chen was rushed to the hospital, where her condition immediately worsened. Chen continued: “I was trying to eat, I went to put just a fork of food in my mouth, and everything came out. I couldn’t eat, and then I was starting to slur. So I said, ‘There’s something really going on here.’ I lost all facial function the minute I got into the hospital.”
Despite the scary diagnosis, DeNiro concedes he can only do so much at his age. The actor has six other children with his two ex-wives, ranging in age from 52 to 11. Considering the wide age range, the Meet the Fockers actors has adapted his parenting style to adapt to his age. He continued: “With a baby it’s different to my 11-year-old. My adult children. My grandchildren. It’s all different.”
It is a nod to DeNiro that he is cognizant enough of his children to treat them differently based on their age and the time we live in. Considering he grew up in Depression-era America, he has adapted his style to match the new millennium.
He concluded: “I don’t talk to the adult children the way I talk to my baby… or the way I speak to my 11-year-old, though she’s pretty smart. You never know what’s going to happen. They surprise you.”
It is getting more common to have kids late in life, albeit, in DeNiro’s case, it’s “later” in life. He joined his buddy Al Pacino, who also fathered a child recently in his 80s. Though the child will undoubtedly grow up without a father, DeNiro is at least trying to do all he can to be a dad at a grandfather’s age.
By Georges Biard, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=49203461
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