Anne Heche, the Emmy and Tony nominated actress whose work in “Six Days Seven Nights,” “Another World” and dozens of other projects dovetailed with a groundbreaking romance with Ellen DeGeneres that challenged homophobia in Hollywood, is dead. She was 53 years old.
Her eldest son, Homer Laffoon, confirmed her death in a statement to The Times on Friday.
“My brother Atlas and I have lost our mum. After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with deep, wordless sadness,” he wrote. pain and begins to explore what I like to imagine as his eternal freedom.
“During these six days, thousands of friends, family and fans have let me know their hearts. I am grateful for their love, as well as the support of my father, Coley, and my mother-in-law Alexi, who continue to be my rock during this time. Rest In Peace Mom, I love you, Homer.
Heche was on life support after his car crashed into a house in Mar Vista, which then caught fire. After the August 5 crash, Heche was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital in critical condition. She was declared brain dead on Thursday evening. On Friday, Heche was legally dead, but her heart was still beating and her body was being kept on life support to preserve viable organs for possible donation.
She suffered significant burns in the accident. On Thursday, a Los Angeles Police Department spokesperson confirmed that a blood test showed Heche was under the influence of narcotics at the time, and another law enforcement source told The Times that the initial blood test de Heche had shown cocaine in his system.
Prior to Heche’s death, the LAPD planned to administer a second blood test to rule out hospital treatment as a reason for narcotics appearing in its initial screening. Shortly after the accident, Heche fell into a coma with a serious injury that required her to be put on mechanical ventilation, her spokesperson said.
Thursday night, it was clear that Heche would not survive. A statement on behalf of his family and friends said the actor had suffered “a severe anoxic brain injury” and would be kept on life support to determine if any of his organs were viable for donation, as she said. wanted for a long time.
“Anne had a huge heart and touched everyone she met with her generous spirit,” the statement read. “More than her extraordinary talent, she saw spreading kindness and joy as her life’s work – particularly moving the needle for acceptance from whoever you love. She will be remembered for her courageous honesty and she will be greatly missed for her light.
Heche’s ex-husband, Coleman “Coley” Laffoon, said in a video that she “was brave and fearless and really loved hard.”
“Goodbye Anne. I love you, thank you,” he added. “Thank you for all the good times. There were so many, and see you soon on the other side.
Rosanna Arquette, Alec Baldwin, James Gunn and James Tupper were among Hollywood personalities mourning Heche on social media on Friday.
Throughout his decades-long career, Heche delivered nearly 100 performances on television, on stage and in film. In the late 1980s, she got her big break with a dual role on the long-running NBC soap opera “Another World.” In 1991, she won a Daytime Emmy for her acclaimed work as Vicky Hudson and Marley Love on the show.
After rising to prominence on the daytime television circuit, Heche made the leap to the big screen, where she starred in high-profile films including “Donnie Brasco” (1997), “Volcano” (1997) , “I Know What You Did Last Summer” (1997), “Six Days Seven Nights” (1998), “Return to Paradise” (1998) and “John Q” (2002).
However, her professional life took a turn when she began publicly dating DeGeneres, who had just come out as gay on his hit sitcom and in real life. Both performers suffered major career setbacks due to being open about their sexuality at a time when it was far less accepted.
In a 1998 interview with the Los Angeles Times, Heche accused Fox of refusing to hire him after she and DeGeneres made their relationship official around the time the studio’s “Volcano” debuted — and s collapsed – at the box office.
“They still have this bitterness about when I fell in love with Ellen and the opening of ‘Volcano,'” Heche told The Times.
“I have my own opinion on why this movie didn’t do well, as anyone with half a brain would, but they want to blame someone. I won’t say the doors are closed for me. I know there are studios that will hire me (laughs).
On Friday, DeGeneres voiced her support for her former partner.
“It’s a sad day”, DeGeneres tweeted. “I send Anne’s children, family and friends all my love.”
Heche was born on May 25, 1969 in Aurora, Ohio. During her childhood, Heche and her family moved often when her father, a choirmaster, pursued different concerts. At age 12, she worked with her mother in a dinner theater in Swainton, NJ, then eventually moved with her family to Chicago.
In the Windy City came his big break. A talent scout invited 16-year-old Heche to audition for CBS’ “As the World Turns.” However, before she could take on this daytime drama, her mother insisted that she finish high school. After graduating in 1987, Heche debuted as Vicky Hudson and Marley Love on NBC’s “Another World.”
“I think everything about my childhood led me to be an actress,” she told Larry King in 2001. “I didn’t just want to leave the planet, I wanted to be something other than who I was. And my family too.
In 1991, Heche won his first Daytime Emmy for his work on the NBC soap opera and soon made his film debut. Throughout the 90s, she appeared in “An Ambush of Ghosts”, “The Adventures of Huck Finn”, “I’ll Do Anything” and others. She eventually became a screen staple, acting alongside Cher, Demi Moore and Alec Baldwin. In 1996, she appeared in Nicole Holofcener’s Sundance film “Walking and Talking”, then in Mike Newell’s “Donnie Brasco” with Johnny Depp a year later. She also shared the screen with Tommy Lee Jones in “Volcano.”
Heche met DeGeneres in March 1997 at the Vanity Fair Oscar party. The two went public with their relationship on an episode of “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” shortly after Heche joined the cast of “Six Days Seven Nights.”
“I don’t think it was immediately sexual attraction,” Heche told Winfrey of meeting DeGeneres. “I just think it was, ‘Wow, you’re just the most amazing person I’ve ever met and I want to be with you.'”
The women ended their relationship in August 2000. A day after the breakup, Heche made headlines when she stopped by a stranger in Fresno and claimed that God “was going to take everyone back to heaven in a spatialship”.
At first, she cut back on her time in the spotlight, opting instead for roles in independent films and television series such as “Ally McBeal”, “Prozac Nation” and “Gracie’s Choice”. In 2001, Heche released her memoir, “Call Me Crazy.” In it, she alleged that her father, who was gay and died of AIDS in 1983, abused her when she was young. She previously told The Times that she intended her autobiography to help others.
“It’s who I am. I hope my talking about these things in my life can help other people find peace in their own conflicts,” she told The Times in 2004. “People are curious about it. , but I think it will become less and less, and I hope that I will have more and more subjects to add so that there are not always questions about the last seven years of my life.
In September 2001, Heche married Laffoon, a cameraman she had hired in 2000 to film a documentary about DeGeneres. The following year was a busy one as Heche gave birth to their son, Homer, and made her Broadway debut in a production of “Proof.”
In 2004, she earned a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for her work in “Gracie’s Choice” and a Tony nomination for her work in a Broadway production of the play “Twentieth Century,” where she starred alongside Alec Baldwin. That year also saw Heche appear in the films “Sex Life” and “Birth”.
In 2007, Heche filed for divorce from Laffoon and began dating his “Men in Trees” co-star James Tupper. In December 2008, she gave birth to her second child, Atlas. From 2009 to 2011, Heche starred in HBO’s “Hung.” She also had a recurring arc as Susan Rodriguez-Jones on “The Michael J. Fox Show” from 2013 to 2014.
Heche revisited Broadway in 2016 with Topher Grace in “Opening Night.” She also starred with Sandra Oh in the independent film “Catfight”.
“Oh and Heche are brilliant here, giving performances totally devoid of conceit and self-awareness,” the Times’ “Catfight” review said. “They’re not afraid to get ugly, both in their treatment of everyone around them as well as their bruises after the fight, which makes them all the funnier.”
“I created characters from the fun of life,” Heche told The Times in 2010, talking about his process. “And I also loved physical comedy, not overdone, but born out of what I thought was true in life, groping through life’s path, which is so complicated and painful.”
In 2017, Heche appeared in the movie “My Friend Dahmer” and played the lead role in the NBC series “The Brave.” In 2018, she and Tupper separated. In 2020, she participated in the 29th season of “Dancing With the Stars”, being voted third among the contestants. That same year, she had a recurring role on the CBS legal drama “All Rise.”
In recent years, Heche has kept busy, launching the “Better Together with Anne & Heather” podcast with co-host Heather Duff in 2020. In June 2022, she also landed a starring role in Lifetime’s upcoming film “Girl in Room 13”. directed by Elisabeth Röhm. As of Thursday, the film was still on track for its September release.
Heche is survived by his sons Homer and Atlas.
Times writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.