Joaquín Phoenix

by ethnic on February 8, 2009

Birth Name: Joaquín Rafael Bottom

Place of Birth: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Date of Birth: October 28, 1974

*English, along with German, distant French Huguenot (father)
*Ashkenazi Jewish (mother)

Joaquín Phoenix, previously also credited as Leaf Phoenix, is an American actor, musician, producer, music video director, and activist. He is known for his roles in the films To Die For, Gladiator, and The Master, among many others. He is the brother of late actor River Phoenix, as well as actresses Rain Phoenix, Liberty Phoenix, and Summer Phoenix.

He was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to parents from the continental United States, and was raised in Florida and California. At one point, Joaquín’s parents joined the religious group Children of God, which they later left.

Joaquín is the son of Arlyn Phoenix (born Arlyn Dunetz), a social activist, and John Phoenix (born Johnny Lee Bottom). Joaquín’s mother is Jewish; half of her family are Russian Jews and the other half are Hungarian Jews. Joaquín’s father is of mostly English descent, along with at least 1/128th German, from his ancestor, Johan Jacob Peter Kimberlin, and French Huguenot roots from another, distant, ancestor, Francis Posey, from Cambray, France.

Joaquin has said:

I’m Jewish… But I don’t think I’ve ever been very religious, no, though I do consider myself a spiritual person. I appreciate a lot of traditions from various faiths. I’m on a path.

Joaquín’s paternal grandfather was Robert Merrill Bottom (the son of William Dell Bottom and Cordelia Pearl Matherly). Robert was born in Kentucky, as were all of his grandparents. William was the son of Fidellar/Phidellar Sharp Bottom and Rachel Ann Bolling/Bowling. Cordelia was the daughter of David Houston Matherly and Sarah Frances Purdom.

Joaquín’s paternal grandmother was Beulah Ernestine Ingram (the daughter of Robert Lee Ingram and Mary Elizabeth Leach/Leidy). Beulah was born in Missouri, and Beulah’s grandparents were born in Tennessee (two), Illinois, and Iowa. Mary Elizabeth was the daughter of William John Leidy and Sarah Clarissa Dyer.

Joaquín’s maternal grandfather was Meyer Dunetz (the son of Samuel/Sam Dunetz and Libbe “Sallie” Grodenzik). Meyer was born in New York. Samuel and Libbe were Russian Jewish immigrants. Samuel was the son of Moses/Moshe Idel Dunetz and Shifra. Libbe was the daughter of Simon Gordon and Menucha.

Joaquín’s maternal grandmother was Margaret “Margie” Lefkowitz (the daughter of Ignatz Lefkowitz and Mary Beck). Margaret was born in New York, the daughter of Hungarian Jewish immigrants. Ignatz was born in Imre, Zemplén, Hungary (now Malčice, Slovakia), the son of Herman Lefkowitz and Rose Greenwald. Mary was the daughter of Ignatz Beck and Maly Frankel.

Sources: Genealogies of Joaquín Phoenix –

Joaquín’s uncle (father’s brother), Phillip Bottom, on the 1940 U.S. Census –

Genealogy of Joaquín’s paternal grandfather, Robert Merrill Bottom –

Joaquín’s paternal grandmother, Beulah Ernestine Ingram, on the 1930 U.S. Census –

Joaquín’s great-uncle (maternal grandfather’s brother), Bernard Dunetz, on the 1940 U.S. Census –

Joaquín’s maternal grandfather, Meyer Dunetz, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

Joaquín’s maternal grandmother, Margaret “Margie” Lefkowitz, on the 1920 U.S. Census –

Alan C. Heison /

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

andrew October 12, 2017 at 3:10 pm

Ignatz Lefkowitz was born in Imre, Zemplén, Hungary (now Malčice, Slovakia)

andrew October 12, 2017 at 2:59 pm
Capricious April 4, 2015 at 2:03 am

I like his eyebrows and olive skin.

andrew September 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm

He played a Jew in “Two Lovers”. That movie was fuckin’ great IMO

Petrarca May 28, 2012 at 10:48 pm

He may be Puerto Rican but he’s no Boricua.

Mikuri Svietmše May 15, 2015 at 6:50 pm

puerto rican is not an ethnicity.

Dropit! March 25, 2012 at 8:44 pm

U dumb ass’s! Puerto Ricans according to their census are 83% white! Look at Ricky martin, Benicio del Toro, Jose ferrer, Rita Moreno, and many other celebrities. I’ve been to PR and they are mostly white. Spanish and italian looking. Puerto Rico is a Commonwealth in other words its an unincorporated territory of U.S.A. but they have their own identity. Overall joaquim is Puerto Rican as when smeone is born in NY and is a newyorker. Are all newyorkers white or black or yellow? Of course not. So what’s all you peoples point, by saying he’s not Puerto Rican cause he’s white? That’s a stupid ignorant statement!

Dee April 2, 2012 at 3:03 pm

Your the Dumb ass!!!! Dna studies show that 61% of all puerto ricans have amerindian genes, 27.5% african genes, leaving only 12% to europeans, bottom line is the majority of puerto rico has a colored population. And how could he be puerto rican if nobody else in his family is. Not his dad not his mom not his brothers or his sisters just him??yeah right… A birth certificate is just a peice of paper, I doubt he eats any puerto rican food dances to salsa speaks spanish like a puerto rican , does he know anything about puerto rican history?? Do you?? Does anybody realize that these people actually ARE tri-racial like there heritage says they are. So again whats a birth certificate to an actual bloodline??

marjanel December 21, 2014 at 10:34 pm

If you made that same test to “white Americans”, many woud have indigenous or black ancestry. Don´t talk about purity because Americans are not pure also.

neiltennant November 16, 2013 at 2:39 pm

RITA MORENO has spanish roots but due her family/ancestors migrated to south america hundred years ago

she is not the typical south american hispanic but 100 percent white

:-).com January 6, 2012 at 10:05 pm

well that makes no sense, he is puerto rican? His parents are german english and jewish? nice

andrew September 23, 2013 at 5:38 pm

he casually born in PR from hippy parents if i’m not wrong

jina October 1, 2011 at 11:38 pm

puerto rico is commonwealth state

jina October 1, 2011 at 11:39 pm

i know this is because i’m a quater puerto rican,italian, french-candian and domincan too

John September 20, 2011 at 8:17 am

Joaquin Phoenix is very much PUERTO RICAN!!! It’s on his birth certificate.

dee March 24, 2012 at 1:25 pm

yes but genetically he is not , most puerto ricans are mestizo or quadroon if not mulatto or african in which he is neither of those. He does not have any of the phenotypes of a puerto rican so he would stand out like a sore thumb .Puerto rico’s standard of white is different from that of the u.s so although on the census it would read that 80% percent consider themselves white, in the reality we live in,they are not. IN my opinion i believe they are mostly mulattoes and quadroons followed by white then mestizo and african being the minority .the reason i say this is because looking at puerto rican communities you see alot of black faces but not alot of black skin. think about it.

marjanel December 21, 2014 at 10:29 pm

Sorry but he can pass in Puerto Rico.

DeeDee May 31, 2011 at 10:39 pm

Excuse me but the comment, “born in Puerto Rico, but raised in the United States” is incorrect. The last time I checked, Puerto Rico was NOT an independent nation, but part of the U.S.

Richard Fiorello June 1, 2011 at 12:39 am

You do have a point, but try saying that to a puerto rican and they will cut your head off and feed it to the crows. they still believe in the seperation of one day that. That is why sometimes places and nationalities are important!

Prieta DPR September 7, 2011 at 7:22 am

Richard Fiorello: You tell a Puerto Rican what DeeDee said and you won’t get your head cut off!!! We don’t want Puerto Rico to be a state. Look at Hawaii!!!! Puerto Rico has had the opportunity to elect to be a State but it did not pass. We DON”T WANT TO BE A STATE!!! We don’t our heritage to be taken away to include our BEAUTIFUL FLAG!!!!

DeeDee May 31, 2011 at 10:37 pm

What is that comment, “born in Puerto Rico, but raised in the United States”? Excuse me, but Puerto Rico IS part of the United States. Last time I checked it was not an independent nation.

dan February 6, 2011 at 6:41 pm

and he’s white with blue eyes :)

pr May 16, 2010 at 11:02 pm

the phoenixes are not irish or spanish, but native american and WELSH. on the father’s side.

ethnic May 17, 2010 at 12:43 am

Do you have a reliable source for that?

L'italiano January 20, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Aspiring Musician

ethnic May 17, 2010 at 12:45 am

a bizarre move career move

kathleen March 27, 2011 at 5:10 pm

that was a hoax

ethnic January 16, 2010 at 12:34 am

That could be correct but genealogy is so complex.

VeRoni January 15, 2010 at 8:50 pm

so this makes him a quarter spanish & a quarter Irish & 50% Jewish

Melissy December 18, 2009 at 7:56 am

Great! glad i helped ! and glad you found a source! i also enjoy geneology.

ethnic September 22, 2009 at 12:23 pm

Melissy, thanks for the comment. I got a source for that.

Melissy September 22, 2009 at 5:00 am

i think i read somewhere his dad was spanish/irish

R0CKiN D0N'T H4T3 March 2, 2009 at 5:22 am


Al October 9, 2010 at 2:37 pm

a lot of people are of many different ethnic backgrounds who live in or were born in puerto rico. There are those of german, italian, polish, french, Jewish-Russian english, and of course spanish descent who live in and ARE puerto rican. So in that sense, Juaquin PhoeniX, being born in Puerto Rico and being of spanish and other ethnic descent is in fact Puerto Rican. Learn your geography and history….

Prieta DPR September 7, 2011 at 7:15 am

Excuse me!!! Just because you were born in Puerto Rico doesn’t mean you’re Puerto Rican. HELLO!!!! My nephew was born in Germany does that make him German? Hell NO!!! He does not have a drop of German in him!!! He is 100% Puerto Rican, both parents are Puerto Rican! You have to have some Puerto Rican Blood in order to say you a certain percentage Puerto Rican, and Joaquin does not have that!

John September 19, 2011 at 11:44 am

You are wrong. Anybody regardless of race and ethnicity born in Puerto Rico are Puerto Rican, that’s a fact. Joaquin Phoenix is PUERTO RICAN DEAL WITH IT!!! I assume your nephew was a military brat right? Any person born in a U.S. military base in Germany is a U.S. citizen. You don’t need to have German ancestry to be German and You don’t need to have Puerto Rican ancestry to be Puerto Rican. There’s a small population of Asian Puerto Ricans (mostly of Chinese descent).

Prieta DPR September 7, 2011 at 7:18 am

I agree with you ROCkin DON”T H4T3. He is not Puerto Rican. he does not have a drop of Puerto Rican in him. Just because he was born there dosent make him Puerto Rican. Sorry!!!

Cryo Beary September 7, 2011 at 10:39 pm

How can you have “Puerto Rican” in you? It is a culture and nationality first and foremost. It is not a race. The lot of you sound like a bunch of idiots.

ethnic February 12, 2009 at 11:09 am

Hey Richard. thanks for the post. i agree genealogy is a fascinating subject. its also a good way at looking at how diverse we are.


Richard February 12, 2009 at 6:45 am

Let’s face it, who doesn’t like hearing about celebraties? Combine that with my favourite subject, genealogy, and you’re on to a winner! I had no idea he was Puerto Rican.

Prieta DPR September 7, 2011 at 7:16 am

He is NOT Puerto Rican!!!!

John September 19, 2011 at 11:46 am

Joaquin Phoenix is every much PUERTO RICAN!!! It’s on his birth certificate.

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