PopMatters. Featured in "Rest In Pieces" series. Tenth most popular article on PopMatters for its publication period.
From the moment that he appeared on screen in the film—with a cigarette balanced between his fingers and the close-cropped haircut of a little boy—media outlets had him pegged as the James Dean of the ‘80s.
River Phoenix was an actor.
People don’t talk much about him anymore. His name mostly pops up when someone young and beautiful dies. These days, he’s mostly famous for dying.
River Phoenix, however, was an actor, too. In 1993, he died, but just seven years earlier, at the age of 16, he grabbed the attention of the world. . . .
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