An enormously gifted actor who epitomized the self-destructive soul of a generation, River Phoenix was the eldest son of a family of artistic souls who spent their formative years as penniless Children of God cult members. Marked by immense physical beauty, sensitivity and a social consciousness well beyond his years, Phoenix made his film debut in Joe Dante's childhood fantasy "Explorers" (1985) before breaking out as the streetwise but kindhearted Chris Chambers in Rob Reiner's beloved coming-of-age drama "Stand by Me" (1986). A string of high-profile roles followed, including Harrison Ford's eldest son in "The Mosquito Coast" (1986), a social-climbing teen in "A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon" (1988) and the son of Soviet spies being hunted by Sidney Poitier in "Little Nikita" (1988). Earning an Oscar nomination as the son of fugitive radicals in "Running on Empty" (1988), Phoenix also played the teenaged version of the famed archeologist in "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade" (1989) and wowed critics with his Independent Spirit Award-winning turn as a gay hustler in Gus Van Sant's "My Own Private Idaho" (1991). Famous for his activism on behalf of animal rights and environmental causes, the devoted vegan struggled privately with drug addiction while publicly courting actresses Martha Plimpton and Samantha Mathis; the latter starring with Phoenix in his final film, "The Thing Called Love" (1993). Tragically, in the early morning hours of Oct. 31, 1993, River Phoenix died of a massive drug overdose outside of Johnny Depp's Sunset Strip nightclub, The Viper Room. Although the collective decision made by his family and friends to never publicly discuss him limited younger generations' knowledge of his impressive cultural legacy, River Phoenix left behind a body of work and scale of artistic potential that marked him as the greatest actor of his generation; a figure whose untimely death signaled a turning point for an already disillusioned Generation X.