Harvey Keitel Once Lost Custody of Daughter Stella — a Look Back at the Grueling Legal Battle
"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.
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 & LORRAINE BRACCO
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.
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.
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.”
A BITTER CUSTODY BATTLE
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.
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.
By the end of the trial, the judge deemed that neither Olmos nor Stella was in danger anymore, and threw out Keitel's motion.
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.
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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