Who is Diahnne Abbott?
Diahnne Abbott is an American actress and singer known for her roles in the films ‘Taxi Driver’, ‘The King of Comedy’, and ‘Crime Story’. She is the first wife of veteran actor and screen legend Robert De Niro. Little is known about her family. Born and raised in New York City, Abbott was a relatively unknown singer and actress prior to her marriage to De Niro. In 1976, she appeared alongside him in Martin Scorsese’s psychological thriller ‘Taxi Driver’. That year, she also starred in Alan Rudolph's directorial venture ‘Welcome to L.A.’. In the ensuing years, Abbott worked with Scorsese and De Niro twice more, in ‘New York, New York’ and ‘The King of Comedy’. She also appeared in several other films. She and De Niro divorced in 1988 and Abbott eventually withdrew from public life. In 2013, she made a rare appearance at the “The King of Comedy” Closing Night Screening Gala during the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival.
Abbott was born on January 1, 1945, in New York City, New York. Little is known about her family beyond the facts that her father is from Antigua and that the renowned singer, musician, composer, and producer Gregory Abbott is her cousin.
You May Like
Continue Reading Below
Marriage to Robert De Niro
Abbott had a daughter named Drena from a previous relationship when she met De Niro for the first time. A talented singer and actress, she was largely unknown in the entertainment industry prior to her relationship with De Niro. They began dating in the early 1970s.
As for De Niro, he was already an established actor. He had appeared in several movies and had won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for ‘Godfather II’, which has often been ranked among the best films of all time. He had worked with the likes of Brian De Palma, Scorsese, Roger Corman, and Francis Ford Coppola. Abbott and De Niro married sometime in 1976 and subsequently, De Niro adopted her daughter, Drena. Furthermore, they have a son together, whom they named Raphael (born 1976).
By the 1980s, De Niro had emerged as one of the most sought-after actors in Hollywood and his personal life was becoming increasingly wild. He was a regular at the local nightclubs and allegedly did drugs. Additionally, he was involved in a series of affairs despite being married to Abbott. During this period, his close circle of friends included Scorsese and comedian John Belushi. The latter passed away in 1982 due to drug overdose.
Abbott and De Niro lived out of a rented condo in Bel Air for a time. They had several pets and were often visited by their friends from the industry. According to the New York Times, when they left the condo, they were sued for $10,000 by their landlord for the damages caused by their pets.
They eventually divorced in 1988. De Niro has since married his second wife Grace Hightower. Abbott has four grandchildren, one through Drena and three through Raphael. Like her parents, Drena is an actress and has appeared in films, such as ‘Death of a Dynasty’ (2003), ‘The Lovebirds’ (2007), ‘New Year’s Eve’ (2011), ‘The Intern’ (2015), and ‘Joy’ (2015). Raphael started off his career in the entertainment industry as an actor in the 1984 film ‘Love Streams’ but later became a realtor. He has produced two films to date: ‘West 4th’ and ‘James Abbott is Gone’.
Diahnne Abbott made her screen debut in ‘Taxi Driver’ in 1976. This was De Niro’s second collaboration with Scorsese after the 1973 crime film ‘Mean Streets’. ‘Taxi Driver’ is a neo-noir psychological thriller that revolves around a lonely veteran named Travis Bickle (De Niro) who drives a taxi in the New York City and is plagued by chronic insomnia. The film masterfully documents his gradual descent into insanity as he conspires to assassinate a presidential candidate as well as the pimp of an underage prostitute he meets. Abbott portrayed a character credited as the concession girl in the film. That year, she also appeared in the musical drama ‘Welcome to L.A.’.
In the 1977 musical drama ‘New York, New York’, Abbott got the chance to display her singing skill as a Harlem club singer. This was the second time she worked with De Niro and Scorsese in a professional capacity. She would reunite with them for the 1983 satirical black comedy ‘The King of Comedy’. Cast as Rita Keane, she played one of the main characters for the first time in her career.
Abbott then worked in John Cassavetes’ film ‘Love Streams’ (1984), the semi-autobiographical film ‘Jo Jo Dancer, Your Life Is Calling’ (1986), and ‘Before Night Falls’ (2000). She also portrayed the protagonist Lea/Leah in the 2002 drama film ‘Soliloquy’ and its 2006 sequel ‘Lea’s Soliloquy’. Both films were directed by Jacques Zanetti, with whom she also worked in ‘James Abbott is Gone’ (2013) and ‘Day After Day’ (2017). As for her television career, she appeared in the recurring role of Sonia in NBC’s ‘Crime Story’ (1988).