When we hear the name, Robert De Niro, we often think of the acting legend and the memorable roles he has played throughout his career. However, there’s a lot more to his story, including the life of his estranged wife, Grace Hightower. Let’s dive into some lesser-known facts about this intriguing woman and her fascinating journey.
From Humble Beginnings to World Traveler
Prior to becoming an actress and philanthropist, Grace Hightower’s life started in the small town of Kilmichael, Mississippi, where she was born into poverty. With ten siblings to help support, she learned the value of hard work early on. Grace took on various jobs, proving her tenacity and adaptability. Eventually, she spread her wings and became a flight attendant for Trans World Airlines. This opportunity allowed her to travel the world, even settling in Paris for a while to polish her French. Grace’s thirst for life later took her to London, where she held positions as a mutual fund trader and restaurant worker. Talk about a woman who knows how to hustle!
A Chance Encounter with Hollywood Royalty
While working at Mr. Chow’s restaurant in London, Grace had a serendipitous meeting with none other than Robert De Niro. Although she didn’t recognize the famed actor at first, De Niro was persistent and intrigued by her. Their initial annoyance with each other blossomed into a romance, and they eventually tied the knot on June 17, 1997. Grace was 32 at the time, while De Niro was 44. Sometimes, the best love stories start with a little friction.
A Marriage on the Rocks and a Turnaround
Marriage is never easy, especially when it involves two strong-willed individuals like Grace and Robert. In August 1999, De Niro filed for divorce, just over a year after their son Elliot was born. Friends of the couple cited De Niro’s lack of effort in the marriage as the cause of their split. The divorce battle escalated, with De Niro suing Hightower for custody of their son in 2001. However, true love has a way of prevailing, and the couple eventually reconciled, never finalizing the divorce.
A Renewed Commitment and Expanding Family
By 2004, Grace and Robert had dropped the divorce and decided to renew their vows in a small, intimate ceremony. Held at De Niro’s farm near the Catskill Mountains, the guest list included Hollywood royalty like Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, and Ben Stiller. The couple’s love and commitment to each other seemed stronger than ever. In 2011, they welcomed their second child, born via surrogate, further cementing their family bond.
The Final Chapter and a Legal Battle
Unfortunately, the fairy tale wasn’t meant to last. In November 2018, after 20 years of marriage, Grace and Robert separated. De Niro released a statement emphasizing the couple’s continued devotion to their children and requesting privacy during their transition. The couple is now engaged in a legal battle over their 2004 pre-nuptial agreement, with Grace claiming she is entitled to 50% of De Niro’s fortune, while De Niro’s attorney argues she is entitled to a $6 million apartment, $500,000 in cash, $1 million per year, and half the value of their home.
The life of Grace is a testament to the incredible resilience and determination of a woman who has faced many challenges. From her humble beginnings in Mississippi to her whirlwind romance with one of Hollywood’s greatest actors, her story serves as a reminder that life can take us on unexpected journeys. As we witness the unfolding drama of her separation from De Niro, it’s essential to remember that behind the headlines lies a multifaceted, inspiring woman who has navigated the world with courage and grace.