Actor. He is best remembered for his movie roles of young 'Indiana Jones' in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989), and as 'Chris Chambers' in "Stand by Me" (1986). Born River Jude Bottom in a log cabin in Oregon to an unconventional 1960s family, his father, John, was a part time carpenter and his mother, Arlyn, a secretary. John and Arlyn had met in 1968 in California where they had worked as itinerant fruit pickers. His parents named him River after the river of life in Hermann Hesse's novel, "Siddhartha" and Jude after the Beatles' song "Hey, Jude." His siblings were named Joaquin, Summer, Rain, and Liberty. After living in Venezuela as members of the religious sect, Children of God, the family 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 fifteen, River had begun his movie career in "Explorers" (1985), followed by "Stand by Me" (1986), and "The Mosquito Coast" (1986). His role of 'Danny Pope' in "Running on Empty" (1988) earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. A talented musician, he also played the guitar, sang and wrote music for his band, "Aleka's Attic", which included his sister, Rain. Considered an actor on the rise with a potentially unlimited career, he gave an outstanding performance as a male hustler in "My Own Private Idaho" (1991), and he was selected for numerous movie roles, beginning with "Dark Blood" (1994) and "Interview with a Vampire" (1994), for which both of his roles were given to other actors after his death. An active environmentalist, vegetarian, and member of PETA, he bought up several hundred acres of rain forest in Brazil and Costa Rica, to keep them from being cut down. Visiting actor Johnny Depp's Los Angeles nightclub, the Viper Room, while on a date with actress Samantha Mathis, he collapsed outside from an overdose of drugs, and died shortly afterwards. His ashes were scattered at his family's Florida ranch.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson
John Lee Bottom