River Jude Phoenix was an American actor, musician and activist. He was the older brother of Rain Phoenix, Joaquin Phoenix, Summer Phoenix and Liberty Phoenix. Phoenix's work encompassed 24 films and television appearances, including the science fiction adventure film Explorers, the coming-of-age film Stand by Me, the action sequel Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and the independent adult drama My Own Private Idaho. Phoenix's meteoric rise to fame led to his status as a "teen sensation".
Phoenix began acting at age 10 in television commercials. He appeared in diverse roles, making his first notable appearance in the 1986 film Stand by Me, a hugely popular coming-of-age film based on a novella by Stephen King. Phoenix made a transition into more adult-oriented roles with Running on Empty, playing the son of fugitive parents in a well-received performance that earned him a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, and My Own Private Idaho, playing a gay hustler in search of his estranged mother. For his performance in the latter, Phoenix garnered enormous praise and won a Volpi Cup for Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival, along with Best Actor from the National Society of Film Critics.