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River Phoenix Bio
River Jude Phoenix was an American actor, musician, and activist. River Phoenix was the older brother of Rain Phoenix, Joaquin Phoenix, Liberty Phoenix, and Summer Phoenix.River Phoenix
Phoenix’s work encompassed 24 films and television appearances, and his rise to fame led to his status as a “teen idol”. He began his acting career at age 10, in television commercials. He starred in the science fiction adventure film Explorers (1985) and had his first notable role in 1986’s Stand by Me, a coming-of-age film based on the novella The Body by Stephen King.
Phoenix made a transition into more adult-oriented roles with Running on Empty in 1988, playing the son of fugitive parents in a well-received performance that earned him a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and My Own Private Idaho in 1991, playing a gay hustler in search of his estranged mother.
For his performance in the latter, Phoenix garnered enormous praise and won a Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival, along with Best Actor from the National Society of Film Critics.
On October 31, 1993, Phoenix collapsed and died of combined drug intoxication following a drug overdose on the sidewalk outside the West Hollywood nightclub The Viper Room at the age of 23. At the time of his death, Phoenix was acting in Dark Blood, which was released in 2012.
River Phoenix Age
Phoenix was born on August 23, 1970, in Madras, Oregon, the first child of Arlyn Dunetz and John Lee Bottom. Phoenix’s parents named him after the river of life from the Hermann Hesse novel Siddhartha, and he received his middle name from the Beatles’ song Hey Jude.
Phoenix often played guitar while he and his sister sang on street corners for money and food to support their ever-growing family. Phoenix never attended formal school. Screenwriter Naomi Foner later commented, “He was totally, totally without education.
I mean, he could read and write, and he had an appetite for it, but he had no deep roots into any kind of sense of history or literature.”George Sluizer claimed Phoenix was dyslexic. At the time of his death, River Phoenix was 23 years old.
River Phoenix Parents
In an interview with People, Phoenix described his parents as “hippieish”. His mother was born in the Bronx, New York to Jewish parents whose families had emigrated from Russia and Hungary. His father was a lapsed Catholic from Fontana, California, of English, German, and French ancestry.
In 1968, Phoenix’s mother left her family in New York City and traveled across the United States. While hitchhiking in northern California she met John Lee Bottom. They married on September 13, 1969, less than a year after meeting.
Phoenix’s family moved cross country when he was very young. Phoenix was raised in Micanopy, Florida, a small suburb of Gainesville, where they lived in poverty. Phoenix has stated that they lived in a “desperate situation.”
River Phoenix Siblings
River Phoenix had five siblings; one Brother Joaquin Phoenix and four sisters Rain Phoenix, Summer Phoenix, Liberty Phoenix and Jodean Bottom
River Phoenix Movies
» Stand By Me
» M Own Private Idaho
» Dark Blood
» Running On Empty
» Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
» The Thing Called Love
» The Mosquito
» A Night in the Life of Jimmy
» Dog right
» I love You to Death
» Little Nikita
» Silent Tongue
» Circle of Violence: A Family Drama
» Backward: The Riddle of Dyslexia
» Surviving: A Family In Crisis
» Backward: The Riddle of Dyslexia
River Phoenix Stand By Me
After learning that a stranger has been accidentally killed near their rural homes, four Oregon boys decide to go see the body. On the way, Gordie Lachance as Wil Wheaton, Vern Tessio as Jerry O’Connell, Chris Chambers as River Phoenix and Teddy Duchamp as Corey Feldman. They encounter a mean junk man and a marsh full of leeches, as they also learn more about one another and their very different home lives. Just a lark at first, the boys’ adventure evolves into a defining event in their lives.
River Phoenix Death
On the evening of October 30, 1993, Phoenix was to perform with his close friend Flea from the Red Hot Chili Peppers on stage at The Viper Room, a Hollywood nightclub partly owned at the time by actor Johnny Depp. Phoenix had returned to Los Angeles early that week from Utah to complete the three weeks of interior shots left on his last project, Dark Blood,[a] a film that was finally completed in 2012.
His younger sister Rain and brother Joaquin joined him at the Hotel Nikko (now the SLS Hotel) on La Cienega Boulevard. Phoenix’s girlfriend Samantha Mathis also had come to meet him. All were present at the scene of Phoenix’s death.
During the early morning hours of October 31, Phoenix suffered a drug overdose, and collapsed outside and convulsed for over five minutes. When his brother Joaquin called 9-1-1, he was unable to determine whether Phoenix was breathing. His sister Rain proceeded to give him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
Samantha Mathis stated in 2018 that the two had originally only intended to drop off Phoenix’s siblings at the Viper Room on the way to her house, but Phoenix decided to stay for a while after he was asked to perform with the band.
She insisted that during their time dating she had known him to be sober, but “In the days before he died, though, I knew something was going on … I didn’t see anyone doing drugs [that night] but he was high in a way that made me feel uncomfortable.” She added that “the heroin that killed him didn’t happen until he was in the Viper Room.
I have my suspicions about what was going on, but I didn’t see anything.” Mathis went to the bathroom, and on her way back to the table saw Phoenix apparently engaged in a scuffle with another person. The bouncers hustled both out of the club, and Mathis shouted at the other man “What have you done? What are you on?”, only to be told, “Leave him alone, you’re spoiling his high.” By that point, Phoenix had fallen to the ground and begun to convulse.
During the episode, Johnny Depp and his band P (featuring Flea, Al Jourgensen of Ministry and Phoenix’s friend Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers) were onstage. According to Haynes, the band was performing their song “Michael Stipe” while Phoenix was outside the venue having seizures on the sidewalk.
When the news filtered through the club, Flea left the stage and rushed outside. By that time, paramedics had arrived on the scene and found Phoenix turning dark blue, in full cardiac arrest and in a flatline state. They administered medication in an attempt to restart his heart.
He was rushed to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, accompanied by Flea, via an ambulance. Further attempts to resuscitate Phoenix were unsuccessful. He was pronounced dead at 1:51 a.m. PST on the morning of October 31, 1993, at the age of 23.
The following day the club became a makeshift shrine with fans and mourners leaving flowers, pictures, and candles on the sidewalk and graffiti messages on the walls of the venue.
A sign was placed in the window that read, “With much respect and love to River and his family, The Viper Room is temporarily closed. Our heartfelt condolences to all his family, friends and loved ones. He will be missed.” The club remained closed for a week. Depp continued to close the club every year on October 31 until selling his share in 2004
Before his death, Phoenix’s image—one he bemoaned in interviews—had been squeaky-clean, owing in part to his public dedication to his various social, political, humanitarian, and dietary interests not always popular in the 1980s.
As a result, his death elicited a vast amount of coverage from the media. Phoenix was described by one writer as “the vegan James Dean,” and comparisons were made regarding the youth and sudden deaths of both actors.
The November 15, 1993 autopsy found that “Toxicology studies showed high concentrations of morphine and cocaine in the blood, as well as other substances in smaller concentrations.” The cause of death was “acute multiple drug intoxication”, including cocaine and morphine.
On November 24, 1993, Arlyn “Heart” Phoenix published an open letter in the Los Angeles Times on her son’s life and death. It read, in part:
His friends, co-workers and the rest of our family know that River was not a regular drug user. He lived at home in Florida with us and was almost never a part of the “club scene” in Los Angeles. He had just arrived in L.A. from the pristine beauty and quietness of Utah where he was filming for six weeks.
We feel that the excitement and energy of the Halloween nightclub and party scene were way beyond his usual experience and control. How many other beautiful young souls, who remain anonymous to us, have died by using drugs recreationally? It is my prayer that River’s leaving in this way will focus the attention of the world on how painfully the spirits of his generation are being worn down.
River made such a big impression during his life on Earth. He found his voice and found his place. And even River, who had the whole world at his fingertips to listen, felt deep frustration that no one heard.
What is it going to take? Chernobyl wasn’t enough. Exxon Valdez wasn’t enough. A bloody war over oil wasn’t enough. If River’s passing opens our global heart, then I say, thanks dear, beloved son, for yet another gift to all of us.
Phoenix was cremated and his ashes were scattered at his family ranch in Micanopy, Florida. Following his death, Aleka’s Attic disbanded.