John Lee Bottom

John Lee Bottom Bio, Age, Wife, Children, Networth, Death And The Father Behind The Phoenix Family’s Tragic Journey

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John Lee Bottom, known as John Phoenix, is best known for being the father of Oscar-winning actor Joaquin Phoenix and River Phoenix, a deceased actor and singer. Lee Bottom founded a landscaping company. He was Catholic.  His wife and he were active in “The Children of God” Christian humanitarian movement for most of their marriage.

John Lee Bottom was a small-town man whose kids became famous through hard effort. Now he is known by their names. The spiritual group they followed supported illegal acts, and their kid was a victim. After leaving the town and city, the family changed their surname to “Phoenix” after the mythical bird that rises from ashes, symbolizing their fresh beginning.

Overview of John Lee Bottom

Full name John Lee Bottom
Famous nameJohn Phoenix
Birth date April 5th, 1947
BirthplaceStanislaus County, California, United States
Age68 years old 
FatherRobert Merrill Bottom
MotherBeulah Ingram
Marital statusDivorced
Ex-wifeArlyn Phoenix
Children6 (River, Jodean, Liberty, Joaquin, Rain, and Summer)
Famous ForBeing Joaquin Phoenix’s father
Eye colorHazel
Hair colorBrown
Height5 ft 6 in
Body Measurements36-28-34 inches
ProfessionCelebrity Father
Networth $50 million
Source of WealthChildren Income


Google has well-covered John Lee Bottom

Robbie Bottom (1917-1993) and Beulah Ernestine Ingram (1918-1980) had John Lee Bottom in 1947 in Stanislaus County, California.  

John Lee Bottom had a fascinating life. He was married, a father, and a cultist. In California, he met Arlyn Phoenix, whom he married on September 13, 1969. Later, they became missionaries and traveled the world to promote their message. However, they eventually discovered that their group supported adult-minor sex and group sex. Their son River was sexually molested as a child. After leaving the cult, they went to Winterpark, Florida, with their children and changed their surname to Phoenix.

Early Phoenix Family Life

John Lee Bottom family

The Phoenix family is famous in entertainment. It has Rain, Joaquin, Liberty, Summer, and River Phoenix siblings. World-traveling Children of God family. His parents quit the organization and changed their name to Phoenix when John Lee Bottom was three.

John Lee Bottom Education

John Lee Bottom dropped out of school to work due to his stressful lifestyle. John was skilled with his hands. Thus, he became a gardener.

His unease prevented him from staying long in that region. He traveled instead of staying. He traveled randomly to almost every place he could. Additionally, everything in his life was a blessing.

John Lee Bottom’s Early Career

Joaquin Phoenix’s father, John Lee Bottom, began performing at eight years old. He never became an actor and lived a quiet life. John has concealed his career. However, some records say he was a carpenter. His professional experience was unknown elsewhere.

But Joaquin and River started doing advertisements. In 1982, they debuted on Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. The 1984 ABC Afterschool Special about dyslexia featured them. Due to their exceptional skills, they became famous.

Other shows where Leaf made cameos were Hill Street Blues, Murder, She Wrote, and Morningstar/Eveningstar. Even though John never had a Wikipedia page, his Wiki is available elsewhere.

John Lee Bottom’s Wife

Arlyn Phoenix: John Lee Bottom’s Wife

John Lee Bottom has a life outside of his kids’ fame. He was married to his beloved Arlyn Phoenix for years. She was born in New York on 31 December 1944. California stars began jingling when they started dating. John wasn’t famous before his kids. Arlyn and John married on September 13, 1969. The wedding was private in a modest church.

They became Christian missionaries immediately after marrying. They traveled to Mexico, South America, and other countries to recruit more people. The couple were Christians. They briefly used Jochebeb (Arlyn) and Amram (John). They found that the groups supported adult-to-adult and group-to-group sex.

Their son River was sexually raped by the organization as a child. Four children were conceived at the time. They fled the spiritual cult and moved to America with their kids. Winterpark, Florida, became their home. Phoenix became their official name after that. He dated a girl before dating Arlyn. The identity of his lover remains unknown.

John Lee Bottom Children

Photos Of The Phoenix Family

John Lee Bottom has 6 children. Actress and singer Rain Phoenix is his daughter. Texas was her birthplace on November 21, 1972. ‘Amazing Stories,’ ‘Low Down,’ ‘Forever,’ and ‘Violet’ are among her film credits. 

Phoenix is a famous actor and producer. He appeared in ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Joker.’ His birthdate is 28 October 1974 in San Juan, Puerto Rico.  At age 3, his parents abandoned that religious sect. His acting career began at eight. Her longtime companion is actress Rooney Mara. 

Liberty Phoenix acted before. She was born in Caracas, Venezuela, on July 5, 1976. She appeared in ‘Kate’s Secret,’ ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers’ and others. She left acting to pursue other projects. 

Summer Phoenix, his youngest daughter, acts, models, and designs. After fleeing that religious group, she was born in Winter Park, Florida, on December 10, 1978.  Her acting career began at two. She’s appeared in Dinner Rush, The Believer, Suzie Gold, and others.

Their Son Died

Actress and singer Rain Phoenix is his daughter. Texas was her birthplace on November 21, 1972. ‘Amazing Stories,’ ‘Low Down,’ ‘Forever,’ and ‘Violet’ are among her film credits. Phoenix is a talented performer and producer. He is most known for ‘Gladiator’ and ‘Joker.’ San Juan, Puerto Rico, was his birthplace on October 28, 1974.

He was three years old when his parents left the religious group. His performance career began at age 8. Rooney Mara is her longtime girlfriend. Former actor Liberty Phoenix. July 5, 1976, was her birthdate in Caracas, Venezuela. She appeared in ‘Kate’s Secret,’ ‘Seven Brides for Seven Brothers,’ and others. She quit acting to pursue other projects. Summer Phoenix, his youngest daughter, acts, models, and designs. After leaving the religious sect, Rooney was born in Winter Park, Florida, on December 10, 1978. Her performance career began at two. She appeared in Dinner Rush, The Believer, Suzie Gold, and others.

His Oldest Son River’s Terrible Death

John Lee with his son River Phoenix

His oldest son fell into self-destructive drug addiction and died after obtaining an Academy Award nomination in 1989.  On Halloween night 1993, River overdosed outside The Viper Room in L.A. Aged 23.  Morphine and cocaine were found in significant amounts in the blood, along with other drugs.

According to an Inside Edition interview with a close member of the River and Phoenix family, River had a clean image as a vegetarian and timid private person but was a health contradiction. Drug addiction also affected his demeanor. 

River’s then-wife Arlyn (Heart Phoenix) issued an open letter to the Los Angeles Times declaring he never used drugs or went to clubs.  According to her, her son River, who had the world at his fingertips to listen, was frustrated that no one heard. On the Micanopy, Florida family ranch, River’s cremated remains were dispersed.

He worried that fame would devour his children.

John Lee Bottom with children and grandchildren.

River’s appearance in “A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon” was opposed by Lee Bottom, who feared showbiz would damage his children. River stated in an interview that his father did not want them to become materialistic and lose their beliefs. 

Lee Bottom said he told River he wanted him out of films because he had seen too many talented kids fail and realized his son could not battle the system.  He tried to convince him and his children to assist him in operating his vegan restaurant so they could cook, do music, and pick organic fruit again.  Lee Bottom remembered River telling him before departing that he would meet him after the movie. He thought about River’s death every day and asked why.

After Nearly Three Decades of Marriage: A Divorce Story

Lee Bottom and Arlyn shared nearly three decades of marital bliss, but sadly, they eventually made the difficult decision to part ways. Their divorce was finalized in 1997. Following the divorce, Lee chose to step out of the spotlight and embarked on a career as a carpenter, where he worked diligently for many years.

On the other hand, Arlyn, his former spouse, moved forward and found love again. She is now happily married to her third husband, Jeffrey Weisberg, whom she wed in 2001. However, life had its challenges for Lee. He faced a long and brave battle against cancer, showing immense resilience throughout his fight.”

John Lee Bottom Death and Cause 

After years of bravely fighting cancer, John Lee Bottom died in 2015, devastating the Bottom family. John’s children and loved ones shared heartbreaking anecdotes and memories of the adored father of five after his death. John’s obituary featured poignant references to his remarkable fatherhood and unwavering dedication to his children.

These stories beautifully encapsulate the essence of John Lee Bottom, a loving father whose legacy lives on through the memories and love he left behind.”

Dad and brother helped Joaquin become an actor

Lee Bottom and his brother helped Joaquin succeed in acting. A touching tribute, he recalls his older brother River coming home from work and forcing him to watch “Raging Bull” on VHS. 

The next morning, he made him watch again, promising to act again.  He never asked but told him he would. Due to his older brother, he said.  He complimented his dad for teaching him the best work ethic and joked that he was the best mother*cker he had ever met.

Joaquin reduced 52 kilos for his Joker masterpiece.

Joaquin Phoenix on Playing Joker and Exclusive Outtake

Phoenix became 52 kg lighter for his Oscar-winning role in Joker. His 52-pound weight loss was medically supervised, he told Access Hollywood.  Before working with a safe, disciplined doctor, he did it. The writing gave him mixed sentiments about the character, and he started to parent for it, which tested him, he said. When on Jimmy Kimmel Live, he said losing weight was hard but empowering to have that control. 

First, it was exhausting. He looked at the steps and stated, “I can do this,” after 30 seconds of thought and self-talk. I’m capable.  After attaining his goal, he would be energized but unsure how. Described as outstanding. 

Joaquin Phoenix and John Lee Bottom’s ex-wife

His reason for not socializing was that he needed food and drink, and he couldn’t watch TV because of the food ads. He also discussed the drastic weight loss’s effects.  Managed weight loss affects a person’s psychology, he noted in an interview. Someone went nuts, he said. 

Since he lost a lot of weight, he got compulsive over food and weight and avoided social engagements since he was too tired to climb stairs. At the 2020 92nd Oscars, Phoenix won best actor for Joker. Four nominations and his first Oscar. His acceptance speech recalled his late brother River.  Run to the rescue with love and peace will follow, he wrote when his brother was 17.  Honouring River nearly brought Phoenix to tears.

Awards and Career Success

Name of the movieBudgetBox Office 
The Master32 million28.3 million
Joker55-70 million1.073 billion
Gladiator103 million460.5 million

His hard work and determination have helped him succeed, and in 2020, he won the Oscar for Best Actor for his role in “Joker.” This was significant because he had been nominated twice in the same category but had not won till then.

Box Office Hits:

Let’s examine his most successful films’ budgets and box office earnings:

“The Master”

He played Freddie Quell in “The Master.” This film cost 32 million dollars to make but made 28.3 million.


In the psychological thriller “Joker,” he played the famous Arthur Fleck. This picture made 1.073 billion dollars at the box office on a 55-70 million-dollar budget.


His performance as Commodus in the Oscar-nominated historical drama “Gladiator” was highly lauded by fans. The picture grossed 460.5 million dollars despite a 103 million dollar budget.

These achievements prove his brilliance and perseverance, cementing his status as a recognized actor.

Scandals, rumors, and controversies

John Bottom and his wife Arlyn were members of “The Children of God,” a controversial religious sect. This group included the couple in 1973. The cult’s “Flirty Fishing” guidelines were widely discussed.

John and Arlyn left the Children of God in 1977. They lost faith in the organization when they were uncomfortable with its unorthodox rituals, including “flirty fishing.”

Arlyn said she and her husband objected to the cult’s practices, especially using flirting to recruit or influence. Their departure from the controversial Children of God doctrines and practices changed their lives.

John Lee Bottom’s Instagram and Social Media Presence

John Lee Bottom, the father of Joaquin, passed away in the year 2015. He led a relatively private life, primarily working as a gardener and carpenter, with little involvement in the glitzy world of showbiz and social media.

Following his divorce from his wife Arylene, John chose to maintain a low profile regarding his personal life. Consequently, there is very limited information available about his social media presence, as he wasn’t particularly active in the digital sphere.

In essence, John Lee Bottom’s social media activity remained quite minimal, reflecting his preference for a more private and reserved lifestyle.

Key Details about John Lee Bottom

  • John Lee Bottom hailed from a financially disadvantaged background, with limited credible information accessible about his family and early upbringing.
  • In the 1980s, as his eldest son’s career began to flourish, John found himself increasingly distanced from his family’s pursuits. His primary concern was securing the family’s future, but it appeared that his concerns and insights were often overlooked.
  • A notable example of this divide emerged when his son River took on a role in the film ‘A Night in the Life of Jimmy Reardon.’ John strongly objected to this decision, yet his wife ultimately prevailed, underscoring the complexities and differences within the family dynamics during that period.

John Lee Bottom’s Net Worth in 2023

For many years, John Lee Bottom worked as a carpenter, and the specifics of his net worth and income remained undisclosed. His children all excelled in their fields. His son, Joaquin Phoenix, is really wealthy.

As of 2023, John Lee Bottom’s son, Joaquin Phoenix, boasts a significant net worth of $50 million. He has amassed this wealth primarily through his illustrious acting career. Joaquin’s financial success continues to grow considerably, reflecting his unwavering dedication and hard work.

In 2020, Joaquin won the Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in “Joker.” He had twice been nominated in the same category before this win, demonstrating his skill.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about John Lee Bottom

1. Who is John Lee Bottom?

John Lee Bottom, also known as John Phoenix, was the father of renowned actors Joaquin and River Phoenix. He played a significant role in their lives and careers.

2. When and where was John Lee Bottom born?

John Lee Bottom was born on April 5th, 1947, in Stanislaus County, California, United States.

3. What was John Lee Bottom’s profession?

John Lee Bottom worked primarily as a carpenter and gardener. He led a relatively private life away from the glitz and glamour of showbiz.

4. Why is John Lee Bottom associated with the “Children of God” cult?

During much of their marriage, John and Arlyn were “Children of God” Christian humanitarians. They lame

5. Why did John Lee Bottom and Arlyn decamp from “Children of God”?

When they learned the “Children of God” supported adult-minor relationships and communal intimacy, the couple fled. These practises affected their son River.

6. What made John Lee Bottom’s family choose “Phoenix”?

John and Arlyn moved to Winter Park, Florida, and changed their surname to “Phoenix.” They started over and moved on from their turbulent past.

7. Why did John Lee Bottom worry about his kids entering showbiz?

John worried about how the entertainment business would harm his children, especially River. In certain cinematic projects, he actively opposed River.

8. John Lee Bottom’s career after being divorced from Arlyn?

John worked hard as a carpenter to support his family after his divorce from Arlyn.

9. When did John Lee Bottom die?

John Lee Bottom died of cancer in 2015.

10. What is John Lee Bottom’s legacy?

John Lee Bottom’s love, memories, and children’s success continue his legacy. His life illustrates the power of love, resilience, and overcoming adversity to improve one’s family’s life.

Wrapping up

John Lee Bottom’s life was a journey marked by both triumphs and challenges. From humble beginnings, he found himself on a path intertwined with faith, family, and resilience. His marriage to Arlyn Phoenix led them to embark on a spiritual journey that ultimately took a dark turn, prompting them to leave a controversial cult and start anew as the Phoenix family.

As a father, John had concerns about the potential pitfalls of fame for his talented children, particularly his son River, whose early success in the entertainment industry raised questions about the industry’s influence. Despite his objections, John’s support and influence helped shape the careers of Joaquin and River Phoenix, who went on to achieve remarkable success.

John and Arlyn divorced after a long and loving marriage, with John becoming a carpenter to support his family. His 2015 cancer fight ended his life. The love, memory, and prosperity of John Lee Bottom’s remarkable children continue his legacy. His life shows the power of love, resilience, and overcoming adversity to improve one’s family’s life.

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