• Industry

Remembering Anne Heche, 1969-2022

Anne Celeste Heche, the 53-year-old Emmy Award-nominee actress, has died from injuries sustained in an automobile accident.  On Friday, August 12th, the doctors established that she was brain dead, but still on life support in anticipation of organ donations. On Sunday, August 14th, a recipient was found for a donation, and the life support was disconnected.

In a statement released by her family and friends, “Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend. Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy. Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact.”

On August 5, Heche crashed her car into a residence in the Mar Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles, setting both her car and the home on fire. According to reports from the Los Angeles Fire Department, her vehicle was traveling at a high speed and burst into flames, and came to rest 30 feet inside the two-story home. Initial reports had her injuries listed as trauma and burns on her entire body; but eventually, it was disclosed, that she suffered a severe anoxic brain injury, which was listed as the cause of death.

Renowned for both her professional and personal life, Heche was born on May 25, 1969, in Aurora, Ohio. While she spent her early childhood there, she soon learned to keep her bags packed as her father, a choir director, moved the family eleven times. Due to her restrictive religious upbringing, Heche wasn’t allowed to partake of normal adolescence socialization, keeping her at odds with her peers.

“I never saw a movie before. I never had any idea what they were talking about,” she recalled during a 1997 HFPA press conference. “It wasn’t my choice but we were so religious and so I never saw any films when I was a child.”

But sometimes it seems some are fated for the paths so chosen and when Heche’s mother passed along to her daughter later in life a forgotten poem she wrote a child, the words reverberated.

“I said I wished I was a movie star,” she noted about the poem. “I wanted to work all day and never play. Now, that was not a career that any kid in religion ever thinks about. I didn’t even know what a movie star was at that time. I think my career was predestined.”

In 1983, the then-13-year-old suffered a double tragedy as her closeted father died of AIDS and three months later, her older brother was killed in an automobile crash. The remainder of the family relocated to Chicago, where Anne attended the progressive Francis W Parker School where she dabbled in theater. An agent spotted her, secured her an audition for the soap opera As the World Turns, which she booked, but her mother refused to let her go. Upon graduation, she received another offer, this time for the soap opera Another World. Told once again she couldn’t go, Heche left anyway, landing the job and eventually turning the dual role into a 1991 Emmy for Outstanding Young Actress in a Drama Series.

“I was given the opportunity to go from a high school play to a soap opera. I didn’t even know what that was but I’ll be dammed, I ran,” she adds. “I got the job and had no idea what the heck they were talking about but I was glad to be out of the house.

Her steady stream of teenage jobs such as waitressing, hostessing, ice cream scooping, and clothing store stocker was in the past as Hollywood came calling. Initial bit parts on Murphy Brown, the TV movie O Pioneers, and the film The Adventures of Huck Finn, led to her breakout role in the made-for-HBO anthology If These Walls Could Talk. Soon the actress was cast in major roles with an impressive array of co-stars, from Johnny Depp in Donnie Brasco, Tommy Lee Jones in Volcano, Dustin Hoffman , and Robert De Niro in Wag the Dog to Harrison Ford in Six Days and Seven Nights.


It was during the release of that comedy that Heche’s personal life overshadowed her rapidly escalating professional one. The actress began a relationship with comedian Ellen Degeneres and when she asked to bring her date to the film’s premiere, the studio pushed back and she saw her career come to almost a screeching halt. Years later when appearing on Dancing with the Stars, Heche talked about the incident.

“She was warning me, ‘This is going to happen,'” Heche said at the time. “I was in a relationship with Ellen for three-and-a-half years and the stigma attached to that relationship was so bad that I was fired from my multi-million-dollar picture deal and I did not work in a studio picture for 10 years.”

In 2001, Heche married Coley Laffon and they had a son Homer. After divorcing in 2009, she began seeing actor James Tupper, with whom she had another son, Atlas.

While she candidly noted her film career never got back to where it was, Heche pivoted to television and theater, where she was cast such shows such as Everwood, Men in Trees, The Brave, and Chicago P.D and appeared on Broadway in Proof and On the Twentieth Century, where she received a Tony nomination.

She wrote a memoir in 2001 entitled Call Me Crazy, where she candidly talked about battling her demons, rattled by sexual abuse and mental sickness. It seemed those demons never left her as she frequently talked about them and moments after her August 5th crash, law enforcement officials deemed she was ‘under the influence and acting erratically.’

As her rep told People Magazine, “Anne had a huge heart and touched everyone she met with her generous spirit. More than her extraordinary talent, she saw spreading kindness and joy as her life’s work –especially moving the needle for acceptance of who you love. She will be remembered for her courageous honesty and dearly missed for her light.”