Photo of River Phoenix River Phoenix

A talented actor who evoked James Dean's intensity and tragedy, River Phoenix was born River Jude Bottom on Aug. 23, 1970, in Madras, Ore., to parents who encouraged their children (including brother Joaquin) to act.

His television debut came and went with the brief 1982 series "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," while the 1985 space-adventure film Explorers marked his entree into film. But that same year's surprise hit Stand by Me pushed Phoenix into another orbit. He played Harrison Ford's son in Mosquito Coast (1986) and later played Ford as a teenager in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989). That same year, he was nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for Running on Empty.

Perhaps most memorable as a narcoleptic hustler in My Own Private Idaho (1991), Phoenix died in Hollywood of a drug overdose on Oct. 31, 1993, just before the release of his last film, Silent Tongue.

River Phoenix in Stand by Me

Stand by Me

1986 R

Four boys seek adventure and heroism in the Oregon woods with their search for a missing teen's dead body in the 1950s. What they uncover about themselves along the way, however, means even more.

  • River Phoenix in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  • River Phoenix in Sneakers Sneakers
  • River Phoenix in My Own Private Idaho My Own Private Idaho
  • River Phoenix in The Thing Called Love The Thing Called Love
  • River Phoenix in I Love You to Death I Love You to Death
  • River Phoenix in A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon
  • River Phoenix in Dogfight Dogfight
  • River Phoenix in Silent Tongue Silent Tongue