The family were poor so River and Rain would often sing on street corners to collect money.
He played a Marine in ‘Dogfight’ (a role he was uncomfortable with) and made two films with his friend Keanu Reeves, who had worked with Joaquin on ‘Parenthood’ – ‘I Love You To Death’ and Gus Van Sant’s ‘My Own Private Idaho’.
River then worked with Robert Redford and SIdney Potier in ‘Sneakers’, mad a ghost western called ‘Silent Tongue,’ and a country-music romance called ‘That Thing Called Love’.
He was in a relationship with ‘Goonies’ star Martha Plimpton for a few years and was dating Samantha Mathis (above) at the time of his death.
You’ll know the brothers River and Joaquin Phoenix, and that they come from a vaguely hippyish background with oddly named sisters – but what happened to all the other kids?
First a little background – they’re actually the Bottom family.
John Lee Bottom and Aryln Sharon Dunetz met while hitchhiking in Calfornia and married in 1969.
In 1973 they joined the ‘Children of God’ cult and were sent to live in Venezuela as missionaries.
In 1980 he made his first TV appearance, singing on show called ‘Fantasy’ with his sister Rain.
He then went on to star in a few TV movies (getting notice for one about a boy with dyslexia) and landed a part opposite Ethan Hawke in the kids sci-fi adventure ‘Explorers’. His next big role was in the 1986 coming-of-age drama ‘Stand By Me’ (catch up with his co-stars HERE).
River then played Harrison Ford’s son in the film ‘Mosquito Coast’ (he also had a small role as a young Indiana Jones in ‘The Last Crusade’) and was Oscar nominated for his part in ‘Running On Empty’.
By this point River was successful enough to buy a ranch for his family in Florida and land in Costa Rica, no doubt he wanted somewhere to settle down as they had moved home over 40 times by his 18th birthday.