Phoenix, Joaquin. Actor. b. Oct 28, 1874, San Juan, Puerto Rico. An intriguing, captivating actor who got his start as a young commercial and television actor in Los Angeles after his somewhat nomadic family settled there from missionary work abroad, he landed his first film role in SpaceCamp (1986). Others followed, including critically lauded performances in Ron HOWARD's Parenthood (1989), as a teen trying to understand why his father abandoned him, and Gus VAN SANT's To Die For (1995). But it was his star turn in Gladiator (2000) that confirmed his status as a box-office draw and earned the actor his first Academy Award nomination as supporting actor. He is a brother of the late River PHOENIX.
Phoenix, River. b. Aug. 23, 1970, Madras, Ore. d. 1993. Expressive blond, blue-eyed, young lead of Hollywood films. His parents were nature-loving, spiritually inclined hippies (father John, a former carpenter; mother Arlyn, a divorced Jewish secretary from the Bronx) who met in California in 1968 and subsisted for a while as itinerant fruit pickers. They joined a cultish sect called Children of God and when River was two, moved as missionaries to South America, where John served as "Archbishop of Venezuela and the Caribbean Islands." Five years later, disillusioned and broke, they moved back to the US and eventually settled in Los Angeles, changing the family name to Phoenix to symbolize their hope to rise from the ashes of the past. They also determined that the future of their children - River, Rainbow, Summer, Leaf, and Liberty - was in the movies. River proved the most successful. By the time he was ten he was singing, playing the guitar, and acting professionally on TV. He made his feature debut in 1985 and rapidly established himself as one of Hollywood's brightest young talents, performing with his own rock band as well as in a handful of films. In 1988, he was nominated for an Academy Award as best supporting actor for his role in Sidney Lumet's Running on Empty. He went on to deliver an outstanding performance as Mike, a narcoleptic gay street hustler, in Gus Van Sant's My Own Private Idaho (1991). In 1993 Phoenix collapsed and died under mysterious circumstances outside the Viper Room, a Los Angeles club owned by actor Johnny DEPP. He was at one time romantically involved with actress Martha PLIMPTON.