John Lee Bottom was an American social activist and philanthropist. He was born on April 5, 1947, in California, United States. He was the father of famous actors River Phoenix, Joaquin Phoenix, Rain Phoenix, and Summer Phoenix.
In today’s post, we will set the center lens on life, achievements, and everything translating to details about John Lee Bottom. Have a glimpse of his profile summary below.
John Lee Bottom’s Profile
|John Lee Bottom
|Date of birth
|April 5, 1947
|Place of birth
|Robert Merril Bottom
|Beulah Ernestine Ingram
|Arlyn Sharon (1969 – 1997)
|River Phoenix’s and Joaquin Phoenix’s father
John Lee Bottom’s Early life
John Lee Bottom was born on April 5, 1947, in Stanislaus County, California, United States. His parents were Robert Merril Bottom and Beulah Ernestine. He was the eldest of five children and had to help care for his siblings from a young age. Despite his unconventional upbringing, he was an intelligent and ambitious young man determined to make something of himself.
While there is no public record of John’s educational background, it is speculated that he obtained a high school education. John changed his surname from Bottom to Pheonix after exiting a cult group, “The Children of God.”
John Lee Bottom’s Career
John Lee Bottom was born and raised in a poor neighborhood in Fontana, California. His family’s financial struggles made it impossible for them to afford his education, eventually leading John to drop out. To make ends meet, he took up various jobs, including working as a gardener and a carpenter.
In 1973, searching for a sense of belonging and purpose, he joined the Children of God cult. Over time, he proved his dedication and commitment to the organization, which enabled him to rise through the ranks and eventually attain the position of Archbishop.
John Lee Bottom became involved in various social and political causes. He was a vocal advocate for civil rights, environmentalism, and peace activism. He participated in numerous protests and rallies, including the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963, where he witnessed Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.
In the early 1970s, John Lee Bottom moved to South America, where he spent several years living and working among indigenous tribes. During this time, he became increasingly interested in indigenous culture and spirituality and became a committed advocate for indigenous rights.
John Lee Bottom’s Marriage
To avoid being drafted into the U.S. army during the Vietnam War, which spanned from November 1, 1955, to April 30, 1975, John Lee Bottom left Jodean Bottom and her mother for Canada. The government conscripted men born between January 1, 1944, and December 31, 1950, and John, 18, fell within this age bracket.
In September 1969, John Lee Bottom met Arlyn Phoenix in California, and their lives took a new direction. The couple married on September 13, 1969, and embarked on a journey together as members of the Children of God cult. They eventually settled at the organization’s headquarters in Crockett, Texas.
John and Arlyn traveled extensively as devoted missionaries, spreading their faith throughout Mexico, South America, and the United States. For a period, they adopted the names Jochebed for Arlyn and Amram for John to carry out their evangelism work more effectively.
The couple was married for 27 years before divorcing in 1997. The exact reason for their separation remains unknown. Throughout their marriage, John and Arlyn had five children, who have all made their mark in various fields:
- River Phoenix (actor and musician)
- Rain Phoenix (actress, musician, and singer)
- Joaquin Phoenix (actor and producer)
- Liberty Phoenix (actress and entrepreneur)
- Summer Phoenix (actress and model)
The lives of John Lee Bottom and Arlyn Phoenix serve as a testament to their commitment to their faith and family, even as they faced the challenges of their time.
How old was John Lee Bottom when he died?
John passed away at 68 in 2015 following a battle with cancer. His legacy lives on through his children, who have all grown up to become successful actors and social activists in their own right.
John Lee Bottom’s Achievements
After returning to the United States in the late 1970s, John Lee Bottom settled in California and continued his involvement in social activism. He was a passionate advocate for animal rights and worked closely with several animal welfare organizations. He also founded the Children’s Health Fund, a non-profit organization that provides medical care to underserved children in the United States.
John Lee Bottom’s Children’s Achievements
John Lee Bottom may not have been well-known for his career, but his children brought him fame. His son, Joaquin Phoenix, and his late brother River Phoenix made their acting debut in early 1980s television shows.
Joaquin Phoenix, born October 28, 1974, initially known as Leaf Phoenix, gained recognition for his roles in SpaceCamp (1986) and Parenthood (1989). He reverted to his birth name in the 1990s and earned praise for performances in To Die For (1995) and Quills (2000). His role as Commodus in Gladiator (2000) earned him an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Besides acting, Joaquin is a passionate advocate for humanitarian causes and has produced documentaries and engaged in charitable efforts.
Age: 49 years old.
River Phoenix was a gifted actor, musician, and activist who gained fame with roles in films like Stand by Me, Running on Empty, and My Own Private Idaho. An Oscar nominee and environmental advocate, River’s life was tragically cut short at 23 due to a drug overdose. His legacy of talent and activism at PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) continues to inspire future generations.
Rain Phoenix, a multifaceted American actress, musician, and singer, was born November 21, 1972. Known for her roles in film and television and her involvement in the band Aleka’s Attic with her late brother River, Rain has also advocated for social and environmental causes. She married Michael Tubbs from 2003 to 2008 and has a son named Jonas Winter Phoenix.
Age: 51 years old.
Summer Phoenix, the youngest of the Phoenix siblings, was born on December 10, 1978. As an accomplished actress and model, Summer has made a name for herself in independent films and mainstream cinema. Her notable roles in films like The Faculty (1998) and The Believer (2001) have showcased her talent and versatility. In addition to her acting career, Summer is also a dedicated advocate for animal rights and environmental causes, continuing the Phoenix family’s legacy of activism and social consciousness.
Age: 45 years old.
Liberty Phoenix, born on July 5, 1976, is an American actress and entrepreneur. Though she began her career as a child actor with TV series and movie appearances, Liberty later shifted her focus to entrepreneurship. As a co-founder of the eco-friendly “Indigo Green Store,” Liberty has demonstrated her passion for environmental sustainability. Her dedication to social and ecological causes embodies the Phoenix family’s commitment to making a difference.
Age: 47 years old.
Jodean Bottom, born 29th February 1964, is the half-sister of Joaquin Phoenix and River Phoenix. Her father abandoned her after an illicit affair with her mother. She’s also the half-sister to Liberty Phoenix, Summer Phoenix, and Rain Phoenix. Jodean Bottom was born from John Lee’s relationship with Trinity.
Age: 60 years old.
Scandals, Rumors, And Controversies about John Lee Bottom
John Bottom and his wife Arlyn joined the controversial religious cult, “The Children of God,” in 1973. The group was notorious for its unconventional and controversial practices, such as “Flirty Fishing,” which encouraged female members to use sex to attract potential converts.
A turning point came when John’s first child, River, was sexually assaulted by a cult member. This horrifying incident made John and Arlyn question their group involvement. By 1977, they had lost faith in the cult and decided to leave. After their departure, Arlyn openly spoke out against the cult’s practices, particularly condemning the practice of Flirty Fishing, which both she and John found morally reprehensible.
In a daring escape, the couple and their children left the cult’s headquarters on a freighter filled with trolleys, which took them to Englewood, Florida. There, they temporarily lived with Arlyn’s parents before moving to Winter Park, Florida, where they started a new life outside the confines of the cult. Their decision to leave the Children of God marked a new beginning for the family, who changed their surname from Bottom to Pheonix and forged successful careers and lives despite their traumatic past.
John Lee Bottom Spouse
John Lee’s marital life consists of an affair with Trinity, which gave birth to Jordan Bottom, and a marriage to Arlyn Sharom, giving birth to five children. Trinity stayed away from the media, so little is known about her. Arlyn re-married another man called Jeffrey Weisberg. Let’s take a closer look at her.
Arlyn Sharon Phoenix (nee Dunetz) was born on December 31, 1994, in the Bronx, New York, to Jewish parents Margaret and Meyer Dunetz, also known as Heart Phoenix. She has two sisters, Rhoda and Merle. In 1968, she moved from New York to California and married John Lee Bottom. She was an executive secretary at NBC and Executive Director of The Florida School of Traditional Midwifery. Arlyn later established the River Phoenix Centre for Peacebuilding with her second husband, Jeffery Weisberg, in honor of her eldest son, River Phoenix.
John Lee and Jodean Bottom
Before marrying Arlyn Sharon, John Lee Bottom had an affair with a woman named Trinity, resulting in Jodean Bottom’s birth. Jodean’s existence remained a secret from John’s family for many years. It wasn’t until a close friend revealed the truth that the Phoenix family discovered they had another sibling.
Upon learning about Jodean, River Phoenix, John’s son from his marriage to Arlyn, took it upon himself to track down his long-lost sister. Demonstrating incredible compassion and responsibility, River found Jodean and assumed full responsibility for her and her daughter. This pivotal moment in their lives marked the beginning of a strong and loving relationship between Jodean and her half-siblings.
The Phoenix family’s journey to uncover their hidden past is a testament to the strength of family bonds and the power of love and acceptance. Despite the initial secrecy surrounding Jodean’s existence, the family’s ability to embrace and include her has only enriched their relationships and provided a supportive environment for Jodean and her daughter to grow and thrive.
John Lee Bottom may not have been a well-known figure in his own right. Still, he played an important role in the lives of his children, including the late River Phoenix and Joaquin Phoenix, who achieved notable success in the entertainment industry. Although controversies surrounded his affiliation with a controversial religious cult, he ultimately left the group, and his family went on to find success and contribute to various humanitarian causes.