Why Famous: River Phoenix made his first notable appearance in the 1986 film "Stand by Me", then followed it up with "Running on Empty" (1988) and "My Own Private Idaho" (1991), which won him the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival.
Phoenix was acclaimed as one of the most influential actors of his generation before he died of a drug overdose at the age of 23.
Biography: River Phoenix (1970-1993) was an American actor whose death from a drug overdose on a West Hollywood sidewalk ended a promising career.
River was born in Oregon but spent much of his early childhood traveling with his family in South America. After becoming disillusioned with the Children of God cult, the Phoenix family fled Venezuela by stowing away in a cruise ship. Once back in America, River and his siblings all secured careers as child actors.
River’s significant roles include: Chris Chambers in Stand By Me, Mike Waters in My Own Private Idaho, Young Indy in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Danny Pope in Running on Empty, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.
River was also a dedicated and outspoken animal rights activist and environmentalist. These concerns fostered a ‘good-boy’ public image that made his death and its cause a massive shock to his fans. He is survived by his talented siblings Joaquin, River, Liberty and Summer - all successful actors and musicians. (OnThisDay.com)
- 1986-08-22 "Stand By Me" film based on the novella by Stephen King, directed by Rob Reiner starring Wil Wheaten, River Phoenix, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O'Connell is released
- 1991-10-18 "My Own Private Idaho" directed and written by Gus van Sant starring River Phoenix and Keanu Reeves is released