Anne Heche: Celebrities, son, ex-husband and former partner Ellen Degeneres all pay tribute to late actress

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Anne Heche with her two sons
Anne Heche with her two sons. Instagram @AnneHeche

Actress Anne Heche died this week, aged 53, following a car crash. Her family have since joined in paying their respects publicly.

A representative said the late actress is “legally dead,” but added that her life-support treatment will continue temporarily to check if she may be a match for a potential organ donation.

 

The 53-year-old actress had been in a coma for a week after crashing her car into a two-story house in the Mar Vista neighbourhood in Los Angeles.

 

According to the Los Angeles Fire Department, Heche’s vehicle “erupted in heavy fire”, requiring 59 firefighters to spend over an hour before it was fully extinguished. The house she crashed into was left “uninhabitable”.

 

Anne Heche’s Mini Cooper following the crash in Mar Vista, Los Angeles.
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As well as suffering severe burns, the actress was left with an anoxic brain injury – when the brain is deprived of oxygen – her family said at the time, in an announcement revealing she was “not expected to make it”.

 

Heche appeared in numerous popular TV shows and multiple hit movies; including Volcano, Donnie Brasco and the 1998 remake of Psycho.

The mother-of-two also appeared on Dancing with the Stars in 2020.

 
Anne Heche with her two sons
Anne Heche with her two sons. Instagram @AnneHeche

 

Less than a day later, the announcement of her passing came.

“Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul”, her family said in a statement on Friday.

 

“Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy”, her family’s statement said.

“Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact.”

 

In a further statement provided to NBC News, Heche’s oldest son, Homer Laffoon, expressed his deep anguish and pain following his mother’s death.

 

“My brother Atlas and I lost our Mom,” Laffoon said. “After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness”, the statement continued.

“Hopefully, my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom. 

“Over those six days, thousands of friends, family, and fans made their hearts known to me. 

“I am grateful for their love, as I am for the support of my Dad, Coley, and my stepmom Alexi who continue to be my rock during this time. 

“Rest In Peace Mom, I love you, Homer.”

 

Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres dated in the late 90s
Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres dated in the late 90s

 

Heche was Ellen Degeneres’ first ‘out’ girlfriend in the public eye during the 90s.

 

In 1997 – a very different time to be out and in the public eye – both DeGeneres and Heche faced backlash from both the media and general public for being open about their relationship.

 

Heche shared during a 2020 interview how she was told by Fox Studio executives that her “contract would be terminated” if she were to bring DeGeneres to the 1997 Volcano premiere as her date. 

 

“I brought Ellen despite those threats, and we were escorted out of the theater before the lights came on by security and not allowed to attend the premiere party because they did not want any photos of us together,” Heche recalled.

“The difference between what would happen today and what happened then is that I would not have been ushered out of my own premiere and fired from a multi-million dollar picture deal with Fox for taking a girl as my date.”

 

The couple eventually parted ways in 2000, but Heche reflectively described the relationship as “a beautiful part” of her life, adding “I was a part of a revolution that created social change, and I could not have done that without falling in love with her.”  

 

Degeneres initially raised some eyebrows following a frosty response to Heche’s hospitalization, when cornered by a reporter.

 

 

Following the announcement of her passing, Ellen took to Twitter to pay her respects, saying: “This is a sad day. I’m sending Anne’s children, family and friends all of my love.”

 

 

When Heche starred in the 1998 rom-com Six Days, Seven Nights, alongside Harrison Ford, so tarnished was the reputation of both women – just for being openly in a loving queer relationship – that many critics trolled over whether an out LGBTQ+ woman “could carry a movie” playing a straight role.

 

 

At the time, same sex relationships were far less common, especially in the celebrity world and Heche later shared how she was convinced that she wouldn’t get the role following the public backlash she had received for dating Ellen.

 

However, she later shared how Ford ensured that didn’t happen. In October 2020, the actress revealed how he was the one to help keep her in the movie.

 

“I would not have gotten that movie,” she said. “He called me the day after they said I wasn’t gonna get it, because I took Ellen to the premiere, and Harrison Ford, he was a hero.”

 

 

Coley Laffoon, her ex-husband, also  shared an emotional tribute on Friday, assuring his followers and Heche’s fans that he and their 20-year-old son, Homer, have the support they need as they mourn.

 

“In the wake of Anne’s passing, I just wanted to say a few things,” Laffoon, 48, said in the Instagram video. “One, I loved her and I miss her and I’m always going to. Two, Homer is okay. He’s grieving, of course, and it’s rough. It’s really rough, as probably anybody can imagine, but he’s surrounded by family and he’s strong and he’s going to be okay.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Coley Laffoon (@coleylaffoon)

 

“I’d like to think she’s free, free from pain, and enjoying or experiencing whatever’s next in her journey,” Laffoon went on to say in the video. “She came in hot, and she had a lot to say. She was brave and fearless, loved really hard and was never afraid to let us know what she (thought) and what she believed in.”

 

In a follow-up post, Laffoon included a photo of Heche with Homer as a baby, captioning it, “It’s important to remember the real love in the best times. Thank you, Anne. Peace on your journey.”

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Coley Laffoon (@coleylaffoon)

 

 

Heche’s ex James Tupper, with whom she shared 13-year-old son, Atlas, posted a photo of the actress to on Instagram on Friday, with the caption, “Love you forever.”

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by James Tupper (@mrjamestupper)

 

Numerous celebrities shared their condolences to social media, including Alec Baldwin, who carried a message about sobriety, in the wake of statements from police that Heche was under the influence of drugs and alcohol at the time of her accident, but that extra testing was needed to rule out any substances given in hospital.

 

“We all have friends, family, loved ones, colleagues, people who have perished as a result of drugs and alcohol. Whether you’re drunk and driving and you get killed or kill someone else or seriously injure your life is altered in some way. Drugs, overdoses, opioids, all of it,” he wrote. “For Anne, what a horrible way to go.”

 

Heche had previously discussed the mental health issues she faced throughout her life, which she said stemmed from years of sexual abuse by her father.

 

Some more celebrity tributes below:

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Alec Baldwin (@alecbaldwininsta)

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Keo Motsepe (@keo_motsepe)

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by Carrie Ann Inaba (@carrieanninaba)

 

“My heart goes out to Anne Heche’s children, family, friends and everyone who grieves,” the star wrote via Instagram Story on Friday. “It was an honor to have known you and worked by your side. You were a lovely person and an incredible actress.”

She added: “You will always have a special place in my heart. Rest in power, Anne.”