River Jude Phoenix was an American actor,
musician and activist. He is the older brother of Rain Phoenix, Joaquin Phoenix, Summer Phoenix
and Liberty Phoenix. Phoenix’s work encompassed 24 films and television appearances, including
the science fiction adventure film Explorers, the coming-of-age film Stand by Me, the action
sequel Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and the independent adult drama My Own Private
Idaho. Phoenix’s meteoric rise to fame led to his status as a “teen sensation”.
Phoenix began acting at age 10 in television commercials. He appeared in diverse roles,
making his first notable appearance in the 1986 film Stand by Me, a hugely popular coming-of-age
film based on a novella by Stephen King. Phoenix made a transition into more adult-oriented
roles with Running on Empty, 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, 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 drug-induced heart failure on the
sidewalk outside the West Hollywood nightclub The Viper Room, at the age of 23. At the time
of his death, Phoenix had been in the middle of filming Dark Blood. Early life
Phoenix was born River Jude Bottom on August 23, 1970, in Metolius, Oregon, the first child
of Arlyn Sharon 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”. 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, who has English, as well as German and French, ancestry. In
1968, Phoenix’s mother left her family in New York City and travelled across the United
States, meeting John Lee Bottom while hitchhiking in northern California. They married on September
13, 1969, less than a year after meeting. While living in Crockett, Texas, their second
child, Rain Joan of Arc Bottom, was born on November 21, 1972. In 1973, the family joined
a controversial Christian new religious movement called the Children of God as missionaries.
Their third child, Joaquin Rafael Bottom, was born on October 28, 1974, in San Juan,
Puerto Rico. The family had settled in Caracas, Venezuela,
where the Children of God had stationed them to work as missionaries and fruit gatherers.
Although John Bottom was later designated the group’s “Archbishop of Venezuela and the
Caribbean”, their family received no financial support and lived in poverty. Phoenix reflected
later in life that the missionary work was undertaken “not out of choice, but was more
like a desperate situation”. On July 5, 1976, Phoenix’s sister Libertad Mariposa Bottom
was born. Phoenix often played guitar while he and Rain sang on street corners for money
and food to support their ever-growing family. Arlyn and John eventually grew disillusioned
with the Children of God; Arlyn would later tell a journalist that she and her husband
were opposed to the group’s practice of ‘Flirty Fishing’, stating: “The group was being distorted
by the leader, David Berg, who was getting powerful and wealthy. He sought to attract
rich disciples through sex. No way.” Fearing the group was moving in a negative direction,
the Bottom family left and stayed for a period with a church in Venezuela. It was during
the last years in South America that the entire Phoenix family converted to veganism.
The family eventually made the trip back to the United States by a cargo ship. Upon their
return, they moved in with Phoenix’s maternal grandparents in Florida. On December 10, 1978,
Summer Joy Bottom was born in Winter Park, Florida. On April 2, 1979, the family officially
changed their name to Phoenix, after the mythical bird that rises from its own ashes, symbolizing
a new beginning. Phoenix never attended formal school. Screenwriter
Naomi Foner later recalled being stunned by what Phoenix didn’t know. “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.”
Acting career Back in the United States, Arlyn began working
as a secretary for an NBC broadcaster and John as an exteriors architect. Top kids agent
Iris Burton spotted River, Joaquin and their sisters Summer and Rain singing for spare
change in Westwood, Los Angeles and was so charmed by the family that she soon represented
the four siblings. River started doing some commercials for Mitsubishi,
Ocean Spray and Saks Fifth Avenue, and soon afterward he and the other children were signed
by casting director Penny Marshall from Paramount Pictures. River and Rain were assigned immediately
to a show called Real Kids as warm up performers for the audience. In 1980, Phoenix began to
fully pursue his work as an actor, making his first appearance on a TV show called Fantasy
singing with his sister Rain. In 1982, River was cast in the short-lived CBS television
series, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, in which he starred as the youngest brother,
Guthrie McFadden. River, who arrived at the auditions with his guitar, promptly burst
into a convincing Elvis Presley impersonation, charming the show producer. By this age, Phoenix
was also an accomplished tap dancer. Almost a year after Seven Brides ended in
1983, Phoenix found a new role in the 1984 television movie Celebrity, where he played
the part of young Jeffie Crawford. Although he was only onscreen for about ten minutes,
his character was central. Less than a month after Celebrity came the ABC Afterschool Special:
Backwards: The Riddle of Dyslexia. River starred as a young boy who discovers he has dyslexia.
Joaquin starred in a small role alongside his brother. In September, the pilot episode
of the short-lived TV series It’s Your Move aired. Phoenix was cast as Brian and only
had one line of dialogue. He also starred as Robert Kennedy’s son, Robert Kennedy, Jr.
in the TV movie Robert Kennedy and His Times. After his role in Dyslexia was critically
acclaimed, Phoenix was almost immediately cast as a major role in his next made-for-TV
movie, Surviving: A Family in Crisis. He starred as Philip Brogan alongside Molly Ringwald
and Heather O’Rourke. Halfway during the filming of Surviving, Iris Burton contacted him about
a possible role in the film Explorers. In October 1984, Phoenix secured the role
of geeky boy-scientist Wolfgang Müller in Joe Dante’s large-budget science-fiction film
Explorers alongside Ethan Hawke, and production began soon after. Released in the summer of
1985, this was Phoenix’s first major motion picture role. In October 1986, Phoenix co-starred
alongside Tuesday Weld and Geraldine Fitzgerald in the acclaimed CBS television movie Circle
of Violence: A Family Drama, which told the tragic story of domestic elder abuse. This
was Phoenix’s last television role before achieving film stardom.
At the age of 15, Phoenix had a significant role in Rob Reiner’s popular coming-of-age
film Stand By Me, which made him a household name. The Washington Post opined that Phoenix
gave the film its “centre of gravity”. Phoenix commented: “The truth is, I identified so
much with the role of Chris Chambers that if I hadn’t had my family to go back to after
the shoot, I’d have probably had to see a psychiatrist.”
Later that year, Phoenix completed Peter Weir’s The Mosquito Coast, playing the son of Harrison
Ford’s character. “He was obviously going to be a movie star,” observed Weir. “It’s
something apart from acting ability. Laurence Olivier never had what River had.” During
the five-month shoot in Belize, Phoenix began a romance with his co-star Martha Plimpton,
a relationship which continued in some form for many years. Phoenix was surprised by the
poor reception for the film, feeling more secure about his work in it than he had in
Stand By Me. Phoenix was next cast as the lead in the teen
comedy-drama A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon, but was disappointed with his performance:
“It didn’t turn out the way I thought it would, and I put the blame on myself. I wanted to
do a comedy, and it was definitely a stretch, but I’m not sure I was even the right person
for the role.” In 1988, Phoenix starred in Little Nikita alongside Sidney Poitier. During
this time, the Phoenix family continued to move on a regular basis, and had moved over
forty times by the time Phoenix was 18. After completing his sixth feature film, Sidney
Lumet’s Running on Empty, Phoenix purchased his family a ranch in Micanopy, Florida, near
Gainesville in 1987, in addition to a spread in Costa Rica.
In early 1989, Phoenix was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and
received the Best Supporting Actor honor from the National Board of Review for his role
in Running on Empty. Phoenix jumped to his feet during the ceremony when Kevin Kline
beat him for the Oscar. “I had to stop River from running to hug Kevin,” recalled his mother
Arlyn. “It never crossed his mind that he hadn’t won.” That year he also portrayed a
young Indiana Jones in the box-office hit Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade directed
by Steven Spielberg. In 1990, Phoenix was photographed by Bruce Weber for Vogue and
was spokesperson for a campaign for Gap. In 1991, Phoenix filmed an acclaimed independent
picture called Dogfight co-starring Lili Taylor and directed by Nancy Savoca. In the romantic
coming-of-age drama set in San Francisco, Phoenix portrayed a young U.S. Marine on the
night before he was shipped off to Vietnam in November 1963. Taylor remarked that Phoenix
suffered not being able to distance himself from his character: “He also hadn’t gotten
into any [drugs] – he was just drinking then, too. It was different… That was actually
a hard part for him, because it was so radically different from who he was. He was such a hippie,
and here he was playing this marine. It actually caused him a lot of discomfort. I don’t think
he enjoyed that, actually, getting into that psyche.”
Phoenix met actor Keanu Reeves while Reeves was filming Parenthood with Phoenix’s brother,
Joaquin. The two starred together for the first time in 1990’s I Love You to Death and
again in Gus Van Sant’s avant-garde film My Own Private Idaho. In his review for Newsweek,
David Ansen praised Phoenix’s performance: “The campfire scene in which Mike awkwardly
declares his unrequited love for Scott is a marvel of delicacy. In this, and every scene,
Phoenix immerses himself so deeply inside his character you almost forget you’ve seen
him before: it’s a stunningly sensitive performance, poignant and comic at once”. For his role
in My Own Private Idaho, Phoenix won Best Actor honors at the Venice Film Festival,
the National Society of Film Critics and the Independent Spirit Awards. The film and its
success solidified Phoenix’s image as an actor with edgy, leading man potential. In that
period Phoenix was beginning to make use of drugs like marijuana, cocaine and heroin with
some friends. In the book Gus Van Sant wrote about Phoenix, “Pink”, the director said clearly
that Phoenix was not a regular drug user but only occasionally, and that the actor had
a more serious problem with alcohol. Phoenix had always tried to hide his addictions because
he feared that they might ruin his career as they did his relationship with Martha Plimpton.
Phoenix teamed up with Robert Redford and again with Sidney Poitier for the conspiracy/espionage
thriller Sneakers. A month later he began production on Sam Shepard’s art-house ghost
western Silent Tongue; he also was beaten out for the role of Paul by Brad Pitt in A
River Runs Through It. He made a cameo appearance in Van Sant’s Even Cowgirls get the Blues
co-starring his sister Rain. Phoenix then starred in Peter Bogdanovich’s country music-themed
film, The Thing Called Love, the last completed picture before his death, Phoenix began a
relationship with co-star Samantha Mathis on the set.
Music Although Phoenix’s movie career was generating
most of the income for his family, it has been stated by close friends and relatives
that his true passion was music. Phoenix was a singer, songwriter, and an accomplished
guitarist. He had begun teaching himself guitar at the age of five and had stated in an interview
for E! in 1988 that his family’s move to Los Angeles when he was nine was made so that
he and his sister “… could become recording artists. I fell into commercials for financial
reasons and acting became an attractive concept …” Prior to securing an acting agent, Phoenix
and his siblings tried to forge a career in music by playing cover versions on the streets
of the Westwood district of LA, often being moved along by police because gathering crowds
would obstruct the pavement. With the first fruits of his film success, Phoenix saved
$650 for his prize possession, a guitar on which he wrote what he described as “progressive,
ethereal folk-rock”. While working on A Night in the Life of Jimmy
Reardon in 1986, Phoenix had written and recorded a song, “Heart to Get”, specifically for the
end credits of the movie. 20th Century Fox cut it from the completed film, but director
William Richert put it back into place for his director’s cut some years later. It was
during filming that Phoenix met Chris Blackwell of Island Records, this meeting would later
secure Phoenix a two-year development deal with the label. Phoenix disliked the idea
of being a solo artist and relished collaboration; therefore he focused on putting together a
band. Aleka’s Attic were formed in 1987 and the line up included his sister Rain.
Phoenix was committed to gaining credibility by his own merit and maintained that the band
would not use his name when securing performances that were not benefits for charitable organizations.
Phoenix’s first release was “Across the Way”, co-written with band mate Josh McKay, which
was released in 1989 on a benefit album for PETA titled Tame Yourself. In 1991, Phoenix
wrote and recorded a spoken word piece called “Curi Curi” for Milton Nascimento’s album
TXAI. Also in 1991 the Aleka’s Attic track “Too Many Colors” was lent to the soundtrack
of Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho which included Phoenix in a starring role. In 1996,
the Aleka’s Attic track “Note to a Friend” was released on the 1996 benefit album In
Defense of Animals; Volume II and featured Flea of Red Hot Chili Peppers on bass.
Phoenix had collaborated with friend John Frusciante after his first departure from
Red Hot Chili Peppers and the songs “Height Down” and “Well I’ve Been” were released on
Frusciante’s second solo album Smile from the Streets You Hold in 1997.
Phoenix was an investor in the original House of Blues in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which
opened its doors to the public after serving a group of homeless people on Thanksgiving
Day 1992. Activism
Phoenix was a dedicated animal rights, environmental and political activist. He was a prominent
spokesperson for PETA and won their Humanitarian Award in 1992 for his fund-raising efforts.
In 1990, Phoenix wrote an environmental awareness essay about Earth Day targeted at his young
fanbase, which was printed in Seventeen magazine. Phoenix was a lifelong vegan. His first girlfriend
Martha Plimpton recalled: “Once when we were fifteen, River and I went out for a fancy
dinner in Manhattan, and I ordered soft-shell crabs. He left the restaurant and walked around
on Park Avenue, crying. I went out and he said, ‘I love you so much, why?…’ He had
such pain that I was eating an animal, that he hadn’t impressed on me what was right.”
He financially aided a great many environmental and humanitarian organizations, and bought
800 acres of endangered rainforest in Costa Rica. As well as giving speeches at rallies
for various groups, Phoenix and his band often played environmental benefits for well-known
charities as well as local ones in the Gainesville, Florida area.
Death On the evening of October 30, 1993, Phoenix
was to perform with his close friend Michael “Flea” Balzary from the Red Hot Chili Peppers
onstage 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 film that was finally completed
in 2012. His younger sister Rain and brother Joaquin had flown out to join him at the Hotel
Nikko on La Cienega Boulevard. Phoenix’s girlfriend, Samantha Mathis, had also come to meet him.
All were present at the scene of Phoenix’s death.
During the early morning hours of October 31, 1993, Phoenix 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.
During the episode, Johnny Depp and his band P were onstage. According to Haynes, the band
was in the middle of 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. Prior to 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.
Phoenix’s autopsy, signed November 15, 1993, reads as follows in the section entitled “Opinion”
by Christopher Rogers, MD: “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. Joaquin’s call to 911
was recorded and broadcast by several radio and TV shows. Following the death of River
and the invasive, disrespectful attitude of the media in his private life, Joaquin walked
away from Hollywood for the second time. 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: Phoenix was cremated and his ashes were scattered
at his family ranch in Micanopy, Florida. Following his death, Aleka’s Attic disbanded.
Unreleased film projects River’s sudden death prevented him from playing
various roles for which he had already been cast:
Phoenix was due to begin work on Neil Jordan’s Interview with the Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles
two weeks after his death. He was to play Daniel Molloy, the interviewer, which then
went to Christian Slater, who donated his entire $250,000 salary to two of Phoenix’s
favorite charitable organizations: Earth Save and Earth Trust. The film has a dedication
to Phoenix after the end credits. The Guardian suggested in 2003 “it was likely
that Phoenix would have followed [Interview with the Vampire] by appearing as Susan Sarandon’s
son in Safe Passage”, a role that went to Sean Astin.
Phoenix had signed onto the lead role in Broken Dreams, a screenplay written by John Boorman
and Neil Jordan, and co-starring Winona Ryder. The film was put on hold due to Phoenix’s
death. In June 2012, it was announced that Caleb Landry Jones had been cast in the role.
Gus Van Sant had gotten Phoenix to agree to play the role of Cleve Jones in Milk when
he was originally planning on making the movie in the early 1990s. The role was eventually
played by Emile Hirsch in 2008. When asked in Interview magazine, “You were going to
do a movie with River about Andy Warhol, right?” Van Sant said, “Yeah. River kind of looked
like Andy in his younger days. But that project never really went forward.”
In 1988, Phoenix was reportedly carrying around a copy of the 1978 memoir The Basketball Diaries.
He had heard a movie version was in the works and wanted to play the autobiographical role
of Jim Carroll. The film was sent into hiatus on numerous occasions with Phoenix being cited
as the main contender for the role each time. The Basketball Diaries was made in 1994 with
Leonardo DiCaprio in the lead. He had expressed interest in playing the 19th-century
poet Arthur Rimbaud in Total Eclipse by Polish director Agnieszka Holland. Phoenix died before
the movie was cast, with the role eventually going to Leonardo DiCaprio.
References in popular culture Phoenix’s status as a teen idol and promising
young actor, and his subsequent premature death, made him a frequent subject in popular
culture media. He first gained references in music with Brazilian singer Milton Nascimento
writing the song “River Phoenix: Letter to a Young Actor” about him after having seen
Phoenix in The Mosquito Coast. The song appears on the 1989 release Miltons. Phoenix’s friends,
the Red Hot Chili Peppers, wrote a few lines for him in the song “Give It Away” from the
1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik: “There’s a River born to be a giver, keep you warm
won’t let you shiver, his heart is never gonna wither…”
Phoenix has been the subject of numerous tributes in song and other media. The band R.E.M. dedicated
their album Monster to Phoenix, and their song “E-Bow the Letter” from 1996’s New Adventures
in Hi-Fi is said to have been written from a letter Michael Stipe wrote to Phoenix but
never sent because of the actor’s death. River Phoenix is referenced in the song: Sacred
Life, from the eponymous album by the British band, The Cult: “River Phoenix was so young,
Don’t you know your prince has gone?” Ex-10000 Maniacs singer Natalie Merchant wrote
and recorded a memorably controversial song, simply named “River”, featured on her 1995
solo album “Tigerlily”. While she deplores this tragic death of a “Young & strong Hollywood
son” who was “one of ours”, she criticizes strongly the excesses of the people’s “vulture’s
candor” and the media’s greedy attention to the event and adds: “Why don’t you let him
be… /Give his father & his mother peace”, as well as: “It’s only a tragedy”, ending
with the real question behind it: “How could we save him / From himself ?”. Thus she went
far beyond the straight eulogy that most songs and writings about River Phoenix’s passing
were at the time it happened. Musician Sam Phillips has the dedication “For
River” on her album Martinis & Bikinis. Again, Red Hot Chili Peppers, paid tribute with the
song “Transcending” on 1995’s One Hot Minute being written about him. Other songs inspired
by Phoenix include Dana Lyons’ “Song For River Phoenix”, Grant Lee Buffalo’s “Halloween”,×
Ellis Paul’s song “River”, found on his 1994 release Stories, Rufus Wainwright’s “Matinee
Idol”, Nada Surf’s “River Phoenix” and Stereophonics’s “Chris Chambers”.
In her 1996 album Woman & a Man, Belinda Carlisle referenced River in the song “California”.
The song opens and closes with the line “I remember I was in a tanning salon, when I
heard that River Phoenix was gone.” In Jay-Z’s album, Kingdom Come, the lyrics of “Hollywood”
list him as one of the many fatalities of the pressures of Hollywood. New York band
Japanther featured a song on their album Skuffed Up My Huffy entitled “River Phoenix”, which
is about certain events in his life and delivers the chorus “River Phoenix didn’t mean it”.
In the song “The Viper Room”, Wesley Willis takes an abrupt turn from an otherwise glowing
account of the club by noting Phoenix’s death, stating that he “…collapsed and died like
a Doberman.” On his 2013 album Not Thinking Straight, British recording artist Matt Fishel
referenced Phoenix in the song “When Boy Meets Boy”. Its lyrics portray a bedroom in which
the walls are “covered in posters of idols and rock stars who had died too young” and
the song’s third verse contains the line “I paid tribute with a little wink to River Phoenix
hanging on the wall”. In the song’s accompanying music video, an animated poster of Phoenix
hangs on a wall next to Jimi Hendrix, Freddie Mercury and Kurt Cobain.
Gus Van Sant, with whom Phoenix worked in the film My Own Private Idaho, dedicated his
1994 movie Even Cowgirls Get the Blues as well as his 1997 novel Pink to him. Experimental
Santa Cruz filmmaker Cam Archer also produced a documentary called Drowning River Phoenix
as part of his American Fame series. During performances on November 13 and November 15,
1993, and February 12, 1994, and one of Nirvana’s last USA shows in Seattle on January 7, 1994,
Kurt Cobain of Nirvana dedicated the song “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam” to Phoenix,
just a few months before Cobain’s death. Tom Petty dedicated “Ballad of Easy Rider” to
Phoenix when he played in his and Phoenix’s hometown of Gainesville, Florida in November
1993. The British band Manic Street Preachers mentions
River in their song “Ifwhiteamericatoldthetruthforonedayitsworldwouldfallapart” in the following line: “…I’m thinking right
now of Hollywood tragedy; Big Mac; smack; Phoenix, R; please smile y’all…” Phoenix
was the subject of a controversial song by Australian group TISM titled “(He’ll Never
Be An) Ol’ Man River” the single originally featured a mock-up of Phoenix’s tombstone
as its cover art in 1995. The chorus features the line, “I’m on the drug that killed River
Phoenix.” On the song “Love Me, Hate Me” by rapper Ja Rule, he numerates different ways
he could die as a celebrity, and one of the lyrics says “I might OD in a club off drugs
like River Phoenix”. In the 1997 musical, The Fix, Phoenix is alluded to in the song
“Mistress of Deception” in the lines, “Hot young actor died last night at an L.A. club/Ecstasy
and booze/And too much NyQuil/Had the sweetest face/Warm and shy and innocent/Sexy in that
careless kinda way/The newsman said his heart just stopped like that…” The Hugh Cornwell
song “Rain on the River” from his 2009 album Hooverdam is directly about the death of Phoenix,
as his sister Rain sits over her dying brother on the sidewalk outside The Viper Room.
A lesser known reference to River Phoenix was Final Fantasy VIII’s main protagonist
Squall Leonhart. Tetsuya Nomura, the lead character designer for the game, stated he
modeled Squall on River’s visage during development, and even gave Squall the same birthdate.
The scene of Phoenix’s death also merits several mentions in William Gibson’s book Spook Country.
John Frusciante dedicated the song “Smile From The Streets You Hold” to River Phoenix.
As a matter of fact, Frusciante wrote the first part of the song about their friendship
while Phoenix was still alive, and after Phoenix’s passing he wrote the second part for his memory.
Honors and rankings Phoenix has been ranked numerous times on
a number of lists recognising his talent and career. He was listed as one of twelve “Promising
New Actors of 1986” in “John Willis’ Screen World”. Phoenix was voted at No. 64 on a “Greatest
Movie Stars of All Time” poll by channel 4 television in the UK. The poll was made up
wholly of votes from prominent figures of the acting and directing communities. He was
ranked No. 86 in Empire Magazine’s “The Top 100 Movie Stars of All Time” list in 1997.
His life and death has been the subject of an E! True Hollywood Story, an A&E Biography
and an episode of Final 24, which contains a dramatic reconstruction of his final hours
and death. He was also referred to as “This century’s James Dean” in episode 10 of the
first season of Being Erica. His death was listed as No. 16 in the top 101 events in
E! Television’s “101 Most Shocking Moments in Entertainment”. In 2010, Phoenix was voted
by GQ Magazine as one of the “50 Most Stylish Men of the Past Half Century”.
Television Further reading
Edwards, Gavin. Last Night at the Viper Room: River Phoenix and the Hollywood He Left Behind.
ISBN 0062273159. Glatt, John. Lost in Hollywood: The Fast Times
and Short Life of River Phoenix. ISBN 1-55611-440-0. Furek, Maxim W. The Death Proclamation of
Generation X: A Self-Fulfilling Prophesy of Goth, Grunge
and Heroin. ISBN 978-0-595-46319-0. Lawrence, Barry C. In Search of River Phoenix:
the Truth Behind the Myth. ISBN 0-9672491-9-8. Robb, Brian J. River Phoenix: a short life.
ISBN 0-06-095132-X. References External links
River Phoenix at the Internet Movie Database River Phoenix at AllMovie
The Lost Boy: The Legacy of River Phoenix River Phoenix at Find a Grave