The Life of River Phoenix

Without his older brother, Joaquin Phoenix may not have become the actor he is today. River Phoenix was a rising star who died at 23 — this is his story.

'The Vegan James Dean'

He was Joaquin Phoenix’s brother, role model and he was a rising star in Hollywood, he died at the age of 23, this is River Phoenix. River Phoenix or River Bottom, his real name, was born in 1970, in Oregon. At the age of 2, his family joined the cult The Family International and moved to Venezuela. He grew up with his three sisters and his brother, all younger than him: Rain, Liberty, Summer and Joaquin.

In 1977, his family left the cult, moved back to the United States and changed their last name to Phoenix. At 7, he decided to go vegan with his sisters and brother. As a child, his parents encouraged him to become an actor. At 16, he got noticed thanks to his role in "Stand by Me” and "Mosquito Coast" alongside Harrison Ford. Two years later, he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in “Running on Empty.” In 1989, he played the role of young Indiana in Steven Spielberg’s “Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.” At that time, he encouraged his brother Joaquin to work on his acting. With his sister, he also became involved in the Peta association against wearing fur.

At 21, he stole the show in Gus Van Sant's "My Own Private Idaho", playing the role of an outsider who prostitutes himself alongside Keanu Reeves. On the night of October 30 to 31, 1993, he died of an overdose in the arms of his brother in front of a nightclub in Los Angeles owned by Johnny Depp. Dubbed "The Vegan James Dean", he was a staunch defender of animal welfare and just as staunchly dedicated to what we now call sustainability, buying up chunks of rainforest to protect it from logging. River Phoenix was 23 years old.


11/22/2019 11:19 AM


  • Carole Q.
    3 days

  • Kerry O.
    4 days

  • Alicia L.
    5 days


  • Sunshine F.
    5 days

    I cannot imagine how hard it was for Joaquin Pheonix to hold his brother as he died. 😔

  • Ronnie P.
    01/09/2022 01:28

    I think he killed river because he was tired of living in his shadow so he drugged him and caused an over dose.

  • Izzy T.
    01/04/2022 19:51

    He will forever be my crush

  • Charles D.
    01/03/2022 09:22

    Absolutely sad!

  • David N.
    01/02/2022 23:27

    DRUGS 😡😡😡😡

  • James M.
    01/02/2022 07:16

    Another child actor who was a junkie

  • Nina C.
    01/02/2022 03:52

    I love River, to me, he was very close to being the next James Dean. So incredibly tragic..⚘

  • Julie R.
    01/02/2022 03:36

    I knew I didn’t want to want to message him. I’m thankful we have Doug! He is God-sent to us!

  • Rodazzi R.
    01/02/2022 02:03

    I didn’t know the brother was in stand by me

  • Dominic C.
    12/30/2021 21:47

    R.I.P 🤟

  • Kylie H.
    12/29/2021 14:37

    he was gorgeous

  • Dagmar R.
    12/26/2021 12:36


  • Shamonica F.
    12/26/2021 02:26

    God is wanting you to come to him!! He loves us. You don’t have to wonder who has your back or who loves you!! Pray this prayer and have God come into your life. Jesus, I believe you are the Son of God, that you died on the cross to rescue me from sin and death and to restore me to the Father. I choose now to turn from my sins, my self-centeredness, and every part of my life that does not please you. I choose you. I give myself to you. I receive your forgiveness and ask you to take your rightful place in my life as my Savior and Lord. Come reign in my heart, fill me with your love and your life, and help me to become a person who is truly loving—a person like you. Restore me, Jesus. Live in me. Love through me. Thank you, God. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

  • Frank M.
    12/25/2021 20:26

    "I won't eat meat, but pass the coke and morphine." -Joaquin Phoenix

  • Sheldon S.
    12/24/2021 18:55


  • Irma G.
    12/22/2021 19:25

    What the hey. I thought he died in a car accident 😔

  • Larry S.
    12/22/2021 13:38

    The whole family had serious mental issues 🤤🤤🤤

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