Who is Grace Hightower?
American actress, socialite and philanthropist Grace Hightower was born in Kilmichael, Mississippi USA, on 7 April 1955, meaning that Aries is her zodiac sign, and she’s of African-American descent.
She’s perhaps known best for being the wife of famous American actor, producer and director Robert De Niro, who’s regarded as one of the best actors of all time; Robert’s appeared in nearly 150 movies and TV series, and has starred in many critically acclaimed films, such as the 1976 crime drama “Taxi Driver”, the 1980 biographical sports drama “Raging Bull” and the 1991 crime thriller “Cape Fear”. He won a 1975 Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role, for his performance in “The Godfather Part II”, and a 1981 Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading Role, for “Raging Bull”.
Grace and Robert have been separated since 2018.
Education and early life
Grace was raised in poverty in Kilmichael alongside her three brothers and three sisters, by their mother Addie Lee Hightower and father Eugene Hightower, Sr; her parents’ past professions remain undisclosed.
She studied at a local high school in Kilmichael and simultaneously worked, wanting to help her family financially; Grace had little to no time for herself, and only had fun while playing sports with her peers at school, and appearing in school plays.
She matriculated in 1973, and then didn’t enroll at college.
Grace began working for Trans World Airlines as a flight attendant in her early 20s, and settled in Paris, France prior to moving to London, England; during her time there, she worked at a restaurant, and was also a mutual fund trader.
She worked at the London’s Chinese restaurant Mr. Chow in 1987, and in the same year met Robert De Niro; Grace then worked various jobs in the following 10 years, while it’s also believed that Robert helped her financially, even though they weren’t ‘officially’ dating.
Grace sang the 2008 song “Something’s Comin’ My Way”, which was written by Dan Manjovi and featured in the 2009 drama movie “Precious”.
Her 2010 gala 55th birthday party was covered by the magazine “Vogue”, and the same year saw her present American film director Lee Daniels with the Pratt Institute’s Creative Spirit Award.
Grace launched her charity organization Grace Hightower & Coffees of Rwanda in 2013, with the goal of marketing Rwandan products internationally. She’s today a board member of the International Women’s Coffee Alliance, Women’s Heart Health Advisory Council and New York Women’s Foundation; Grace has been presented with several awards for her charity work, including one by the American Cancer Society of New York City.
Grace has five acting credits. Her one and only TV series role was playing E. S. U. Woman in the 1994 episode “Zeppo Marks Brothers” of the popular crime mystery “NYPD Blue”, which starred Jimmy Smits and Dennis Franz, and was created by Steven Bochco. It follows a group of detectives working in the New York Police Department, the series aired from 1993 through 2005, and won 88 of the 291 awards for which it was nominated.
The year 1997 saw Grace make her debut film appearance, playing Cris in the action “Brotherhood”, and her following role came in 2009, when cast to portray Social Worker in the critically acclaimed drama “Precious”, directed by Lee Daniels, and which starred Paula Patton, Mo’Nique and Gabourey Sidibe. Set in 1987 New York City, the movie follows an illiterate, abused and overweight teenager who’s pregnant with her second child, and has been invited to attend an alternative school; it won 113 of its 216 award nominations, including two Oscar wins for Best Writing, Adapted Screenplay and Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role (Mo’Nique).
Grace played Yardley’s Girlfriend in the 2012 crime mystery “The Paperboy”, written and directed by Lee Daniels, and which starred Matthew McConaughey, Nicole Kidman and John Cusack. It follows a reporter who’s returned to his hometown in Florida to cover the case of a death row inmate, and the film won five of its 17 award nominations.
Grace’s only other role has been in the 2017 action “Unspoken: Diary of an Assassin”, which failed to attract any attention.
Marriage with Robert De Niro
Even though they met in 1987, Grace and Robert were only good friends until 1996, when they began dating; they exchanged vows in a private ceremony in 1997, and it’s widely believed that they married only because Grace had become pregnant, as she gave birth to their son Elliot De Niro on 18 March 1998. Robert has a son Raphael with his first wife Diahnne Abbott, while he also adopted Diahnne’s daughter Drena De Niro from her previous relationship; he also has twin sons Aaron and Julian with his former girlfriend Toukie Smith.
Robert filed for divorce in 1999 and sued Grace for custody over their son; they managed to reconcile, and in 2004 renewed their vows. They welcomed their second child Helen Grace De Niro, born via surrogacy in December 2011.
Grace and Robert separated in November 2018, but haven’t filed for divorce.
EXCLUSIVE: Robert De Niro and wife Grace Hightower split after over 20 years https://t.co/gNDCp5iy7Z pic.twitter.com/uGVui3MjaA
— Page Six (@PageSix) November 21, 2018
Interesting facts and hobbies
She’s a philanthropist and has volunteered with a number of charity organizations, while Grace mostly enjoys helping underprivileged children.
She and Robert travelled all around the world while they were still close, and Grace has vacationed in many Asian and European countries.
She’s a lover of animals, and cats are her favorites.
Grace is a fan of American singers Beyonce and Mariah Carey.
She likes summer the most, as she enjoys yachting, sun tanning and swimming in the ocean.
Some of Grace’s favorite actresses are Elizabeth Taylor, Nicole Kidman and Katharine Hepburn, and some of her favorite movies include “Cleopatra”, “National Velvet” and “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof”.
Height, eyes and wealth
Grace’s age is 68. She has brown eyes and hair, is 5ft 6ins (1.68m) tall and weighs around 155lbs (70kgs).
Grace’s net worth’s been estimated at over $20 million, as of May 2023, and her husband Robert’s at over $500 million.