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"By the time a kid walks through the door I know if he or she's a winner or a loser," says Hollywood's leading children's agent Iris Burton. "If they jump in or slouch in, if they're biting their nails or rocking back and forth I don't want 'em. If I don't see the hidden strength, feel the energy, then the magic isn't there. I can smell it like a rat." Talking of the pressures placed upon children in show business, she remarked, "I hate to say it but kids are pieces of meat. I've never had anything but filet mignon. I've never had hamburger - my kids are the choice meat."
Burton saw talent and potential in River straight away. "River was the most beautiful child you've ever seen - like a little Elvis", she recalled. She would groom the careers of all the Phoenix children but would always refer to River as "My baby." River would soon become her most successful client and she would accompany him to the Tokyo premier of Stand By Me.
One night after much heavy partying, River received a phone call from Burton telling him he had been nominated for an Academy Award for his performance in Running On Empty. "I was like completely out", remembered River. "We were on the road in a hotel room and Iris is going, 'Oh, my baby!' And it was like, well, okay. And I went back to sleep."
Talking of her client's death, Iris Burton said simply, "I'm in the same amount of pain no matter how he died. We're all really in enough pain that he passed away."