About this Famous Person
American film actor, musician, and teen icon
Source : Tim DOWLING
Phoenix was born as River Jude Bottom, in Madras, Oregon, the first child of Arlyn Sharon Dunetz and John Lee Bottom. Phoenix's parents named him after the river of life from the Hermann Hesse novel Siddhartha, and he received his middle name from The Beatles' song "Hey Jude".
In an interview with People, Phoenix described his parents as "hippieish". His mother was born in The Bronx, New York, to Jewish parents whose families had emigrated from Russia and Hungary. His father was a lapsed Catholic from Fontana, California. In 1968, Phoenix's mother left her family in New York City and travelled across the United States, meeting John Lee Bottom while hitchhiking in northern California. They married on September 13, 1969, less than one year after meeting. In 1973, the family joined a religious cult called the Children of God as missionaries. While living in Crockett, Texas, their second child Rain Joan of Arc Bottom was born on November 21, 1972. Their third child was born on October 28, 1974, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, as Joaquin Rafael Bottom.
On July 5, 1976, Phoenix's sister Libertad Mariposa Bottom was born, after the family had settled in Caracas, Venezuela, where the Children of God had stationed them to work as missionaries and fruit gatherers. Although John Bottom was later designated the cult's "Archbishop of Venezuela and the Caribbean", their family received no financial support from the group and lived in poverty. Phoenix often played guitar while he and Rain sang on street corners for money and food to support their ever-growing family. Arlyn and John eventually grew disillusioned with the Children of God; Arlyn would later tell a journalist that she and her husband were opposed to the cult's practice of Flirty Fishing, stating: "The group was being distorted by the leader, David Berg, who was getting powerful and wealthy. He sought to attract rich disciples through sex. No way." Fearing the cult was moving in a negative direction, the Bottom family left the group and stayed for a period with a church in Venezuela. It was during the last years in South America that the entire Phoenix family converted to veganism, encouraged by River and Joaquin, who had witnessed local fishermen's methods of killing their catch.
The family eventually made the trip back to the United States by stowing away on a cargo ship. Upon their return, they moved in with Phoenix's maternal grandparents in Florida. On December 29, 1977, Summer Joy Bottom was born in Winter Park, Florida. On April 2, 1979, the family officially changed their name to Phoenix, after the mythical bird that rises from its own ashes, symbolizing a new beginning.