Anne Heche dies aged 53 after brain injury from catastrophic car crash

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Anne Heche. (Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic)

Anne Heche has died aged 53, days after she was involved in a car crash.

The actor was taken to hospital on 5 August after her car crashed into a home in LA and set on fire.

On Friday (12 August), her family confirmed that she had sustained severe brain injuries and was not expected to survive

The family said Heche was being kept on life support to explore organ donation options, as it had “long been her wish” for her organs to be donated. On Friday evening, she was taken off life support and passed away. 

“We want to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers for Anne’s recovery and thank the dedicated staff and wonderful nurses that cared for Anne at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills hospital,” the family said.

“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.”

The Los Angeles Police Department has launched an investigation to possible drug use involved in the tragic incident. Heche is survived by her two children, Homer Lafoon and Atlas Heche Tupper.

Anne Heche
Anne Heche. (Momodu Mansaray/WireImage)

Anne Heche’s life, loves and story of survival

Anne Heche rose to prominence in the late ‘80s where she played twins, Vicky Hudson and Marley Love, on the soap opera Another World which won her a Daytime Emmy award. 

Her breakout Hollywood role came in the ‘90s where she played opposite Johnny Depp as Maggie in Donnie Brasco. She then made international headlines in 1997 for her relationship with comedian Ellen DeGeneres.

Heche told People: “In 1997, I met Ellen DeGeneres at the Vanity Fair party and that was the night that changed my life forever.”

The couple were together for three-and-a-half years and are considered the first ‘lesbian power couple’ in Hollywood. They parted ways in August 2000.

Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres.
Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche attend the 49th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards (Ron Galella/Getty)

After their break-up, Heche  reflected on her relationship with Ellen saying she was “the most ravishing woman I had ever seen”.

 “I think at certain times in people’s lives you just radiate an energy and a glow of fabulousness. And that was her. I had never seen anybody so lit up,” she said.

After her relationship ended with Ellen, Heche married Coleman Laffoon.

“He’s one of the few people I’ve ever met who actually embraces the same notion about sexuality that I do … which is that you love who you love. You fall in love with a person, not a sex,” she said.

Over the past two decades Heche has starred in Cedar Rapids, The Legend of Korra and as a regular in Chicago P.D. among several other projects. 

But she was vocal about the fact that her relationship with Ellen impacted her career.

“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,” she said in 2020, while competing on Dancing With The Stars.

Throughout her career Heche was also outspoken about her experiences of sexual abuse from her father. 

In her 2001 memoir Call Me Crazy, she recounted her harrowing childhood, stating that her father raped her as a child, and the impact the abuse had on her mental health.

She also said that she discovered he was gay when he died of AIDS-related illnesses.

“I think everything I’ve done in all my insanity was to try to get my parents to love me. My father loved movie stars,” she said.

“I decided I needed to become famous to get his love. My mother loved Jesus. That was her thing. So I wanted to become Jesus Christ.”

She added: “I drank. I smoked. I did drugs. I had sex with people. I did anything I could to get the shame out of my life.”

Before her death, Heche had started a podcast with best friend Heather Duffy called Better Together.

It saw them “celebrate friendship, and we believe that we can create more joy in the world by sharing our stories, stumbles, and triumphs.”

Heche had also recently finished production on her Lifetime movie Girl in Room 13. She played a mother searching for her daughter who becomes a human trafficking victim. 

Lifetime executive VP Amy Winter said: “This project is important to Anne and to every one of us. We all sought to make a film to shed light on this important issue.” 

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