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Today's birthday, August 23

AAP logoAAP 22/08/2016

Today's Birthday, August 23: High profile American movie star River Phoenix (1970 - 1993)

Drugs cut River Phoenix's life short after a fatal heart attack. The actor was at the start of a promising career after already appearing in at least 24 films and TV shows.

River died on the night he was scheduled to play alongside Red Hot Chilli Peppers guitarist Flea, in the Johnny-Depp-owned Viper Room.

His body convulsed on a lethal cocktail of drugs while lying on the footpath outside the Hollywood nightclub.

His brother Joaquin desperately dialed the emergency hotline.

When the paramedics arrived, River's body was turning dark blue and recorded a flatline pulse.

He died during the early hours of October 31 1993 at only 23 years of age.

The autopsy report said a mix of morphine and cocaine had been surging throughout his body.

Born in Oregon, River grew up in Florida with his siblings: Rain, Joaquin, Summer and Liberty.

The family moved to Venezuela and joined Children of God before his parents left the cult and moved their children back to Florida in the late 1970s.

To symbolise their new lives, his parents changed their last names from Bottom to Phoenix. Using self-taught skills, River played the guitar while his siblings sang on the streets of LA to support their family.

One day a celebrity casting agent sighted them.

River, being the oldest, quickly scored small bit parts in ads and TV shows before starring in Stand by Me.

Overnight he became a household name.

He then picked up major roles in movies such as Mosquito Coast, Little Nikita, Indiana Jones and The Last Crusaders, and My Own Private Idaho.

River was known as the vegan James Dean. He invested in a homeless charity, and supported PETA.

He died with only 11 days of filming to go on Dark Blood.

River never got the chance to star in Interview with the Vampire, a part that went to Hollywood hotshot Christian Slater.

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