Who is Summer Phoenix?
Born on 10th December 1978, in Winter Park, Florida, USA, Summer Phoenix is the older sister of Joaquin and River Phoenix, and also known for being married to Ben Affleck’s brother Casey for over a decade. The brunette is 5ft 6in (1.70m) tall and weighs about 122lbs (56kgs).
It’s not known how Summer’s parents, Arlyn Sharon and John Lee Bottom, met. Arlyn was born in New York, with her parents being Jewish immigrants of Russian and Hungarian descent, while John was a Californian native with German and French roots.
Living an eccentric lifestyle, Arlyn and John traveled along the West Coast and lived off the fruits and vegetables they picked on their journeys. In August 1970, their first son, River, was born, followed two years later by their first daughter Rain. The family then joined “The Children of God”, a religious cult which has been plagued by child abuse lawsuits over the years, and toured Puerto Rico, South America, and Mexico to work as missionaries. During this time, Joaquin and Liberty were born, and Arlyn and John renamed themselves as Jochebed and Amram.
Arlyn and Joe left the Children of God group in 1977 due to the cult’s bizarre rules and practices which included “flirty fishing”.
Female members of the group would often have sex with male outsiders in exchange for donations; the cult defended the practice, which has been branded “religious prostitution”, as a way of evangelism, but eventually stopped when sexually transmitted diseases spread through its members.
Once more adopting their birth names, Arlyn and Joe moved back to Winter Park, and had their last child together. They also adopted the surname Phoenix and switched to a vegan diet and lifestyle. Arlyn began working as an executive secretary, and hired acting agent Iris Burton to make her children successful. She also worked as the executive director of the Florida School of Traditional Midwifery for half a decade.
Early Career & Education
From just six years old, Summer began working as a child actress along with her older siblings. Following guest appearances in episodes of “Airwolf” and “Murder, She Wrote”, she took a two-year hiatus before appearing in TV movies “Taking It Home” and “Kate’s Secret”, then in 1987, she also appeared in her first movie, “Russkies”.
However, Summer’s career didn’t take off in the same way as her older brothers’. River became particularly famous during the mid-‘80s, transitioning from child star to famous actor while his siblings were relegated to smaller roles.
Dropping out of the prestigious Tisch School of the Arts before graduating, Summer continued to pursue her career in film.
In October 1993, River returned to Los Angeles after having spent a week in New Mexico. He had recently finished recording the interior scenes on his last project, “Dark Blood”, spending almost two months in Utah.
On October 30th, Phoenix was invited to perform with his band at the Hollywood nightclub “The Viper Room”, which was partly-owned by “Pirates of the Caribbean” star Johnny Depp. River arrived at the club with John Frusciante from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, one of the band members, and met up with his siblings Joaquin and Rain and his girlfriend at the time, Samantha Mathis.
According to first-hand sources, the group immediately began taking cocaine. During the group performance, River tapped one of the members on the shoulder and told him he didn’t feel well and thought he’d overdosed. Moments later, River exited the nightclub, and was found lying on the ground and having seizures. Rain proceeded to give her brother mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, while Joaquin called 911.
When paramedics arrived on the scene, they found River in full cardiac arrest and turning cyanotic. In an attempt to restart his heart, they administered medication, and River was taken to Cerdars-Sinai Medical Center. Sadly, the hospital’s efforts to resuscitate the young star were unsuccessful, and he was pronounced dead at just 23 years old.
The death of River shocked the world, with fans leaving pictures, flowers, candles, and graffiti outside the club. The Viper Room closed for a week, and Johnny continued to close the club every year on Halloween until 2004, when he sold his share.
According to a November autopsy report, the cause of death was “acute multiple drug intoxication”, as there were high concentrations of cocaine and morphine in River’s blood.
The Phoenix family never pressed charges against anyone for their son’s death, although River’s father is quoted as saying about John Frusciante: “If I find him, I’m going to kill him. He’s very rich and very young, 23 like River, but he’s a terrible addict who’s become a pusher…”.
On Christmas Day 2003, the actress opened a vintage clothing boutique on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, and became engaged to Casey Affleck. Months later, she gave birth to the couple’s first son, Indiana August, who was born in Amsterdam.
Finally, Summer and Casey married in Savannah, Georgia, on June 3rd 2006. Their second son Atticus was born in January 2008, completing the family as the happy foursome settled down into a tranquil lifestyle. However, they separated in November 2015 for unknown reasons, and publicly announced the news four months later.
Citing “irreconcilable differences” when petitioning for divorce with the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles, both became officially single in August 2017. Since then, Summer hasn’t been publicly seen with anyone, and it’s thought that she’s taking time off the dating scene to focus on her sons.
Even before shocking the world with separation news, Summer and Casey seemingly perfect marriage wasn’t without its scandals: in 2010, two women on the crew of “I’m Still Here” accused Casey and Joaquin of behaving inappropriately towards them. At the time, both actors were practically best friends, and the lawsuit accused them of using their hotel room for illicit activities. The controversy led to the two actors falling out.
Despite never making it big in Hollywood, Summer has had a fulfilling career with successful roles in early-2000s movies such as “Dinner Rush” and “The Believer”. Reliable sources estimate that her net worth is $600,000 thanks largely to her movie work; sadly, the actress can no longer count her boutique as one of her sources of revenue, as it closed in 2012.