PEOPLE is reporting that actress Anne Heche has passed away, succumbing to the injuries she sustained in last Friday’s horrific car accident. Heche was 53 years old.
As Jennifer Oliver O’Connell noted in our initial write-up on the accident:
On Friday, Heche, who is most famously known as the first Mrs. Ellen DeGeneres, crashed into a home in the Los Angeles community of Mar Vista and set it ablaze.
.@Stu_Mundel was over this wild scene at the top of our noon newscast – a car that had crashed into an apartment complex in Mar Vista area
— MarlaTellez (@MarlaTellez) August 5, 2022
Anne Heche was involved in a fiery car crash on Friday that has left her “severely burned” and “intubated” in the hospital, TMZ reports.
The “Vanished” actress, 53, was reportedly driving her blue Mini Cooper down a suburban street in Los Angeles around noon when she crashed into the garage of an apartment complex.
According to the outlet, bystanders tried to help Heche exit the vehicle, but she allegedly backed up and drove off before crashing into another home where her car became “engulfed” in flames.
It appears that Heche may have been under the influence of alcohol, as bottle with a red cap was seen in the car’s cup holder shortly before the accident.
According to Fox News, it took 59 firefighters 65 minutes to quell the flames. Lynne Mishele, the owner of the home, along with her dogs and tortoise, barely escaped without injury. According to the GoFundMe posting set up by friends, the house has been red-tagged, and Mishele has lost everything, including the tools for her livelihood.
While Heche grabbed headlines when she began dating Ellen DeGeneres in the late nineties, she later married cameraman, Coley Laffoon, with whom she had a son, Homer, who is now 20. Laffoon and Heche divorced in 2009. She had a second son, Atlas, with actor James Tupper, with whom she was in a relationship for 10 years. Per PEOPLE:
A proud mom to her two boys, Heche last posted about them on Mother’s Day, writing below a photo of Homer and Atlas, her arms slung around them, “#luckiestmom.”
Around the time of her marriage to Laffoon, Heche also released a memoir titled, “Call Me Crazy,” in which she detailed her struggle with mental illness. Per PEOPLE:
As for her memoir, Heche reveals in its pages that she spent the first 31 years of her life suffering from mental illness that she says was triggered by sexual abuse at the hands of her father. (Donald Heche was a choir director in a Baptist church who frequented gay bars at night. Heche found out about her father’s double life at the age of 12, as he lay dying of AIDS.)
Heche described herself as “insane,” according to ABCNEWS.com. In a session of ABC’s “20/20” that airs Wednesday, interviewer Barbara Walters asks Heche: “Were you really insane as most of think of insane?” Replies Heche: “You would have to define what most people think is insane.” The actress then goes on to explain that she believed she was two people. One was Anne Heche, The other was Celestia, who was from another planet and spoke in a different language directly with God. As for the present, “I’m here,” says Heche. “I could not be more elated with my life.”
In more recent years, Heche did a spectacular turn as Deputy Superintendent Katherine Brennan on “Chicago P.D.,” in which she played a conflicted and ultimately corrupt contemporary of series protagonist Hank Voight (Jason Beghe). Through the 11-episode arc, there was a perceptible note of weary regret in the Brennan character — one which I noticed in a number of Heche’s roles, including back in the early days, when she played Vicky/Marley on “Another World,” and one which, given her history, likely wasn’t all acting.
My favorite of her roles, though, comes from a great, and hugely underrated, dark comedy from 2011: “Cedar Rapids.” Heche played insurance agent Joan Ostrowski-Fox (“O-Fox”) opposite Ed Helms, John C. Reilly, and Isiah Whitlock Jr., in a movie that I highly recommend. Heche’s O-Fox befriends Ed Helms’ naive Tim Lippe during an insurance convention in Cedar Rapids. Again, there’s a note of sadness in her character — maybe wistful resolve. As noted, it’s a dark comedy, but there’s a sweetness to it, as well, particularly in the interactions between Heche and Helms.
While the circumstances of her death are tragic — not only for Heche and her loved ones but also for the woman whose home was destroyed — we can hope that she has found some measure of peace at last.