Behind Robert De Niro’s new endowment at the Harry Ransom Center

The Harry Ransom Center
When Robert De Niro donated his film archive to UT's research library + museum, it was the second-biggest donation in the center's history. | Larry D. Moore, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Godfather. Taxi Driver. The Irishman. Academy Award-winning actor Robert De Niro has been known by many names in his nearly six-decade careerand we might just have to add “honorary Longhorn” to that list.

UT’s Harry Ransom Center announced yesterday the creation of the De Niro Curator of Film, an endowment in the iconic film star’s name dedicated to supporting the center’s work to preserve film history

The center aims to raise $3 million for the endowment, and De Niro himself has made an undisclosed contribution toward that effort.

This isn’t the beginning of De Niro’s relationship with the research library + museum. In 2006, the actor donated the archive of his film career to the center. Appraised at a value of more than $5 million, at the time the donation was the center’s second-biggest film acquisition ever — and De Niro has been contributing additional materials ever since.

“I strongly believe in and support what the Harry Ransom Center does to open the creative process of filmmaking to students and the community,” De Niro said in a statement published yesterday.

Robert De Niro
“I strongly believe in and support what the Harry Ransom Center does,” De Niro said in a statement. | David Shankbone, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While the center’s De Niro collection isn’t currently on display, you can request to see some items for research purposes. It includes:

  • A leopard-print boxing robe worn in “Raging Bull”
  • One fake Italian passport used in the filming of “The Godfather, Part II”
  • More than 3,000 other costume items and props
  • Correspondence, including records from film legends Martin Scorsese and Elia Kazan
  • Dozens of boxes of other documents, including annotated scripts, notes, and books

You might also get the chance to see De Niro himself this fall, at the Harry Ransom Center’s 65th anniversary gala, also announced yesterday.

Titled “A Celebration of Film,” the event honors the impact of film archival history, and sponsorships + ticket sales will benefit the endowment

The gala will take place Fri., Sept. 24 at the AT&T Hotel and Conference Center. Tickets, which start at $2,500 a pair, are on sale here. 🎟️