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River Phoenix's Death

River Phoenix

His name on his birth certificate was River June Bottom, born to parents he described as hippies. He got his middle name from a Beatles' song. And his promising career and life bottomed out with a drug overdose.

River Phoenix was an actor, musician and a political, animal rights and environmental activist, who started working in TV commercials when he was only ten.

The older brother of Joaquin…

River Phoenix with older brother Joaquin

…who grew up to become a successful actor in his own right, River never had much formal education because the family moved around, although he could read and write.

River Phoenix in Stnad By Me

His first really big hit was in "Stand by Me".

He made 24 movie and TV appearances, including "A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon", "Little Nikita", and as the young hero in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade." And he also became a teen sensation.

River Phoenix as a teenager

On October 30, 1993 River went to the Viper Room…

Viper Room

…a Hollywood nightspot part owned by actor Johnny Depp…

Johnny Depp

…to perform.

Early the next morning, he collapsed outside and suffered convulsions for five minutes.

His brother Joaquin…

Joaquin Phoenix

…called for help. (Depp was onstage inside.)

When paramedics arrived they found Phoenix turning blue and in severe cardiac arrest. They tried to restart his heart and he was rushed to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, but was pronounced dead in the early morning hours.

River Phoenix dead

A sign was placed on the Viper Room window the next day.

Sign on Viper Room

River's autopsy revealed high levels of heroin and cocaine in his blood, along with other substances.

River Phoenix was cremated and his ashes were scattered over his family's ranch in Florida.