October 31, 1993

 

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River Phoenix was officially pronounced dead at 1:51am on Halloween morning October 31, 1993.  The stated cause was Acute Multiple Drug Intoxication.  At the time of his death River was 23 years old, weighed 149 lbs, measured 70 inches in height, and had brown hair and green eyes.  River spent his last hours at the LA club The Viper Room with his girlfriend Samantha Mathis, his brother Joaquin and his sister Rain.  While there he was given a lethal mixture of Cocaine and Heroin.  After having a bad reaction to the drugs, he was taken outside the club and laid on the sidewalk where he proceeded to have siezures.  911 was called at appoximately 1:10am by both his brother and a Photographer who happened to stumble onto the scene, but unfortunately River was not able to be saved.  His family, friends, fans, colleagues, the music community and the movie industry miss him tremendously. Regardless of his death, to this day River's message of love and peace is still spreading throughout the world.  Rest in Peace River and thank you for all that you did to spread the word about animal rights, human rights and environmental issues.

Iris Burton, Phoenix's agent: "We went to Tokyo for the premiere of Stand By Me... He would go to the park outside the Imperial Hotel-guys and girls were playing guitars there-and he'd tell them, "Come up, come up to the room." And that room was filled with kids from the park; he would play guitar for them and give them fruit and juice."

Ed Lachman, director of photography. Dark Blood: A week before [he died], we were in Gallup, New Mexico, on the road. I had a lot of cases in my room, film equipment. I came out into the hall and said, "Can someone help me with my gear?" Somebody said, "Yeah." I didn't see who it was-I didn't have my glasses on. I went back into my room, brushed my teeth. There's a knock on the door, and it's River. I go, "River, what are you doing here?" He said, "I came to help you." I said, "I didn't mean you!" He said, "Why can't I help ya?"

Carolyn Pfeiffer, producer. Silent Tongue: We didn't have enough trailers to give to everyone, so we gave them to the first four above-the-line people. When River started working with Sheila [Tousey], he realized that she was in a honey wagon and he was in a trailer, and she not only had long makeup hours, but a lot of preparation doing vocal exercises. So he came to me and said, "I'd like to give Sheila my trailer and I'll go into the honey wagon." I'd never had an actor say, "May I give up my comfortable space for a smaller one, because one of my fellow performers needs it more than I do?"

Bobby Bukowski, director of photography, Dogfight: When I first met River, he had very long hair and he struck me-as he came out of an elevator-as an angel, some kind of supernatural being. An angel could be Gabriel, but an angel could be Lucifer too. He would as readily delve into the deep, dark recesses as he would fly up to the lofty, illuminated [places].

William Richert, director. A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon : One time we were up in the mountains with this Polynesian girl, and the clouds came right up to the top of the mountain. River grabbed each of our arms and said, We're going to run and jump into these clouds, and our whole past lives will dissolve, and everything will be new from then on. Hold on." And we did that. And I'm thinking, Here I am, at my age, jumping off this cliff with this kid. But it was incredible, and we landed on this soft iceberg kind of ground covering. But we jumped through the clouds, literally.

Martha Plimpton: "He's already being made into a martyr," says Phoenix's first and longtime love, actress Martha Plimpton. "He's become a metaphor for a fallen angel, a messiah. He wasn't. He was just a boy; a very good-hearted boy who was very fucked-up and had no idea how to implement his good intentions. I don't want to be comforted by his death. I think it's right that I'm angry about it, angry at the people who helped him stay sick, and angry at River."

 

Keanu Reeves:  I enjoyed his company. Very much. And enjoyed his mind and his spirit and his soul.  We brought good out in each other.  He was a real original thinker.  He was not the status quo.  In anything.

William Richert: The last time I heard from him, on the [answering] machine, he said, "I'm out here in Utah and I'm having kind of a hard time keeping my head above water in this crazy business." So when he came back [to L.A.] he was on R and R. And a very pure person got into a situation that was bigger than him.

 

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