By Lisa Richwine
LOS ANGELES -American actor Anne Heche was taken off life support on Sunday, nine days after suffering severe injuries in a fiery car crash, as a compatible person was found to receive her donated organs, a spokesperson said.
Heche, 53, had been legally dead since Friday, though still with a heartbeat, and was kept on life support to preserve her organs so they could be donated, her representatives said.
“Anne Heche has been peacefully taken off life support,”
spokesperson Holly Baird said in a statement.
Heche’s Mini Cooper sped out of control, plowed into a house and burst into flames on Aug. 5, leading to an agonizing hospital stay with increasingly grave messages from her family and representatives.
On Friday, one of her two sons, 19-year-old Homer Laffoon, issued statement saying: “My by brother Atlas and I lost our Mom.”
Heche, who starred in the movies “Donnie Brasco,” “Wag The Dog” and “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” struggled for decades with the fallout from a troubled childhood and was part of a groundbreaking same-sex couple in the 1990s.
Winner of a Daytime Emmy Award in 1991 for her roles as identical twin sisters in the NBC soap opera “Another World,” Heche starred in the 1998 adventure comedy “Six Days Seven Nights” with Harrison Ford and played alongside Demi Moore and Cher in the HBO TV movie “If These Walls Could Talk.”
She became one half of Hollywood’s most famous same-sex couple at the time when she dated comedian and actress Ellen DeGeneres. Against the wishes of her studio, Heche came out publicly at the 1997 red carpet premiere for disaster movie “Volcano,” taking DeGeneres along as her date.
The pair were together for more than three years before Heche ended the relationship.
In an interview with Page Six entertainment website in October 2021, Heche said she was “blacklisted” by Hollywood because of her relationship with DeGeneres. “I didn’t do a studio picture for 10 years. I was fired from a $10 million picture deal and did not see the light of day in a studio picture.”
In 2001, she married Coleman Laffoon, a cameraman. After the couple divorced, Heche began a long-term relationship with actor James Tupper which ended in 2018.
Anne Celeste Heche was born in Aurora, Ohio on May 25, 1969, and was the youngest of five children. At age 13, she was shocked by her father’s death from AIDS and from the revelation that he had had secret gay relationships.
“He was in complete denial until the day he died,” Heche told CNN’s Larry King in 2001. She said in 1998 that his death taught her that the most important thing in life is to tell the truth.
Her brother, Nathan, died three months after their father in a car crash.
Heche said her father raped her as a child, causing her mental health struggles for decades after, including frequent fantasies that she was from another planet.
“I’m not crazy,” Heche told ABC News in 2001 on the release of her book “Call Me Crazy: A Memoir.”
“But it’s a crazy life. I was raised in a crazy family and it took 31 years to get the crazy out of me.”
Heche’s mother, Nancy, denied her daughter’s claim that she knew about the sexual abuse, calling it “lies and blasphemies” and her sister Abigail has said she believes the “memories regarding our father are untrue.” She said that Anne Heche had cast doubt herself on her own memories of that time.
Later in her career, Heche starred as a senior member of the Defense Intelligence Agency in the NBC TV series “The Brave” and appeared on competition show “Dancing With The Stars” in late 2020.
(Reporting Lisa Richwine; Additional reporting by Daniel Trotta and Alistair Bell; Editing by Kim Coghill, Robert Birsel)