What did John Belushi, Chris Farley and Mitch Hedberg have in common? They were all hilarious. But sadly, this is not all they had in common. They each died from a powerful combination of cocaine and heroin, called a “speedball”. The speedball is notorious for taking the lives of Hollywood personalities. One young Hollywood personality that succumbed to the speedball was River Phoenix, who at the time of his death was only 23.
Who is River Phoenix?
Remember that awesome opening scene of “Indiana Jones and Last Crusade” (or as I like to call it, “Indiana Jones and his last good movie”)? River Phoenix played a young Indy, who was just as adventurous and troublesome as his older counterpart, played of course by Harrison Ford. He had also been featured in films like 1985’s “Explorers”, 1986’s “Stand By Me”, and 1988’s “A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon”.
Phoenix was not known for drug use at the time of his death. One the night of October 30, 1993, however, that changed. While partying with his brother, fellow actor Joaqin Phoenix at Johnny Depp’s famous Hollywood club, “The Viper Room”, Phoenix took lethal doses of a speedball and collapsed outside of the club. Paramedics attempted to resuscitate Phoenix, but attempts were unsuccessful.
Many times drugs affect people and celebrities long term, and we have time to deal with these issues. Other times, drug uses effects can be quick and tragic. In all cases however, drug use can destroy people’s potential, as it did for Phoenix. Also, we never see what happens behind closed doors, so it is important to realize when someone needs help. Illegal drug use is an awful thing, but with the right care and responsibility, stories don’t have to be like River Phoenix’s.