New York City, ca. 1946 The two-time Oscar winner, now 70, honors his late father, a painter, in the HBO documentary Remembering the Artist: Robert De Niro Sr., premiering June 9. “I want my children to see what their grandfather did,” the actor tells PEOPLE.
New York City, 1944 De Niro’s parents, Victoria Admiral and Robert De Niro Sr., separated when he was 2, and his mom raised him. Years later he found out his father was gay. “My mother sort of intimated [it], but he would never say, ‘Son, I want you to know …’ That only happens in the movies. He was private.”
Montauk, N.Y., ca. 1950 When De Niro was a boy, his father often invited him to art shows. “I wouldn’t want to go,” he admits. “My kids are the same way sometimes. Even though you know the last thing they want to do is hang with their parents, it’s important to do family things because you’ll miss them, and you can’t get them back.”
Ca. 1990 De Niro (with his parents) keeps his dad’s downtown art studio for his kids and grandkids to visit. “I take them there from time to time,” he says. “As long I can hold on to it, I will. It was important to preserve the actual space.”
Roubaix, France, 2005 “He was a great artist, a real artist,” says the actor (in front of one of his father’s paintings at a French exhibit of his work). “Ever since he was a little kid. That to me is the most important thing.”