Anne Heche (ex-Vicky Hudson/Marley Love, Another World) has been declared legally dead at the age of 53. The actress succumbed to injuries she sustained in a car accident earlier this month. The Emmy-winning Another World alum was declared brain dead Thursday, but a rep for the actress said Heche's heart is still beating, and the actress has been kept on life support in order to allow OneLegacy Foundation enough time to find organ recipients who will be a match.
"Anne Heche has been peacefully taken off life support," a representative said Sunday night, and later confirmed the actress' passing.
It has been reported that Heche's organs were viable for donation, though there have been no additional details released.
"My brother Atlas and I lost our Mom," Heche's oldest son Homer Laffoon said in a statement. "After six days of almost unbelievable emotional swings, I am left with a deep, wordless sadness. Hopefully my mom is free from pain and beginning to explore what I like to imagine as her eternal freedom. Rest In Peace Mom, I love you."
"Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend," a statement released on behalf of Heche's family and friends said. "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."
As Soap Central previously reported, Heche crashed her vehicle into a Los Angeles residence on Friday, August 5, which led to a fiery explosion that left the actress in a coma with severe burns and a serious anoxic brain injury (when the brain is deprived of oxygen). Police said that preliminary blood tests had revealed the presence of drugs in her system, but extra testing was needed to rule out any substances given to her in the hospital. The Los Angeles Police Department told the PA news agency that the incident was being investigated as a felony driving-under-the-influence traffic collision.
Investigators told ABC News no alcohol was detected in Heche's blood sample, however, the blood draw was many hours after the crash and alcohol could have already gone through her system.
Born in Aurora, Ohio, on May 25, 1969, Heche's first professional acting job was performing in a dinner theater production of The Music Man at the age of twelve. "At the time we'd been kicked out of our house and my family was holed up living in a bedroom in the home of a generous family from our church," she told the Telegraph in 2011. "I got $100 a week, which was more than anyone else in my family. We all pooled our money in an envelope in a drawer and saved up enough to move out after a year."
It was the actress' twelfth move in her twelve years of life, which had already been filled with tragedy and would see much more: she claims that she was sexually abused as a child by her father, Donald, a closet homosexual who died of AIDS in 1983; three months after her father's death, her brother, Nate, died in a car accident that she speculated might have been suicide; her sister, Cynthia, passed away around the same time from a heart defect; and she became estranged from her mother, Nancy, due to a strained relationship (Nancy denies that Heche was sexually abused, and she denies that Nate died by suicide).
Heche recalled that her mother stalled her acting career when the family was living in Chicago and an agent spotted Heche in a high school play; the agent secured the then-sixteen-year-old an audition for As the World Turns, but when Heche was offered the job, her mother insisted that she turn it down and finish school first.
Fortunately, soap operas once again came knocking on Heche's door in 1987, shortly before her high school graduation, when Another World offered her the dual role of Vicky Hudson and Marley Love.
"Again I was told I couldn't go. My mother was very religious and maybe she thought it was a sinner's world," Heche stated to the Telegraph. "But I got on the phone and said, 'Send me the ticket. I'm getting on the plane.' I did my time with my mom in a one-bedroom, skanky apartment and I was done."
Heche thrived in her newfound television career, which gave her the ability to frequently perform. Acting, as she explained, was "heaven" because it was an "opportunity to experience a life and a joy that was not in my family."
Heche ended up starring on Another World for four years, and her portrayal of Bay City twins Vicky and Marley is still considered to this day to be one of the most memorable and impressive runs in daytime history. In fact, the actress recalled during a 1998 video interview that her work was so convincing, many soap opera fans didn't believe that she was one person playing the roles.
"Their reactions were kind of schizophrenic because I played twins and nobody believed I was the same person playing the twins," she said. "So, some people just hated me and some people really loved me, which was so funny that I fooled them. Some people didn't believe I was the same person, and they wanted to figure out which twin I was."
Heche's soap opera twin work was so believable, she earned a Daytime Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Younger Actress category (then called Outstanding Juvenile Female) in 1989 and won in the same category in 1991 for her work on the NBC soap opera. She recalled in a 2020 interview with Michael Fairman that she had decided to quit AW and was filming a movie with Jessica Lange when she won her Emmy, which meant she wasn't in attendance at the ceremony.
"I'm watching the Emmys and I win and I'm eating a cheeseburger on a bed by myself in a Motel 6 in Nebraska and they say, 'She can't be here ... she is in a new movie with Jessica Lange,'" the actress said before joking, "I won an Emmy on a bug-infested bed in a Motel 6 in Nebraska and at that moment I said, with a cheeseburger in my mouth, 'Does this mean I'm supposed to be an actress?'"
In a post on Twitter, the Daytime Emmys acknowledged Heche's passing and celebrated her memorable work in daytime.
"The Daytime Emmys sends love and light to the family and loved ones of Daytime Emmy winner Anne Heche," the Daytime Emmys posted on their official Twitter feed. "Her performance as Victoria/Marley on Another World touched the world and lives on in our memories. Our sincerest sympathies."
The Daytime Emmys sends love and light to the family and loved ones of Daytime Emmy winner Anne Heche. Her performance as Victoria/Marley on Another World touched the world and lives on in our memories. Our sincerest sympathies.— Daytime Emmys (@DaytimeEmmys) August 12, 2022
Following her successful daytime stint, Heche went on to find blockbuster fame in films like Donnie Brasco opposite Al Pacino and Johnny Depp; Volcano with Tommy Lee Jones; Wag the Dog with Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman; Six Days, Seven Night with Harrison Ford; I Know What You Did Last Summer; and the 1998 remake of Psycho.
In 1997, Heche guest-starred on the sitcom Ellen, where she fell head over heels in love with its star, Ellen DeGeneres, whom she dated until 2000. The actress reported that her career dried up after the couple went public with their relationship, and she arguably never made it to her previous level of high-profile success. However, she did go on to star in films like Prozac Nation, Birth, and Rampart, as well as many TV series such as Ally McBeal, Men in Trees, The Michael J. Fox Show, Nip/Tuck, The Brave, Chicago P.D., and Hung.
More recently, Heche starred in the CBS legal drama All Rise and competed in the 29th season of Dancing with the Stars, which also featured soap alums Chrishell Stause (ex-Jordan Ridgeway, Days of our Lives; ex-Amanda Dillon, All My Children) and Jesse Metcalfe (ex-Miguel Lopez-Fitzgerald, Passions).
On many occasions over the years, Heche opened up about having turned to drugs and alcohol to help her deal with the trauma of her childhood. In a 2001 interview with ABC News, she stated, "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."
The actress also suffered from mental health issues for most of her life and had a highly publicized psychotic breakdown in 2000, when she knocked on the door of a stranger's home in Fresno, California, requested a shower, declared herself to be God, and offered to take everyone back to heaven in her spaceship. Heche also stated on national television in 2001 that she created a fantasy world called the "Fourth Dimension" to make herself feel safe and had an alter ego who was the daughter of God and half-sister of Jesus Christ named "Celestia," who had contacts with extraterrestrial life forms.
Heche spent several years in therapy, but in 2011, she claimed she was finished with it. "I don't want to look into anything else. Been there, done that. I've moved on," she said at the time. "I've always believed I could have a great life built on love. That was kind of my theory as I struggled and fought to put everything behind me -- that you can move on -- and now it's true."
Heche is survived by her mother, Nancy; sister, Abigail; 20-year-old son Homer Laffoon, who she shared with her ex-husband, Coleman "Coley" Laffoon; and 13-year-old son Atlas Tupper, who she shared with her Men in Trees co-star, James Tupper.
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