US actress Anne Heche has died, aged 53, a week after car crash

Anne Heche: US actress not expected to survive, says family
Anne Heche (Image GETTY)

**Story updated, with original below**

Actress Anne Heche has died at the age of 53.

Heche was Ellen Degeneres’ first girlfriend in the public eye during the 90s. When she starred in a rom-com, alongside Harrison Ford, critics asked whether an out LGBTQ+ woman “could carry a movie” playing a straight role. 


The star was involved in an accident last Friday (August 5), crashing into a into a two-storey home, which resulted in her being taken to hospital and treated for severe burns.

Anne Heche with her two sons
Anne Heche with her two sons (Insta: @anneheche)


She later slipped into a coma and was in a “critical condition”, with her representatives telling the media only today that she suffered a “severe anoxic brain injury” and was not expected to make it.

Heche leaves behind two sons.


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Friend Nancy Davis wrote on Instagram: “Heaven has a new Angel. My loving, kind, fun, endearing and beautiful friend @anneheche went to heaven. I will miss her terribly and cherish all the beautiful memories we have shared.

“Anne was always the kindest, most thoughtful person who always brought out the best in me … My heart is broken.”


Original story from earlier today (August 12) following an announcement from Heche’s family that she was not expected to make it:


The 53-year-old actress suffered significant burns and lung damage after the crash in the Mar Vista area of Los Angeles last week.


“Unfortunately, due to her accident, Anne suffered a severe anoxic brain injury [when the brain is deprived of oxygen] and remains in a coma, in critical condition,” Heche’s reps now said in a statement on behalf of her family.

“She is not expected to survive.”


“It has long been her choice to donate her organs and she’s being kept on life support to determine if any are viable,” per People.

“We want to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers for Anne’s recovery and thank the dedicated staff and wonderful nurses,” they added.


Police said on Friday that preliminary blood tests showed the presence of drugs in her system, but extra testing was needed to rule out any substances given in hospital.


Anne Heche’s Mini Cooper following the crash in Mar Vista, Los Angeles.
Anne Heche’s Mini Cooper following the crash in Mar Vista, Los Angeles.


Heche’s list of film credits include I Know What You Did Last Summer, Volcano and Six Days, Seven Nights, where she starred alongside Harrison Ford, Donnie Brasco, Cedar Rapids and the 1998 Psycho remake.

In 1991 she was nominated for outstanding younger actress in a drama series at the Daytime Emmy Awards for her performance in Another World.


TV credits include appearances in Ally McBeal, Save Me, Aftermath, Hung, Chicago P.D., Men in Trees, and Ellen DeGeneres’ sitcom ‘Ellen‘ in 1998.


The two were an item in the late 90s and when DeGeneres was cornered by reporters earlier this week, the former daytime talk show host said, We’re not in touch with each other, so I wouldn’t know.”


DeGeneres confirmed she wants to send her well wishes and said on camera, “I don’t want anyone to be hurt.”



Heche also appeared on reality show Dancing with the Stars in 2020.


LAPD spokesman Matthew Cruz confirmed following the accident that the crash is being investigated as a felony DUI traffic collision, adding that preliminary blood tests “did show signs of narcotics”.


“The blood draw results showed a presence of narcotics but additional testing is required to rule out any substances that were administered in the hospital,” Officer Annie Hernandez further elaborated.

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


While many online have expressed sadness over the incident, correctly emphasising that she is a mother of two, the accident has proved divisive to some who have been quick to sling criticism due to her blood tests and the circumstances which led up to the the crash.


While we’ll try not to share any of the negative posts, because there’s not much to be gained from it, we will drop some of the replies to give you an idea.


You can also read wider chat around substance misuse and the LGBTQ+ community in No Straight Answers: substance abuse and our queer community.