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River Phoenix


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1. River Jude Phoenix (August 23, 1970 – October 31, 1993) was an Academy Award- and Golden Globe-nominated American film actor. He was listed on John Willis’s Screen World, Vol. 38 as one of twelve “promising new actors of 1986”, and was hailed as highly talented by such critics as Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel. His career was cut short, however, when he died of an overdose of heroin and cocaine on Halloween morning at age 23. He was the older brother of actor Joaquin Phoenix.

River and his family were members of “The Children of God”, living in South America, where his father John was the sect’s Archbishop of Venezuela. In 1977, they moved to Los Angeles, and changed their last name to Phoenix. His parents encouraged all of their children to get into movies and, by age ten, River was acting professionally on TV. His film debut was in Explorers (1985), followed rapidly by Stand by Me (1986). His role as Danny Pope in Running on Empty (1988) earned him an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actor. His best role was probably Mike Waters, the narcoleptic street hustler in My Own Private Idaho (Gus Van Sant, 1991).

River was a dedicated animal-rights activist, strict vegetarian and a member of PETA.
He also was a talented musician; he played guitar, sang, and wrote songs for his band, Aleka’s Attic, which also included his sister Rain Phoenix. Although the band never released its own album, their song “Across the Way” can be found on PETA’s “Tame Yourself” album, used to fight animal abuse.


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