The actress Anne Heche is in a state of brain death at the Grossman Burn Center of the West Hills Hospital in Los Angeles, where she had been admitted on Friday the 5th after suffering a car accident in which the vehicle caught fire. The interpreter’s own family has confirmed this Friday her death at 53 years of age, although the medical team that treated her has maintained some of her vital functions to allow organ donation. Doctors had already evicted the actress from Six Days and Seven Nights, Donnie Brasco or the series Another World on Thursday, and kept her on assisted breathing to decide what to do with her organs and if they were used for transplants, since Heche was a donor.
Heche was in an accident with her Mini Cooper when she crashed into a house in Mar Vista, a residential neighborhood west of Los Angeles. More than fifty firefighters battled against the consequent spectacular fire, which destroyed the vehicle and part of the house; Due to the virulence of the flames, they were unable to get Heche out until 65 minutes after his intervention. Thanks to various traffic cameras, the police have reconstructed his erratic driving – which caused a previous small accident – before the crash. In a first blood test carried out by the Los Angeles police, the presence of drugs, specifically cocaine, was found, although it will be necessary to wait for the forensic examination, the results of which may take weeks. Upon the arrival of the firefighters, Heche still managed to talk to them, before falling unconscious; in the hospital he was already in a coma.
Remains of Anne Heche’s car accident in Mar Vista, Los Angeles. Carolyn Cole (Los Angeles Times via Getty Imag)
This Thursday, a family representative – whose name is not known – explained in a statement: “Unfortunately, Anne suffered a severe anoxic brain injury and remains in a critical coma. She is not expected to survive. Her choice was always to donate her organs and she is kept on a life support system to determine if any of them are viable.”
Of his family (parents and five children) only the mother and two daughters were left alive, Abigail, a jewelry designer, and Anne, the youngest. Childhood —she was born in Aurora (Ohio)— and adolescence of the actress were very hard, and in various interviews and in her memoirs (Call Me Crazy, 2001), she described the sexual abuse to which her father subjected her until she reached the age of 12 years, and in those who infected him with genital herpes. Both her sister and her mother have denied that what the actress told was true, but Anne Heche spoke on numerous occasions of her nomadic childhood, in which the family moved up to 11 times to live even in an Amish community. She never knew how her father, who said he was in the oil business, really made a living, and when they finally settled in Ocean City, New Jersey, Donald Joseph Heche died of AIDS. His daughter, who was 13 at the time, told decades later: “We all knew that he led a very promiscuous double life as a homosexual. Why then did he rape a 12-year-old girl? Because he was an abuser.”
The Heche spent years of hardship. His second sister, Cynthia, had already died as a child due to a heart problem. They came to live in a bedroom in the apartment of a family in their parish. Three months after the father’s death, it was Nathan, the only boy of the Heche brothers, who died in a car accident after falling asleep at the wheel, according to the police report; while according to Anne it was a suicide.
Harrison Ford and Anne Heche in ‘Six Days Seven Nights’.
Financially, the family was able to begin to improve their living conditions when Anne began working in a theater café and contributing a steady income to their household. In 1985 they moved to Chicago and a talent scout signed her after seeing her at a school function. Heche even flew to New York to audition for the soap opera As The World Turns, one of the oldest American television series. However, after receiving an offer, her mother refused to let her work until she finished high school. For this reason, only when she finished her studies was she able to start acting, and she did so in another series, Another World, in which she played two twins, and with which she won a Daytime Emmy award.
Heche’s career was built on constant struggle, in her struggle to get better roles. After several secondary characters in film and television, in 1996 she finally managed to appear in commercial (Jury Duress) and artistic (Walking and Talking) movies. The following year came the Heche explosion: as Johnny Depp’s wife in Donnie Brasco, with a stupendous appearance in Smokescreen, and in blockbuster titles like Volcano or I Know What You Did Last Summer. Suddenly, she was one of the leading actresses on the cast lists: with Harrison Ford she co-starred in Six Days Seven Nights, and she played Marion in Gus Van Sant’s version of Psycho under the title Psycho.
Just one day after he signed his contract with the production of Six days and seven nights, the media aired that Heche and television presenter Ellen DeGeneres had a romantic relationship. The media storm did not end with her breakup three years later, in 2000, but instead haunted her throughout her marriage, from 2001 to 2007, to a cameraman with whom she had her first child. “I was in a relationship with Ellen DeGeneres for three and a half years, and the stigma attached to that relationship was so terrible that my multimillion-dollar industry contract was terminated, and I didn’t work in a movie studio for a decade,” he said in the fall of 2020, when he participated in the television contest Dancing with the Stars. The lesbian relationship also broke the already tenuous ties between Anne and her mother, a religious woman who did not believe in same-sex love.
Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres at the premiere of ‘Woman vs. Woman’ in January 2000 in California.photo:MPTV.net
Of course, it is true that as an actress she only worked in indie movies and television series, and never again appeared in the cast of a major production. Although she did not stop acting on the small screen (Ally McBeal, Men in Trees ―where she met actor James Tupper, father of her second child―, Nip/Tuck, Hung, The Brave, Chicago PD or The Idol, which is pending premiere). In cinema, she took part in American Playboy (in reality, with her role as a gigolo’s girlfriend, she ate Ashton Kutchner), Prozac Nation, Reincarnation or the wonderful Rampart. She also made her stage debut (she landed on Broadway at 33) and she was a supporting Tony nominee for Twentieth Century. Thanks to her character in the telefilm Gracie’s Decision, she managed to be an Emmy finalist.
Among the various projects that Heche has left finished, although pending release, is the telefilm for the Lifetime network Girl In Room 13, about the trafficking of women for the sex business, and in which Heche had been involved beyond acting to draw attention to this sexist violence.
All the culture that goes with you awaits you here.
The literary news analyzed by our best critics in our weekly newsletter