Died on the sidewalk outside The Viper Room


A tragic death on this day, October 31, in 1993 at the age of 23.

Born on August 23, 1970 (Virgo), in Madras, Oregon, River Phoenix achieved fame at 15 in the 1986 film ‘Stand by Me,’ which was based on a novella by Stephen King.

Remembering River Phoenix
River Phoenix in ‘Stand by Me’

He followed it up with Sidney Lumet’s ‘Running on Empty’ in 1988, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Remembering River Phoenix

‘My Own Private Idaho’ in 1991, written and directed by Gus van Sant, won him the Best Actor award at the Venice Film Festival.

“Phoenix immerses himself so deeply inside his character you almost forget you’ve seen him before,” a film reviewer wrote of his performance in ‘My Own Private Idaho.’ “It’s a stunningly sensitive performance, poignant and comic at once.”

Remembering River Phoenix

River Phoenix was one of the most influential actors of his generation at the time of his death of an accidental drug overdose.

He collapsed on the sidewalk outside the popular West Hollywood nightspot The Viper Room, which was part-owned by actor Johnny Depp at the time.

Depp closed the Viper Room every year on October 31 until selling his share in the club in 2004.


River’s brother Joaquin is well known to the world as a superb actor; his sisters Rain, Liberty and Summer are actors and musicians.

Remembering River Phoenix

During his childhood, River travelled in South America with his “hippie” missionary parents, members of the Children of God cult. The Phoenix family fled Venezuela by stowing away in a cruise ship. Once back in America, River and his siblings all became child actors.

River was an outspoken animal rights activist and environmentalist.


”We take these animals and completely violate who they are. We use them, abuse them, and deprive them all their lives. Then we cut their throats, shred them and eat them! It’s insane. The thought of meat-eating makes me shudder.”

‘My Own Private Idaho’ — five deleted scenes

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2 thoughts on “Died on the sidewalk outside The Viper Room

  1. __

    Shared, Sir. I wish you are doing well (as well as it can be). This story, this incident, reminds me of a friend, a girlfriend. We were neighbors. We were walking the same roads to go to school, and to return back home. She became a wonderful philologist, a wonderful teacher. She was teaching in one of the schools we used to visit as students, when we were kids, and once upon a time. She collapsed on the road, the same road we used to walk back and forth, for years- while she was walking back home.

    I heard the bad news while i was in US. When i bring the image of the road in mind, and her image, collapsing, and the image of her poor mother, i collapse, also. She was a divorced mom, a single parent. And i want to curse the gods, of course.

    Brain aneurysm was the cause. According to the so-called specialists.


    Ps : my apologies, Sir, for having to read this.


  2. Thank you, dear friend, for sharing that story with me, a terrible tragedy but so poignantly told. Your simple phrase, “the same road we used to walk back and forth, for years” becomes so vivid in my mind, I can picture the scene and feel the pain.