photo by Alan Light
Birth Name: River Jude Bottom
Date of Birth: August 23, 1970
Place of Birth: Madras, Oregon, United States
Date of Death: October 31, 1993
Place of Death: West Hollywood, California, United States
*English, along with German, distant French Huguenot (father)
*Ashkenazi Jewish (mother)
River Phoenix was an American actor, musician, and activist. He is known for his roles in the films Stand by Me, Running on Empty, and My Own Private Idaho. He was the brother of actors Rain Phoenix, Joaquin Phoenix, Liberty Phoenix, and Summer Phoenix.
River was the son of Arlyn Phoenix (born Arlyn Dunetz), a social activist, and John Phoenix (born Johnny Lee Bottom). River’s mother is Jewish; half of her family are Russian Jews and the other half are Hungarian Jews. River’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. At one point, River’s parents joined the religious group Children of God, which they later left.
River’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.
River’s paternal grandmother was Beulah Ernestine Ingram (the daughter of Robert Lee Ingram and Mary Elizabeth Leach or 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.
River’s maternal grandfather was Meyer Dunetz (the son of Samuel Dunetz and Libbe 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.
River’s maternal grandmother was Margaret Lefkowitz (the daughter of Ignatz Lefkowitz and Mary Beck). Margaret was born in New York, the daughter of Hungarian Jewish immigrants. Ignatz was the son of Herman Lefkowitz and Rose Greenwald. Mary was the daughter of Ignatz Beck and Maly Frankel.
Genealogy of River’s paternal grandfather, Robert Merrill Bottom – http://worldconnect.rootsweb.ancestry.com
River’s uncle (father’s brother), Phillip Bottom, on the 1940 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
River’s paternal grandmother, Beulah Ernestine Ingram, on the 1930 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
River’s great-uncle (maternal grandfather’s brother), Bernard Dunetz, on the 1940 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org
River’s maternal grandmother, Margaret Lefkowitz, on the 1920 U.S. Census – https://familysearch.org