Joaquín Phoenix

Alan C. Heison /

Birth Name: Joaquín Rafael Bottom

Place of Birth: San Juan, Puerto Rico

Date of Birth: October 28, 1974

*father – English, with some Scottish, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, German, Irish, Welsh, and French Huguenot
*mother – Ashkenazi Jewish

Joaquín Phoenix, previously also credited as Leaf Phoenix, is an American actor, musician, producer, music video director, and activist. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor for Joker (2019). Known for his dramatic roles and dark characters, his other films include SpaceCamp, Russkies, Parenthood (1989), To Die For, Return to Paradise, Clay Pigeons, 8mm, Gladiator, Quills, Buffalo Soldiers, Signs, Brother Bear, The Village, Ladder 49, Hotel Rwanda, Walk the Line, We Own the Night, Reservation Road, Two Lovers, The Master, The Immigrant, Her, Inherent Vice, Irrational Man, You Were Never Really Here, Mary Magdalene, The Sisters Brothers, C’mon C’mon, Beau Is Afraid, and Napoleon (2023). He is a vegan, and an animal rights activist. He has produced documentaries on global meat consumption, and its resulting environmental impact.

Joaquín was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to parents from the continental United States. He is the son of John Phoenix (born Johnny Lee Bottom), from California, and Arlyn Phoenix (born Arlyn Dunetz), a social activist, from New York. Joaquín’s father is of English, along with Scottish, Scots-Irish/Northern Irish, German, Irish, Welsh, and French Huguenot, ancestry. Joaquín’s mother is Jewish; half of her family are Russian Jews and the other half are Hungarian Jews.

Joaquín is the brother of late actor River Phoenix, as well as actresses Rain Phoenix, Liberty Phoenix, and Summer Phoenix. Joaquín has a son with his fiancée, actress Rooney Mara.

In the early 1970s, his parents joined the religious group Children of God, and lived with the group in Caracas, Venezuela; Mexico, and Puerto Rico. They left the Children of God by the late 1970s, settling back with Joaquín’s maternal grandparents in Florida, before moving to Los Angeles, California. Joaquín 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 patrilineal line can be traced to John Bottom, who was born, c. 1598, in Archers Hoop, Malmsbury, England, and to his wife Elizabeth.

Joaquín’s paternal grandfather was Ehlia/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 “Dee” Bottom and Rachel Ann Bolling/Bowling. Cordelia was the daughter of David Houston Matherly and Sarah Frances “Sally” Purdom.

Joaquín’s paternal grandmother was Beulah Ernestine Ingram (the daughter of Robert Lee Ingram and Mary Elizabeth “Lizzie” Leidy/Lydie). Beulah was born in Missouri. Robert was the son of Robert T. Ingram and Ellen L. Curry. 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/Libby “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/Jenat Lefkowitz and Marija/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/Amalia/Mali Frankel.

Sources: Genealogies of Joaquín Phoenix –

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

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

Joaquín’s great-uncle (maternal grandfather’s brother) 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 –


Curious about ethnicity

43 Responses

  1. Dar says:

    Add the tag Puerto Rican Jewish

  2. italiano90 says:

    He always reminded me of Ray Liotta.

  3. andrew says:

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

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