Richest CelebritiesActors
Net Worth:
$5 Million
Aug 23, 1970 - Oct 31, 1993 (23 years old)
5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
Actor, Musician, Singer-songwriter, Guitarist, Activist, Environmentalist
United States of America
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What is River Phoenix's Net Worth?

River Phoenix was an American actor, activist and musician who had a net worth of $5 million at the time of his death in 1993. River Phoenix began his acting career as a kid on the television series "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and then in films such as "Explorers," "Stand by Me," "The Mosquito Coast," and "Running on Empty." As a young adult, he appeared in "My Own Private Idaho," "Sneakers," and "The Thing Called Love," among other films. On Halloween in 1993, Phoenix died at the age of 23 after overdosing on heroin and cocaine.

Early Life

River Phoenix was born as River Bottom on August 23, 1970 in Madras, Oregon as the first child of itinerant hippie parents John Lee Bottom and Arlyn Dunetz. His first name was derived from the novel "Siddhartha." Phoenix had Russian and Hungarian Jewish ancestry through his mother, and French, English, and German ancestry through his father. His siblings are Rain, Joaquin, Liberty, and Summer, all of whom also entered show business. In 1973, the family joined the religious cult Children of God and settled in Caracas, Venezuela as missionaries. Reportedly, Phoenix was raped as a young child while in the group.

Career Beginnings

Moving back to the US, the Phoenix family settled in Los Angeles, California. In the city's Westwood neighborhood, the kids would perform on street corners for money to support their family. Phoenix never received a formal education. Eventually, the kids were spotted by talent agent Iris Burton, who decided to represent them. Phoenix went on to appear in television commercials for such brands as Ocean Spray and Mitsubishi. Not long after that, he and his siblings were signed by Paramount Pictures casting director Penny Marshall. With his sister Rain, Phoenix worked as an audience warm-up performer on the show "Real Kids."

Film Career

In 1985, Phoenix made his feature film debut in Joe Dante's science-fantasy film "Explorers," starring as boy scientist Wolfgang Müller. The next year, he starred in Rob Reiner's coming-of-age film "Stand by Me" as Chris Chambers, one of four childhood best friends in 1959 Oregon who go on an adventure to find a boy's dead body. His costars in the acclaimed film were Wil Wheaton, Corey Feldman, and Jerry O'Connell. Later in 1986, Phoenix played the son of Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren's characters in Peter Weir's "The Mosquito Coast." In 1988, Phoenix starred in three films: the coming-of-age dramedy "A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon," the thriller "Little Nikita," and the drama "Running on Empty." For his performance as the elder son of a fugitive countercultural family in the lattermost film, he earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Phoenix ended the 80s with the hit action-adventure sequel "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," in which he played a young version of the titular character, which was played by Harrison Ford.

Phoenix's first film role of the 90s was in the black comedy "I Love You to Death," featuring an ensemble including Kevin Kline, Keanu Reeves, Joan Plowright, and Tracey Ullman, among others. Next, he starred opposite Lili Taylor in the acclaimed 1991 coming-of-age drama "Dogfight." The same year, he reunited with Keanu Reeves for Gus Van Sant's landmark New Queer Cinema film "My Own Private Idaho," in which he played street hustler Mikey Waters. Phoenix's performance in the film was among the most lauded of his career, earning him the Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival and the Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead. He was subsequently in the thriller "Sneakers" and the dramedy "The Thing Called Love," the last film he completed before his passing. Two additional films were released posthumously: Sam Shepard's "Silent Tongue" and George Sluizer's "Dark Blood."


Television Career

Phoenix debuted on television in 1982 with a main role on the CBS musical television series "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers," based on the eponymous 1954 film. The show only lasted for a season before being canceled in 1983. Following that, Phoenix appeared in the miniseries "Celebrity" and in an episode of "ABC Afterschool Special." In 1985, he portrayed Robert Kennedy Jr. in the miniseries "Robert Kennedy & His Times," and appeared in the acclaimed television film "Surviving: A Family in Crisis." Phoenix's final role on the small screen was in the 1986 television film "Circle of Violence: A Family Drama."

Music Career

A passionate singer-songwriter and guitarist, Phoenix signed a contract with Island Records in the 80s and formed the band Aleka's Attic with his sister Rain. Other members of the group were Tim Hankins, Josh McKay, and Josh Greenbaum. Aleka's Attic song "Too Many Colors" was used in Phoenix's film "My Own Private Idaho." Ultimately, the band dissolved in 1992, but Phoenix continued to write and perform.


As an activist, Phoenix was a fervent supporter of animal rights and environmental conservation. He served as a spokesperson for PETA and made donations to a variety of organizations focused on environmentalism and humanitarianism.

Personal Life and Death

While filming "The Mosquito Coast" in 1986, Phoenix began a romantic relationship with his costar Martha Plimpton. The pair later costarred in "Running on Empty." In 1989, they separated due to Phoenix's alleged drug use. Phoenix later dated his "The Thing Called Love" costar Samantha Mathis in 1993.

In late October in 1993, Phoenix reportedly went on a drug binge with Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante. The pair took copious amounts of heroin and cocaine and had not slept for several days. During this time, Phoenix went to the West Hollywood nightclub the Viper Room to perform with the band P. He informed his bandmates during the performance that he wasn't feeling well, but declined to be taken home. Moments later, Phoenix's girlfriend Samantha Mathis found him outside on the sidewalk having a seizure. Paramedics arrived and took him to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead on October 31 at the age of 23. His ashes were scattered at the Phoenix family ranch in Micanopy, Florida.

All net worths are calculated using data drawn from public sources. When provided, we also incorporate private tips and feedback received from the celebrities or their representatives. While we work diligently to ensure that our numbers are as accurate as possible, unless otherwise indicated they are only estimates. We welcome all corrections and feedback using the button below.
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