News National On this day: American actor Robert De Niro was born

On this day: American actor Robert De Niro was born

Actor Robert De Niro turned 77 on Monday. Photo: Getty
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Seventy seven years ago in New York City, two painters in love welcomed their first and only child.

The pair of artists had an inkling their son might follow in their creative footsteps.

Little did they know their boy would become one of the greatest actors of all time.

Known for his collaborations with director Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro has received several prestigious accolades throughout his 52-year acting career, including two Academy Awards.

Robert De Niro at the 92nd Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood, 2020. Photo: Getty

Born in Manhattan on this day in 1943, De Niro was a shy boy who found performing as a way to come out of his shell.

Fascinated by cinema, he dropped out of school at age 16 to pursue acting with the support of his parents, who by then had divorced.

His first major on-screen appearance was in Greetings (1968), when he was aged 25.

It wasn’t until the 1970s when De Niro’s acting career really began to take off.

That’s when he landed his first collaboration with Scorsese in Mean Streets (1973), as well as the role of young Vito Corleone in The Godfather Part II (1974), which won him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Robert De Niro as Vito Corleone in the 1974 film The Godfather: Part II. Photo: Getty

His portrayal of taxi driver Travis Bickle in Scorsese’s Taxi Driver (1976), gave birth to his famous “You talkin’ to me?” quote, which he improvised during filming.

The quote was chosen as the 10th most memorable quote in the AFI’s 100 Years … 100 Movie Quotes by the American Film Institute.

In preparation for the role, De Niro spent time with members of a US army base to learn their Midwestern accent, lost 13 kilograms, took firearms training and studied the behaviour of taxi drivers.

And it paid off.

Director Martin Scorsese as the ‘Silhouette Watching Passenger’, and Robert De Niro as Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver, 1976. Photo: Getty

His role in Taxi Driver, as well as a solder in the Vietnam War drama The Deer Hunter (1978), both earned him an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

In 1980, De Niro’s portrayal of Jake LaMotta in Scorsese’s biographical drama Raging Bull won him a second Academy Award for Best Actor.

To this day, the actor is revered for his dedication to his characters, with a number of his films becoming classics of American cinema.