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River Phoenix

Picture of River Phoenix.

River Jude Phoenix (August 23, 1970 – October 31, 1993) was an up-and-coming movie star when he died suddenly of drug-induced heart failure in 1993 at the age of 23. His brief career was marked by critically-acclaimed performances in films such as Stand by Me (1986), Running on Empty (1988) and Gus Van Sant’s My Own Private Idaho (1991, with Keanu Reeves). Phoenix was the eldest of five children whose itinerant parents were members of a radical Christian group called the Children of God (later known as The Family). His family lived in communes in Oregon, Texas, Puerto Rico and Venezuela before settling in Florida. Pursuing entertainment careers for their children, the parents moved the family to Los Angeles, where Phoenix began getting television jobs in the early 1980s. Although his first feature film was 1985’s Explorers (with young Ethan Hawke), it was his stand-out performance in the ensemble drama Stand by Me that gained him national recognition. Phoenix was labeled a promising young actor and his career took off. He co-starred with Harrison Ford in both The Mosquito Coast (1986) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), and earned an Oscar nomination for his performance in Running on Empty. His other films include Little Nikita (1988, with Sidney Poitier), Dogfight (1991) and Sneakers (1992, with Robert Redford).

In 1993, outside Johnny Depp’s L.A. nightclub, The Viper Room, Phoenix went into cardiac arrest and died, a result of lethal levels of heroin and cocaine.

Birth Place: Metolius, Oregon USA on 1970-08-23
Known For: Acting

TOP FIVE ROLES YOU MAY HAVE MISSED
My Own Private Idaho
In this loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Henry IV,” Mike Waters is a gay hustler afflicted with narcolepsy. Scott Favor is the rebellious son of a mayor. Together, the two travel from Portland, Oregon to Idaho and finally to the coast of Italy in a quest to find Mike’s estranged mother. Along the way they turn tricks for money and drugs, eventually attracting the attention of a wealthy benefactor and sexual deviant.
Release Date: 1991-02-01
Role: Michael “Mike” Waters


The Thing Called Love
Miranda Presley moves from New York to Nashville to become a songwriter. At an unsuccessful audition she meets James Wright, a promising newcomer. After only a few days they marry but start to quickly regret it.
Release Date: 1993-08-27
Role: James Wright


Dogfight
In the fall of 1963, Eddie Birdlace is an 18-year-old Marine Corps volunteer who is about to ship out with three of his buddies for a tour of duty in Viet Nam. Planning a massive blowout for their last night in San Francisco, Eddie, his buddies, and a number of other Marines set up a contest they call a “dogfight.”
Release Date: 1991-09-13
Role: Eddie Birdlace


A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon
A recent high school graduate is faced with two options, either go to a business school where his father wants him to go to, or get a full time job. However he decides to defy his father and go to Hawaii. Trouble is he has no money. Along the way he comes to understand his parents and eventually bonds with his father.
Release Date: 1988-07-21
Role: Jimmy Reardon


Dark Blood
Filmed in 1993 but never completed due to River Phoenix’s death, Dark Blood tells the story of Boy, a young widower living on a nuclear testing site in the desert. Boy is waiting for the end of the world and carves Katchina dolls that supposedly contain magical powers. Boy’s solitude is interrupted when a Hollywood jet-set couple who are travelling across the desert become stranded after their car breaks down. The couple are rescued by Boy, who then holds them prisoner because of his desire for the woman and his ambition to create a better world with her.
Release Date: 2012-09-27
Role: Boy

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