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Robert de Niro Was Baptized a Roman Catholic behind the Backs of His Gay Dad & Atheist Mom

Oyin Balogun
May 28, 2022
03:40 A.M.
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Robert De Niro Jr has done some exciting things in his career, like driving a real cab for weeks to get into his character in "Taxi Driver." Still, the actor has more exciting details, including a secret baptism. Find out more.


American Actor, Producer, and Director Robert De Niro Jr is undoubtedly one of the most successful entertainers of his time, enjoying a career in Hollywood that has spanned decades.

Born in 1943, it is no surprise that the actor embodies so much talent because talented individuals surrounded him early. Robert Jr was born into a family of artists; his father, Robert De Niro Sr, and his mother, Virginia Admiral, were artists.

Robert De Niro poses with Francesca De Sapio in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather: Part II" movie | Source: Getty Images


More interestingly, not only was the actor born to gifted parents, but he also grew up in the same Greenwich Village neighborhood as the talented and renowned Martin Scorsese.

To date, Robert Jr and Scorsese share a great bond and have worked on many projects together. While many may believe that the former had a challenge-free childhood, seeing that he was surrounded by greatness, the opposite was true.

Picture of Robert DeNiro and Olmo Dalco in the 1976 movie "1900" | Source: Getty Images


Unfortunately, the "Taxi Driver" star never enjoyed living with both parents, as he was only a toddler when his father left his mother after realizing he was gay.

Thankfully, the circumstances Robert Jr grew up in never stopped him from chasing his dreams. Today, he is 78 and is a recipient of various accolades. Here are more surprising details about the actor's life.


Robert De Niro poses next to a portrait of his father Robert Sr in an exhibition of Robert De Niro Sr - paintings at La Piscine in Roubaix, France on June 18th, 2005 | Source: Getty Images


Robert Jr. loves to keep his personal life away from the public eye, and due to this, there are a lot of unknown details about his life, including his religious preferences.

However, many of the actor's fans know he was baptized a Roman Catholic as a child — a story that is entirely out of the ordinary.

Surprisingly, the producer's parents were not religious when he was baptized. Robert Jr's father had left the church when he was 12, while Admiral was raised a Presbyterian but had become an atheist.

Robert De Niro holds a press conference on his late father, Robert De Niro Senior, painting exhibition, on 18 June 2005 in "La piscine" museum in Roubaix, France | Source: Getty Images


However, the actor's grandparents were Christians, and Robert Jr spent some time with them, especially during his parents' divorce and custody battle. The Hollywood icon's grandparents secretly baptized him behind his parents' backs during that time.

Over the years, Robert Jr's supporters have wondered who his grandparents were, considering their uncommon act. Well, the actor's grandparents were Helen O'Reilly and Henry De Niro.

Robert De Niro at a screening of "The Irishman" in London on December 18, 2019 | Source: Getty Images


The former was utterly Irish, while her husband was a second-generation Italian World War I veteran. The late couple tied the knot when O'Reilly was only 21 years old and welcomed Robert Sr. in 1922. They tried to raise their son in church, but he left at a young age, similar to when Robert Jr left the church.

During a Tribeca Film Festival Talk with Brain Williams, the "Godfather: Part II'' star made it known that he was only 15 when he decided to stop going to church.

Robert De Niro at a Q&A session at a screening for Netflix's "The Irishman" on January 4, 2020 | Source: Getty Images


According to a source, who was present during the chat session, the actor recalled telling his grandmother that the church was not for him anymore.

Robert Jr said he respected religion, but if there was a God, he had a lot to explain. To date, many believe that the actor does not believe in God, just like his mother.


Robert De Niro at the 92nd Oscars Nominees Luncheon on January 27, 2020 | Source: Getty Images


Although Robert Jr's parents divorced when he was tender, he still enjoyed a close relationship with his father until the painter's demise in 1993.

During a 2018 interview with The Guardian, the "The Intern" star spoke candidly about his bond with his dad and the things he learned from him. First, Robert Jr explained that he had kept his father's studio intact the way he left it, despite wanting to close it initially.

Actor Robert De Niro attends the 'Once Upon A Time' Premiere during 65th Annual Cannes Film Festival during at Palais des Festivals on May 18, 2012 in Cannes, France | Source: Getty Images


According to the actor, he decided to keep the property after he and his family visited the studio following Robert Sr's demise. He further noted that it was essential to appreciate the things parents leave behind.

Regarding the things his father taught him, Robert Jr confessed that he learned the importance of letting his children know that they are loved. In his words:

"I learned a lot about being a father from my father. I knew he loved me. It was important for me to know that, so I know it's important for my kids to know it, too. I give my kids space, but we do spend a lot of time together."

Robert De Niro with his "Etoile d'Or" Award at the 17th Marrakech International Film Festival on December 1, 2018 | Source: Getty Images


Although Robert Jr and his dad were close, the former had one regret — not talking with his dad about his sexuality. According to the actor, his mom "did not want to talk about things in general," leaving him with little or no knowledge about sexuality.

Due to his regret, Robert Jr decided to communicate with his children constantly. The director also admitted that he is firm with his kids when needed, but he aims to be a great dad like his father.

Robert De Niro at the world premiere of "Mixtape" on April 7, 2022 | Source: Getty Images


According to the actor, Robert Sr was not a bad father. Instead, he was loving and adored his son. To the father of six, being named after his loving dad brings him pride. However, Robert Jr gets emotional whenever he remembers he is more famous than the person he was named after.

Still, the actor is keen on keeping his father's legacy alive. With help from his mom, who remained friends with her ex-husband after their divorce, Robert Jr created a documentary titled "Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro, Sr."

The documentary contained scenes of Robert Jr reading his father's journals and tearing up. The actor said Robert Sr "had many demons," one of which was his sexuality, and reading about it made him feel guilty.


One of the passages in the diary contained Robert Sr's words about praying until he was cured of his mental and emotional sickness.

Regarding his sexuality, the artist also wrote that if God did not want him to be gay, he would find him a woman he would love. After reading about his father's struggles, Robert Jr said he was sorry and sad. Nevertheless, despite his difficulties, he was proud of his dad for being a good father.