What Was River Phoenix’s Birth Name?

River Bottom.

Yes, really. The family’s original surname was Bottom, and his parents named him River after the river in Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha.

And that’s not all. He was born in a log cabin in Oregon.

“River Bottom was born in a log cabin in Oregon.” Sounds like the first line of a long-forgotten 19th-century American novel, doesn’t it?

Which do you think is worse, River Bottom or Cole Sellar?

P.S. River’s middle name, Jude, came from the Beatles song “Hey Jude.”

Source: Wake, Jacqueline. “Face of the Day.” Herald [Glasgow] 20 Jul. 2000: 40.


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