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Further Phoenix
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Heart Phoenix

John Phoenix

Rain Phoenix

Liberty Phoenix

Summer Phoenix


Paramount Studios/Pictures

Los Angeles

Iris Burton


Peter Bogdanovich

Lone Star State of Mine

The Thing Called Love

A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon

Viper Room

James Dean

Aleka's Attic

Keanu Reeves

Rob Reiner

New York

The River Phoenix Album

They Died Too Young: River Phoenix

Penny Stempel

John Belushi

Marilyn Monroe

Memorial Service

Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
Rio's Attic: Celebrating the Life and Times of a Dearly Missed River Phoenix
American EnglishEn Français

They Died Too Young: River Phoenix

by Penny Stempel.
First published in 1995.

ISBN 0-7525-0725-7 (Hardback, 73 Pages)

Measuring less than 4½ x 3½ inches, this tiny little book presents a quick but thoughtful peek into the life of, in the book's words, "the new James Dean".

This biography begins in much the same way as its huge counterpart The River Phoenix Album, with the heart-breaking events outside the Hollywood night-club "The Viper Room" during that second hour of Halloween 1993. Shortly thereafter, the reader is whisked 25 years back in time to New York where we find Arlyn Dunetz making her momentous decision to hitchhike to California.

All too soon though, after examining the events of River's life at lightning speed the author returns us back to that Los Angeles pavement for the book's close.

After twenty minutes in the emergency room of the Sedars-Sinai Medical Center a few blocks south, River Phoenix was officially declared dead. But those who saw him on the Sunset Strip pavement have no real doubt that he died there, on a warm October night, under the curved black awning that protects departing Viper customers from rain that never falls. River Phoenix joined the pantheon of Hollywood stars whose image retains a special lustre because they never lived to grow old - James Dean, John Belushi, Marilyn Monroe - but he joined early.

Also to be found within the book's miniature pages are a modest collection of lesser-seen photographs with subjects as varied as Aleka's Attic, Keanu Reeves and the skyline of Caracas, Venezuela.

Phoenix - in real life the oldest sibling in difficult circumstances - was always to be at his best on screen when giving solace or voicing his own pain.

Variations on a Theme

Place of Birth:

A log cabin.

Cause of Death:

Massive doses of heroin and cocaine, both in lethal quantities.
Valium, marijuana and ephedrine also present.

Boldest Claim:

John and Heart's faith in false idols was responsible for their son's death.

Blunder List

Page 1
The Hollywood nightclub "The Viper Room" is incorrectly referred to as "The Viper Club".


Page 6
John Phoenix is two and a half years younger than Arlyn, not one year as stated here.


Page 25
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 57
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 71

There was a small private memorial service for River Phoenix in Hollywood. Among the close friends who spoke at his memorial were directors Peter Bogdanovich and Rob Reiner, River's agent Iris Burton, his sisters Rain and Liberty, and his nineteen-year-old brother Summer.

Summer Phoenix was a mere fourteen-years-old when she so bravely faced the emotional ordeal of her beloved brother's official memorial service at Paramount Studios in Hollywood. As for Summer being River's brother, unbelievable....

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