Harvey Keitel Once Lost Custody of Daughter Stella — a Look Back at the Grueling Legal Battle

Aby Rivas
Jul 07, 2020
02:20 P.M.
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"Pulp Fiction" star Harvey Keitel has been in the entertainment industry for over five decades and is the proud father of three grown-up kids. However, his personal life was a nightmare in the '90s, when he was embroiled in a bitter custody fight over his first-born daughter, Stella.


Harvey Keitel started his career as a film actor in Martin Scorsese's first-ever movie. He didn't get any money from it, but that was the beginning of a long-lasting friendship with the now-acclaimed director.

Harvey Keitel at the 18th Marrakech International Film Festival -Day Three- on December 01, 2019 in Marrakech, Morocco | Photo: Getty Images


Keitel and Scorsese would collaborate in five more films, including "Mean Street," where he shared the screen with Robert De Niro for the first time. The second time would be on "Taxi Driver," which became one of the most iconic films of the late '70s.

Although Keitel's career dwindled in the early '80s, his personal life started to thrive when he met then-model and aspiring actress Lorraine Bracco, who would become a permanent fixture in his life and the source of a stressful time.

Harvey Keitel attends The Irishman International Premiere and Closing Gala during the 63rd BFI London Film Festival at the Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on October 13, 2019 in London, England. | Photo: Getty Images



Keitel and Bracco met in Paris in 1983. At the time, she was married to the father of her first child and was working her way up in the modeling world after signing a contract with Wilhelmina Models.

Keitel learned that Bracco’s side piece-turned-husband, Edward Olmos, had been accused of allegedly abusing a minor a year earlier.

Soon after her divorce, Bracco moved to New York to live with Keitel and started working on her acting career.

Harvey Keitel and Lorraine Bracco attend 48th Annual Golden Globe Awards on January 19, 1991 in Beverly Hills, California | Photo: Getty Images


In 1985, the couple welcomed daughter, Stella. Two years later, Bracco landed her first film role in "Someone Watch Over Me," directed by Ridley Scott, who had worked with Keitel a decade earlier in "The Duellists."

In 1990, Bracco had her big break as Karen Hill, the wife of a mobster, in Scorsese's "GoodFellas." Her role earned her an Academy Award nomination, and after that, life became busy for the actress.

Meanwhile, Keitel stayed behind, taking care of Stella and Margaux, Bracco's eldest daughter. Inevitably, egos came to the surface, and the relationship started to deteriorate.

Lorraine Bracco and Harvey Keitel during the 63rd Annual Academy Awards at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California, United States. | Photo: Getty Images


Bracco then met Edward James Olmos on the set of "Talent for the Game." They started an affair that would lead to the end of her relationship with Keitel after she confessed the indiscretion. Bracco told ABC's "20/20" about the rupture:

“He hated me for it. I disgusted him. That was the beginning of the end. And maybe it was my way, my very immature […] way to end that relationship.”

Lorraine Bracco and Stella Keitel attend HBO's GREY GARDENS Screening Dinner on April 11, 2009 in East Hampton, New York. | Photo: Getty Images



After almost 12 years together, Bracco and Keitel ended their love story on a bitter note in 1991, and initially, Keitel agreed to hand over Stella's custody to her mom.

However, in 1993, Keitel learned that Bracco's side piece-turned-husband, Edward Olmos, had been accused of allegedly abusing a minor a year earlier.

Olmos allegedly paid off the girl's family to buy their silence, and Bracco, although aware of the situation, asked Olmos not to tell Keitel to avoid discussions.

Lorraine Bracco and Edward James Olmos at the 47th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, September 1995 | Photo: Getty Images


That's when Keitel filed a motion asking for Stella's custody, claiming that the girl wasn't safe with Olmos around.

However, a judge awarded Stella's sole custody to Bracco in 1996, even though they ruled that Olmos shouldn't be allowed alone with the then 12-year-old girl and asked that he go through counseling.

But Keitel wasn't done fighting, so he appealed the decision, this time bringing up another aspect of Stella's safety to the table.

Keitel's argument was based on a series of threats Olmos had received years earlier from the Mexican Mafia, an organized criminal organization, after making a film about their rise to power.


Lorraine Bracco arrives at Revlon's Annual Philanthropic Luncheon at Chateau Marmont on September 27, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. | Photo: Getty Images

By the end of the trial, the judge deemed that neither Olmos nor Stella was in danger anymore, and threw out Keitel's motion.


Both Bracco and Olmos accused Keitel of being a "lover bent on revenge," with Olmos telling the media back then that Keitel didn't even love Stella and was only using her to hurt him and Bracco.


Keitel eventually moved on. He welcomed a second child, a son named Hudson, with Lisa Karmazin in 2001.

That same year, he married actress Daphna Kastner, with whom he welcomed son Roman in 2004. Keitel and Kastner are still together.

Harvey Keitel with daughter Stella Keitel (L) and Daphna Kastner attend the Holy Rollers premiere at Landmark's Sunshine Cinema on May 10, 2010 in New York City. | Photo: Getty Images


Stella, now in her thirties, acted next to both of her parents when she was a child: with Keitel on "The Bad Lieutenant," and with Bracco in "GoodFellas." She also appeared on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," and in indie films like "Holy Rollers," and "Landing."

Stella is now a clinical psychologist, according to her Instagram account, where she promised to share mental health resources "very soon."


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