Actress Anne Heche Legally Dead at 53 After Fiery Car Crash
- Anne Heche has been declared legally dead at the age of 53 after a fiery car crash days before.
- The actress was known for her roles in “Another World,” and “Six Days, Seven Nights.”
- Heche had publicly struggled with mental health issues throughout her decades-long career.
Actress Anne Heche has been declared legally dead at the age of 53 in the wake of a devastating car crash.
A representative for Heche confirmed to People that Heche has been declared brain dead and by California law, that is considered legally dead. Her heart is still beating and she is on life support, though, the rep told People.
She will remain on life support until the OneLegacy Foundation can find matches for her organs.
“I will remember her most for her big heart, her commitment to the people she loved, and the fearless way she fought for what she believed in. Better Together wasn’t just a podcast, it was a belief system. She believed the best way to grow and improve yourself was to talk openly and share stories. We’re committed to continuing her legacy in that way,” said Ryan Tillotson in a statement to Insider.
Tillotson is the cofounder of Straw Hut Media, the podcast company that produced Better Together, a show about celebrating friendship, which was hosted by Heche and Heather Duffy.
“My heart hurts. I love you, Anne. Please send all your love and support to her two boys, Atlas and Homer, and the rest of her chosen family,” the statement continued.
Heche was seriously injured in early August when she crashed her car into a house in Mar Vista, California, causing a “heavy fire” that left her badly burned, authorities said.
Though she was stable after the accident, her condition deteriorated in the days that followed. A spokesperson for the actress said Heche fell into a coma and had suffered “significant pulmonary injury” that required mechanical ventilation, as well as burns requiring “surgical intervention.”
A statement from Heche’s spokesperson on Thursday night said that she had suffered a “severe anoxic brain injury” and was “not expected to survive.”
“It has long been her choice to donate her organs and she is being kept on life support to determine if any are viable,” the statement added.
Los Angeles police are still attempting to piece together the series of events that forced nearly 60 firefighters to extinguish the flames as they pulled Heche from her burned Mini Cooper. A blood test taken after the crash showed signs of narcotics, law enforcement told The Los Angeles Times on Thursday, however further testing was necessary to rule out any drugs given to her in the hospital.
Heche publicly struggled with mental health issues throughout her decades-long Hollywood career but worked steadily in TV and film since her breakthrough in the late 1980s.
Born in Aurora, Ohio in 1969, Heche was the youngest of five children. Her family moved several times during her childhood before settling in New Jersey, where Heche began working at a local dinner theater to help financially support her family.
In subsequent years, Heche opened up about her troubled and traumatic upbringing, recounting the deaths of her siblings, including her 18-year-old brother who died in a car crash moments before his high-school graduation. In her 2001 memoir “Call me Crazy,” Heche said she believed her brother had actually died by suicide — a thought she struggled to carry emotionally throughout her life.
Heche in her memoir also alleged that her father sexually abused her throughout much of her childhood before he died in 1983 as one of the first known victims of the HIV/AIDS crisis. Her mother and sister have repeatedly rejected Heche’s allegations about her father, but Heche in later years attributed many of her mental health struggles to the abuse she said she suffered as a young girl.
Heche found fame playing twins on the daytime soap opera “Another World”
In 1987, shortly before she graduated high school, Heche scored the dual roles of twins Vicky Hudson and Marley Love on “Another World,” which she would play for the next four years. She received a Daytime Emmy Award for her work on the soap and followed up her screen debut with several television and movie roles.
Throughout the 1990s, Heche continued to play roles in made-for-TV movies. But by the end of the decade, Heche had broken through to feature films and was gaining recognition for her supporting work in films like “Donnie Brasco,” “Volcano,” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”
She scored her first starring role in the 1998 romantic adventure “Six Days, Seven Nights,” opposite Harrison Ford. Heche played a New York City editor who crash-landed on a desert island with Ford’s pilot and followed it up with another starring role in the 1998 drama “Return to Paradise,” opposite Vince Vaughn.
That same year, Heche starred in Gus Van Sant’s “Psycho” remake, which earned middling reviews and poor box-office returns. It would be only her third and final starring film role of her career.
She continued acting, however, turning to independent films and television, where she played roles in “Prozac Nation,” “John Q,” “and “Ally McBeal.” She went on to star on Broadway in “Proof,” and garnered a Primetime Emmy Award nomination in 2004 for her work in the Lifetime movie “Gracie’s Choice.” That same year, she was nominated for a Tony Award for her work in “Twentieth Century,” opposite Alec Baldwin.
Heche worked steadily until her death, scoring supporting and guest roles on several television series and films, including HBO’s “Hung,” “Quantico,” and “My Friend Dahmer.”
In 2020, she competed on “Dancing with the Stars,” and placed thirteenth.
Heche’s relationship with Ellen DeGeneres sparked a media frenzy
The two women went public with their relationship in 1997 and courted controversy and spectacle as an early, public same-sex couple. Heche and DeGeneres during their relationship spoke about wanting to get a civil union if it became legal.
But Heche later speculated that her same-sex relationship hurt her career and limited the starring roles for which she was considered. She claimed that industry executives had told her the reason she wasn’t getting leading roles was because she was gay.
“How could that destroy my career? I still can’t wrap my head around it,” Heche told The New York Times in 2009.
The couple’s break-up in 2000 became tabloid fodder after Heche had a mental health episode immediately following the couple’s split, in which she walked through the Fresno desert and ended up in a stranger’s home. The actress later acknowledged that she had taken ecstasy before the incident, which ended with a police response.
When speaking about the episode in subsequent years, Heche alleged that the abuse she said she suffered from her father led her to be “insane” for the first 31 years of her life. But Heche claimed to have put her mental health struggles behind her following the Fresno incident.
“Fresno was the culmination of a journey and a world that I thought I needed to escape to in order to find love,” Heche told Barbara Walters in 2001.
Heche married twice following her relationship with DeGeneres. She and cameraman Coleman Laffoon wed in 2001 and had one son together before filing for divorce in 2007. In 2008, Heche married her “Men in Trees” co-star James Tupper, with whom she had a son. The couple separated in 2018.
In a 2001 ABC News interview about her memoir, she described the joy she felt in sharing her life via memoir.
“I wrote this book to say goodbye, once and for all to my story of shame and embrace my life choice of love,” she told Walters. “The fact that there are people hearing my story is the icing on the most beautiful cake in the world, that I imagine says, ‘Happy freedom Anne. You have made it to the other side.”