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Heart Phoenix

John Phoenix

Rain Phoenix

Joaquin Phoenix, Leaf Phoenix

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers



Silent Tongue

Lone Star State of Mine

The Thing Called Love

Stand By Me

A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon

My Own Private Idaho

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

James Dean


Wolfgang Muller

Gordie Lachance

River Phoenix: A Short Life

They Died Too Young: River Phoenix

Brian J. Robb

Costa Rica

San Francisco
Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix
American EnglishEn Français

River Phoenix: A Short Life

by Brian J. Robb.
First published in 1995.

ISBN 0-85965-214-9 (Paperback, 168 Pages)

Probably one of the better biographies that presently exists. The author appears to show genuine concern for his subject as he methodically documents River and his tormented life.

Throughout the ten chapters making up this book, author Brian J. Robb steers his investigations away from much of the Hollywood gossip that presently exists. However, it is perhaps a sad fact that once the gossip is removed from such Hollywood based subjects, there often are not a great many facts left to explore. As such, at various points throughout the book, the reader may find themselves wishing for a little more information about certain events and people.

Already in Stand By Me he is coming over on screen as wise beyond his years, showing a deeply embedded sense of authority, of rightness. He serves as a guidance counselor to the other kids, with Gordie Lachance the only one who can give him advice in turn. The very effective performance from River Phoenix was only a hint of things to come.

Fully illustrated throughout with both black & white and full color pictures, the book contains publicity shots from all of River's movies except for Silent Tongue. In what is probably the best collection of pictures in any of the published biographies, the assortment also includes other productions such as Seven Brides for Seven Brothers and even family photographs are also present.

There is a bigger irony for John and Arlyn Phoenix as a result of the law suits. Although the exact amount left by Phoenix will never be known as it was sealed on the orders of a judge, the figure was expected to be several million dollars. He had most recently been paid $1.5 million for The Thing Called Love. However, after the law suits there may be little of it left. If the remaining money, as well as the properties in Costa Rica and Florida were to be seized to offset the claims in the law suits, then John and Arlyn Phoenix would find their spiritual quest has brought them full circle - they'll be right back where they started in 1968, with nothing.

Although published more or less at the same time, both this book and the They Died Too Young: River Phoenix books appear to share several similarities as can be seen in the list of errors below. Further copies of this book were re-printed at the end of 1997 as a second edition.

Variations on a Theme

Place of Birth:

A log cabin.

Cause of Death:

River's drink was secretly spiked with liquid GHB.

Boldest Claim:

River was bisexual.

Blunder List

Page 8
Even if River's TV movies are not being counted, he still appeared in more than nine movies which the book states here.


Page 13
River's family left South America and returned to the United States in 1978, not 1977 as this book claims. The book repeats the error on page 27.


Page 13
The book states that Dogfight was River's only top-billing role. For some reason the author forgets about A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon, My Own Private Idaho and The Thing Called Love.


Page 17
John Phoenix is two and a half years younger than Arlyn, not one year as stated here.


Page 27
River appeared as Wolfgang Müller at the age of fourteen, not twelve.


Page 64
River did not write the theme song for the movie A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon. The song he wrote was ultimately not included in the film.


Page 65
James Dean died aged 24 not 28.


Page 103
Not all of Dogfight's scenes were filmed in Seattle. A couple of locations in San Francisco were also used.


Page 116
River doesn't appear in Even Cowgirls Get The Blues as a "guru-seeking hippy" - he turned down the part. Talking about this movie the book also mentions River's sister but by this time she had reverted back to her original name and was no longer known as Rainbow.


Page 132
The title of the song River wrote during The Thing Called Love is listed at the end of that film's credits as "Lone Star State of Mine" not "Lone Star State of Mind" as written here.


Page 132
The author refers to River's younger brother as Leaf here even though earlier in the book it is correctly established that Joaquin changed back to his original name in the early 1990's.

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