The Untold Truth Of Anne Heche

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The following article references mental health and substance use issues, as well as allegations of sexual assault.

Hollywood has never come up short in the eccentric, talented, oddball characters department. The profession is packed with actors who blow us away on the big screen and fascinate us with their atypical real-life stories. Actor Anne Heche starred in dozens upon dozens of projects over the years, mesmerizing the world with her wild and raw talents, and her beauty. Off-camera, Heche's life was a tale so interesting and at times, unfathomable, it could have been one of the scripts for a project she had worked on. 

But it wasn't. 

She certainly made no secret that she marched to the beat of her own drum and lived her life according to her rules only, never apologizing for who she was or what she did. "Risk is the key," Heche said in an interview with Mr. Warburton Magazine. "Be yourself. Be brave. Also, the longer I have been in the business, the more I know that everyone pretends to know more than they do. So don't be intimidated!" Intimidated she was definitely not, and the world loves a woman who follows her path and her truth. Many aspects of this leading lady's life story are common knowledge to the public, yet other parts are untold gems that help put together the complex puzzle that was actor Anne Heche, who died in August 2022 at 53 years old.

May she forever rest in peace.

Anne Heche was a Jersey Girl in her heart

Anne Heche was born in Aurora, Ohio, but considered herself a Jersey girl to her core.  Regarding roots, Heche was in sound company as many notable actors and entertainers have grown up in Jersey. (Think: John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Laura Prepon, and Anne Hathaway.)

Heche grew up poor, moving about with her parents and four siblings before landing in the Garden State. "When I was a kid, age 12, my family moved 11 times. We were poor. No money. Homeless. A yellow strip of tape across our door. My brother called a friend, and so we next lived with another nice Christian family in an Amish community, and my father then ended up in Atlantic City, NJ," Heche revealed to Page Six

It was in New Jersey where Heche discovered her talent for entertaining the masses. "That's where I first became an actress," Heche explained to Suburban Life. "I literally started singing for my supper, right on the Boardwalk. I would flip burgers and sing show tunes to get people to come to our stand." She went on to work at the 76 House Dinner Theater in Swainton, earning $100 a week to help support her struggling family. Heche later called California home, but if you looked at her closely, that Jersey upbringing helped mold the muse. "So, you could definitely say that New Jersey changed my life. I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Jersey."

A devastating childhood

Anne Heche was never one to hold in secrets and has shared her sad upbringing with the world via interviews and written works. Heche adamantly claimed she endured sexual abuse by her father from a very early age until she was about 12 years old, and over the years had gone into great detail explaining what she recalled about that chapter in her life. It's hard to hear her recount of all that Heche had to survive, but true to her character, she always laid everything out there, as she explicitly did in her ABC interview with Barbara Walters. "I think it's always hard for children to talk about abuse because it is only memory. I didn't carry around a tape recorder ... I didn't chisel anything in stone ... Anybody can look and say, 'Well, how do you know for sure?' And that's one of the most painful things about it. You don't." Heche's allegations against her now deceased father were never corroborated by her mother nor her siblings.

Heche's father died from AIDS in 1983 when Heche was a teenager. She spent the next couple of decades acting out to escape the years of pain she felt. "I drank. I smoked. I did drugs. I had sex with people. I did anything I could to get the shame out of my life," Heche shared with Walters. It was during these years of chaos and shame that Heche experienced a break in reality, spiraling into mental illness.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Struggles with mental health

In an interview with The Advocate, Heche discussed the connection between her father's mental illness and her own. "My father was doing things that are attributed to schizophrenia — big [business] deals, delusions of grandeur. Which I also had, so I know there's a lot of connections with the insanity that I had with my father." Years of alleged abuse wouldn't have helped a predisposition to mental illness. To cope with her alleged trauma, Anne Heche created an alternative being. "I created another entity that was from heaven. Celestia is the reason I believe I survived. She was the consistent love that allowed me to know that I could get to the other side of my abuse," she revealed in her interview.

Heche's mental health took center stage in 2000 following her split from Ellen DeGeneres. Hours after DeGeneres released a statement announcing the breakup, Heche was found wandering about, disoriented, in rural Fresno County, California. Law enforcement told local television stations the actor might have been under the influence of drugs (via ABC News.) Speculation regarding the incident was later put to rest by Heche herself in her ABC interview. "I was told to go to a place where I would meet a spaceship. I was told in order to get on the spaceship that I would have to take a hit of ecstasy, Fresno was the culmination of a journey and a world that I thought I needed to escape to in order to find love."

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

Anne Heche's varied roles

Anne Heche got her acting career rolling with soap operas. She portrayed characters Marley Love and Victoria "Vicky" Hudson on the hit series "Another World" from 1988 to 1991. Her work earned her a Daytime Emmy and two Soap Opera Digest awards. While Heche started in soaps, she didn't stay in that genre forever and instead branched out into movies in the latter part of the 1990s. Heche became well recognized for blockbuster hits like "Donnie Brasco," "Volcano," and "6 Days, 7 Nights," but also poured her genius into independent films like "Spread" and "Birth."

Heche took on both comedic and dramatic television projects like "Men in Trees," "Save Me," and "The Brave" and lent her voice to a character in the animated picture, "The Legends of Korra."

Heche even had a reality television moment, shaking her groove thing on "Dancing With the Stars." She didn't win, but she took her elimination in stride, expressing gratitude for the opportunity to participate in the iconic series. "It's been a blessing to be on this show and to be able to tell my story. And to be able to have a partner to tell the truth with and to learn with," she told "Good Morning America." "Listen, I live in love, I live in truth, and I stood up for it ten years ago, 20 years ago, and I stand up for this very same thing today."

The actor dated some notable names

It is fair to say that when it came to love and romantic partners, Anne Heche didn't have a type. The actress was once wed (to her first son's father, Coley Lafoon), but before Lafoon, Heche dated a couple of high-profile names in Hollywood. She dated Steve Martin from 1994 to 1997. The two had a large age gap with him being 24 years her senior. She also spent a year in the arms of former Fleetwood Mac band member, Lindsey Buckingham. Buckingham even penned a song about Heche called "Down on Rodeo."

Of course, her most famous relationship was the one she had with Ellen DeGeneres. For, Heche it was a love-at-first-sight moment. The two women met at a Vanity Fair Oscar Party in 1997 and were connected at the hip for four years after that. Heche told Oprah (in now deleted footage, via HITC) that "(she) saw Ellen across a crowded room, not knowing anything at all, except that I was just drawn to her." Heche had always remained steadfast and proud of her years with Ellen. "Our time was a beautiful part of my life and one that I wear with honor. I was a part of a revolution that created social change, and I could not have done that without falling in love with her," Heche explained in an interview with Mr. Warburton Magazine. That said, Heche believed the relationship with DeGeneres didn't come without lasting consequences. 

Blacklisted after loving Ellen DeGeneres?

In Tinseltown, connections can make or break you. And if you had asked Anne Heche, her four-year romance with Ellen DeGeneres broke her, resulting in the actor being blacklisted from mainstream Hollywood. Heche proudly wore DeGeneres on her arm at the movie premiere of "Volcano." The year was 1997, and the world was far more closed-minded regarding same-sex romantic involvements. So closed-minded, in fact, that Heche was told to exit her own premiere because of who she brought as a date. The actor explained to Mr. Warburton Magazine, "I was told by Fox Studio executives that if I brought Ellen to the premiere, my contract would be terminated. 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 revealed to Page Six that following their very public appearance, she was wiped clean from the film biz and, in her words, became "patient zero in cancel culture." 

"I didn't do a studio picture for ten years. I was fired from a $10 million picture deal and did not see the light of day in a studio picture," explained Heche. In her opinion, she suddenly wore the scarlet letter, no longer desirable by her industry. Still, a few notable names thought Heche had much to offer and stood by her side.

Harrison Ford might have saved her career

Anne Heche was in love with Ellen DeGeneres, but the world seemingly wasn't in love with them as a couple, at least not the world of Hollywood. As Heche fell from grace, two high-profile actors came forth, lifted her up, praised her talents, and insisted on her involvement in their projects. "There have been two men who fought for me to be seen for my talent and not my headlines: Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford," Heche professed in her Mr. Warburton Magazine interview. 

Harrison Ford had been discussing "Six Days, Seven Nights" with Heche before Heche and DeGeneres' movie premiere appearance. He made it crystal clear to her that regardless of how others felt, he was sure she was right for the part. He told Heche he didn't care who she loved and was sure they would make a fantastic romantic comedy together. Heche was positive Ford's intervention on her behalf was why she got the role. "I would not have gotten that movie," Heche told Entertainment Tonight. "He called me the day after they said I wasn't gonna get it because I took Ellen to the [Volcano] premiere, and Harrison Ford, he was a hero."

Actor Alec Baldwin also went to bat for Heche and pushed her forward for the Broadway project, "Twentieth Century," which earned Heche a Tony Award nod. Years later Baldwin remained in Heche's corner and spoke out via Instagram, wishing her well after her 2022 car accident.

Heche vs. Lafoon divorce drama

Anne Heche was married one time to cameraman Coley Lafoon. The pair welcomed a son together and later went through a difficult divorce in 2009. Never a lady to mince her words, Heche told the world what she thought of her ex when she went on David Letterman's "The Late Show," asking, "Can you say 'lazya**' on TV?" The former couple battled in court several times over custody and compensation issues (via Daily Mail), with Heche fronting much of the financial support for their shared son. Per People, Heche paid Lafoon a hefty lump sum, provided him with a $3,700 per month stipend, and paid for 75% of their son Homer's private education. 

Heche and Lafoon, unfortunately, slung nasty accusations in one another's direction after ending their relationship. She was adamant he paid more attention to online poker and porn, and he thought Heche was mentally unstable. Per People, Lafoon claimed the actor lied to gain custody and broke components of their parenting agreement.

Lafoon went on to wed again in 2015 and welcomed three more children with his second wife, and Heche found herself in a committed relationship with her "Men in Trees" co-star and second son's father, James Tupper. Heche and Tupper were together for the better part of a decade before parting ways. 

Anne Heche was mama to two sons

Anne Heche had much to be proud of in her life. She was an accomplished actor who stood up for her beliefs and views, and most importantly, she was a dedicated mother to her two sons. Heche had her first child with ex-husband Coley Lafoon. Son Homer was young when his parents split, and spent time with both Heche and Lafoon in his childhood years. Shared custody might've been fair, but that didn't mean it wasn't hard for Heche. She spoke of long-distance parenting on "The View" in 2007. "It's hard. You've got to open up your heart as if he's right in front of you." She then had her second son, Atlas, with her former "Men in Trees" costar, James Tupper, in March 2009. 

Heche cherished her children, telling People, "Obviously, the miracle of life for a mother is just dumbfounding. It's so hard to explain how wonderful it is to look in the eyes of a child that you're blessed with." She also enjoyed the time she got to spend with her boys, revealing to Us Weekly that she considered sitting around in a hot tub with her kids her idea of a dream vacation. Engaging in a rousing round of Sorry, playing charades, and staring up at the clouds were a few of her favorite things to do with them. While Heche seemed a complex person by many accounts, the simple joys of parenting were special to the actor. 

Add author to her credits

Celebrities often pen books about their lives and experiences. It makes sense, as people are fascinated with the inner truths and tales of their favorite entertainers and personalities. Anne Heche certainly had a life worth putting to paper. In 2001, she wrote the book "Call Me Crazy." Her memoir detailed her account of her tumultuous childhood and how she managed to survive and cope with the traumas she endured over her years. Many celebrities enlist the help of ghostwriters, as authorship isn't normally a singer or actor's primary discipline — but not Heche! She told The Advocate she wrote her book without help from a ghostwriter. She did, however, receive assistance from her former spouse, as ex-husband Cooley Lafoon was her editor. Of her memoir, Heche said, "I've been writing this story, I would say, for 31 years. Every single thing I wrote was about abuse. I wrote a play about abuse, movies about abuse. Everything I wrote led up to writing this book." 

Heche's truth was hers alone, and a few family members disagreed with the claims the actor made in her book. Heche's mother and sister spoke out in response to the book on a now-defunct website called Reader's Forum (via Fox News.) "I am trying to find a place for myself in this writing, a place where I, as Anne's mother, do not feel violated or scandalized," Heche's mother wrote.  Heche's only living sibling, Abigail, expressed similar sentiments on the forum. 

Anne Heche's net worth

Anne Heche worked in the entertainment business for several decades, credited in over 80 projects that helped her build an impressive net worth. Per Celebrity Net Worth, Heche was worth an estimated $4 million before her tragic death in August 2022. Multi-millionaire status is a far cry from where the talented, ever-honest, and open actor started in life. Per her personal recollection, Heche was born into meager beginnings and a life of untruths. 

"We were poor, but we said we were rich. We were falling apart, but we said we were good Christians. We had a father who lived a double life, but we pretended that we were absolutely fine. We lived on the streets but said we didn't. Everything we did was a lie. Denial, denial, denial," she told the Tampa Bay Times. Anne Heche was a woman who came from unfortunate circumstances and made her life remarkable in many ways.

She tragically lost three of her four siblings

In the beginning, there were five siblings in the Heche family. As of this writing, only one of the siblings remains living. In 1961, Anne Heche's sister Cynthia died in infancy from a heart defect. She also lost a brother, Nathan, in a motorcycle accident three months after her father died from AIDS. Nathan's death was ruled an accident, but Heche has made claims that he took his life. His tragic passing marked a new chapter for Anne with a move to Chicago, and she discussed this pivotal moment in her interview with "Hollywood Medium" star Tyler Henry. Henry also went on to tell the actor her brother is with her still, saying, "He's proud that you've been able to talk about these things and discuss these things because you're doing it for him too. And he appreciates that." 

Anne's sister Susan Bergman died in 2006 from brain cancer, leaving only sister Abigail alive. Abigail, an Illinois-based jewelry designer, has maintained a different opinion regarding her and Anne Heche's upbringings. While Heche had been vocal about the alleged abuse she suffered at the hands of her father, her sister Abigail said otherwise, claiming the incidents didn't happen. "It is my opinion that my sister Anne truly believes, at this moment, what she has asserted about our father's past behavior ... [but] based on my experience and her own expressed doubts, I believe that her memories regarding our father are untrue."

Her favorite aspect of her appearance

Anne Heche's favorite aspect of her appearance wasn't her ethereal looks or shockingly good bone structure (hi, cheekbones!). Her go-to quality had nothing to do with the outside. When asked by Mr. Warburton Magazine what part of her appearance was her favorite, Heche responded, "After all these years, I think that joy is reflected from the inside out. I believe that if you are unkind, it catches up with you on your face at a certain age. Eventually, if you're an a**hole, you will wear that on your face, and no botox or creams can hide it."

Heche's penchant for kindness radiated throughout her being and was noticeable to those around her. The executive producer of "The Brave," Dean Georgaris, spoke of Heche to South Jersey Magazine, saying, "Not only is she one of the most talented actresses in the world, she is also one of the kindest and most generous people I know. Every day I go to set, I count my lucky stars that she said yes to the role." He praised the actor's warmth and friendly demeanor, saying Heche was the kind of person who knew everyone's name on set and would go out of her way to support the cast, making everyone working away from home feel cared for.

Heche also gave glory to her guts, telling Us Weekly, "My secret weapon is my guts. I wasn't raised with a lot of knowledge, but my guts kept me alive."

Anne Heche's untimely death

In August 2022, the world was stunned to hear that Anne Heche had been involved in a devastating car accident, crashing into a home and becoming trapped inside her vehicle. Emergency crews worked to extract Heche from her burning car, and she was transported to a medical facility where she slipped into a coma. Many former partners and entertainment community members expressed well wishes and hopes for a full recovery, including Ellen DeGeneres, James Tupper, and Heche's former judge on "Dancing With the Stars," Carrie Ann Inaba. Sadly, the accident proved too much for the actor to overcome, and she died at the age of 53.

"Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend. Anne will be deeply missed, but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy. Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact," said the deceased star's rep in a statement to People.

In 2017, Heche told "Access Hollywood" what she wanted to be remembered for upon her death: "That I made my children happy and gave them a life that they loved."