Is Robert De Niro Italian or Irish? What Ethnicity is Robert De Niro?

Multi-award-winning actor Robert De Niro is one of the most legendary actors in Hollywood. He has been involved in numerous iconic movies and shows such as The Irishman, The Godfather, Taxi Driver, and Good Fellas.

Indeed, Robert has the Midas touch. He turns every project into something invaluable and unforgettable. An actor like him sets the standard of what acting should be in the business.

Is Robert De Niro Italian or Irish?  A close look at his Ethnicity.
Robert De Niro by Josh Jensen licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

With that said, people often scramble to know every single detail about the guy. In this case, we’ll be learning all about Robert De Niro’s ethnic heritage. Stick around to find out if he’s Italian or Irish!

Robert De Niro’s Ethnic Background

Robert Anthony De Niro Jr. was born on August 17, 1943, to parents Virginia and Robert De Niro Sr., both of whom were painters.

As such, it may come as no surprise to many of you to learn that Robert is actually of Italian descent. That may be the reason why he likes portraying Italian gangsters. 

Unfortunately, that’s also the reason why some Italians dislike Robert. According to these people, Robert reinforces harmful stereotypes about Italian people; that is, Italians are all members of the mafia.

This agenda even prompted The Order of the Sons in Italy in America (OSIA)

to request the Prime Minister of Italy to cancel the awarding of honorary citizenship to the actor. They wrote:

He has done nothing to promote Italian culture in the United States. Instead, the Osia and its members hold him and his movies responsible for considerably damaging the collective reputations of both Italians and Italian-Americans.”

Everything about Robert De Niro’s Ethnic Background.
Robert De Niro by Olivier Strecker licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Despite their plea, the Italian government pushed through and granted the actor honorary citizenship in 2004. However, unbeknownst to many people, Robert’s Italian heritage isn’t even that significant.

In fact, he’s only ¼ Italian. Robert actually has more Irish heritage than any of his ethnic parts. Both his dad and his mom had Irish ancestors.

Still, Robert claims that he associates himself more with his Italian side. Aside from his Irish and Italian ancestry, Robert also has the following ethnic heritage:

  • German
  • Dutch
  • English
  • French
  • Scottish
  • Scots-Irish/Northern Irish

The Bottomline About Robert De Niro’s Ethnic Identity

It’s normal for people with mixed ethnicities to favor one side over the other. In Robert De Niro’s case, he made it perfectly clear that he prefers to identify himself as an American-Italian even though he’s primarily of Irish descent.

The Bottomline About Robert De Niro’s Ethnic Identity.
Robert De Niro by David Shankbone  licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

Of course, that doesn’t make him any less Irish, nor does it mean that he renounces his Irish background. It’s just that the actor connects with the Italian culture more than he does with the Irish culture – and honestly, there’s nothing wrong with that. 

However, the reaction of the Italian community to Robert’s affiliation with them is a different story. Some are happy, some are not. Nevertheless, no one can take away the fact that Robert De Niro is both Italian and Irish.

So, now you know everything there is to know about Robert De Niro’s ethnic background! Do you find his Italian-mafia-boss characters offensive or not? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

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