Anne Heche has died at age 53. Here's how her life fell apart after her affair with Ellen DeGeneres

Anne Heche was one of Hollywood's hottest young actresses before her high-profile relationship with Ellen DeGeneres ruined her career and made her a tabloid staple for more than 20 years.

In the mid-1990s, the spiky-haired blonde, who died on Friday, crashed her car while high on cocaine in Los Angeles. She got a lot of praise for her roles in the indie hit "Walking and Talking," the political satire "Wag the Dog," and the mobster blockbuster "Donnie Brasco," which made studio executives sit up and take notice.

By 1997, Heche, who had just turned 28, was set to become Hollywood's next leading lady. She had signed deals to star with Harrison Ford in a romantic comedy and with Gus Van Sant in a remake of "Psycho" that everyone was looking forward to.

But in August of that year, the young starlet came out with DeGeneres, who was 11 years older and much more famous than she was. DeGeneres had just come out on the cover of Time magazine four months before.

At the premiere of Heche's disaster movie "Volcano," the couple cuddled up for the cameras, and their groundbreaking same-sex relationship became a public sensation.

“It changed my life forever,” Heche admitted to Page Six in 2020. “The stigma attached to that relationship was so bad … I didn’t do a studio picture for 10 years. I was fired from a $10 million picture deal.”

The Emmy winner and Tony nominee further hit out at DeGeneres in a 2021 podcast interview, describing her ex-girlfriend as a money-hungry “bitch” who may have sabotaged her career in the wake of their split.

“I broke up with her because her goal was to have a lot of money. Mine was to find love, and hers was, ‘I want $60 billion,’ ” Heche said. “Good, good luck; our forks are never going to meet.”

Anne Heche was one of the Hollywood's hottest young actresses before her high-profile relationship with Ellen Degeneres. The former couple are pictured together in the 1990s.
Heche was one of Hollywood’s hottest young actresses before her high-profile relationship with Ellen DeGeneres. The former couple is pictured together in the 1990s.
Getty Images
Heche is pictured in 1997's "Donne Brasco." The actress had caught the attention of critics and was poised to become Hollywood's next leading lady.
Heche is pictured in 1997’s “Donnie Brasco.” The actress had caught the attention of critics and was poised to become Hollywood’s next leading lady.
©Sony Pictures/Courtesy Everett

When the couple's forks first met, in 1997, there were not many famous actresses who came out as gay or bisexual in public, and even fewer who showed off their same-sex relationships at movie premieres.

In the mid-1990s, homophobia was very common. A 1996 Gallup poll found that only 27% of Americans agreed with same-sex marriage. In the same year, the Defense of Marriage Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton. This law says that marriage is between one man and one woman.

Heche dated Steve Martin for three years and inspired a song by Lindsey Buckingham of Fleetwood Mac after a passionate "about a year" affair. She met Ellen DeGeneres at the 1997 Vanity Fair Oscar party, and the two started a secret relationship.

Later, the actress told DeGeneres that she had never been with a woman before and that they slept together the first night they met. She said it was the best time she'd ever had with a man.

After dating for six months, the young actress told execs she wanted to go public with her girlfriend, who was a sitcom star, at the premiere of "Volcano." She got pushback right away.

“I was told if I took Ellen, I would lose my Fox contract,” Heche recalled in a 2020 interview with Page Six. “I took Ellen to the premiere [anyway] and I was ushered out by security before the movie even ended and was told I was not allowed to go to my own afterparty for fear they would get pictures of me with a woman.”

Against the advice of publicists and studio execs, Heche went public with her relationship with Degeneres at the 1997 premiere of "Volcano."
Against the advice of publicists and studio execs, Heche went public with her relationship with DeGeneres at the 1997 premiere of “Volcano.”
Getty Images

After that, their relationship was all over the front pages of gossip magazines, but the couple didn't listen to people who told them to be less romantic.

Soon, they were regulars on the red carpet. Heche held DeGeneres' hand at the premiere of "Six Days, Seven Nights," her big-budget romantic comedy with Harrison Ford.

The movie made more than $160 million at the box office, but Heche couldn't get any more acting jobs, even though she was able to bring in crowds.

Heche appeared in "Six Days, Seven Nights" opposite Harrison Ford.
The film was a smash, grossing more than $160 million at the box office — but she subsequently found her acting offers had dried up, despite managing to draw in audiences.
Heche appeared in “Six Days Seven Nights” opposite Harrison Ford. The film was a smash, grossing more than $160 million at the box office — but she subsequently found her acting offers had dried up, despite managing to draw in audiences.
©Buena Vista Pictures/Courtesy
Heche held hands with DeGeneres at the premiere of her box-office smash "Six Days, Seven Nights" in 1998.
Heche held hands with DeGeneres at the premiere of her box-office smash “Six Days Seven Nights” in 1998.
Ron Galella Collection via Getty

When the famous couple broke up in August 2000, it only made things worse. The breakup was widely reported in the media.

People got a statement from them at the time that said, "It's a friendly breakup, and we're grateful for the 3 1/2 years we had together."

But a year later, DeGeneres told the Los Angeles Times that she was surprised by the breakup.

She said, "She left, and I haven't talked to her since. I don't know what happened."

At the time, tabloids said that Heche, who was bisexual and had never dated a woman, had left DeGeneres for cameraman Coleman Laffoon. Heche said she was bisexual and had never dated a woman.

Even though Heche and DeGeneres acted like they were in love in public, the actress has said that her comedian boyfriend tried to tell her what to wear when they were together.

Heche posted a picture of herself from the 1998 Golden Globes in an April 2021 TikTok video and asked, "Why do I look like a hippie?" Ellen didn't want me to dress in a sexy way."

Heche and Degeneres became fixtures on Hollywood red carpets in the late 1990s, and were known as America's most famous same-sex couple.
Heche and DeGeneres became fixtures on Hollywood red carpets in the late 1990s and were known as America’s most famous same-sex couple.
Ron Galella Collection via Getty
In an April 2021 TikTok video, Heche posted a photo of her from the 1998 Golden Globes and said: "Why do I look like a hippie? It’s because Ellen didn’t want me to dress sexy."
In an April 2021 TikTok video, Heche posted a photo of her from the 1998 Golden Globes and said: “Why do I look like a hippie? It’s because Ellen didn’t want me to dress sexy.”
Getty Images

The actress' breakup with DeGeneres had a big effect on her. One day after the breakup, she was put in a psychiatric unit.

Reports say that Heche drove into the desert after taking ecstasy and then knocked on the door of a stranger, who let her in. The homeowner called the police, and when they got there, Heche said, "God was going to take everyone back to heaven in a spaceship." She was then taken to the hospital by ambulance and put in a psychiatric unit. Hours later, she was let out.

The next year, Heche wrote an autobiography called "Call Me Crazy," in which she talked about her rough childhood.

The actress said that her father, who was gay but didn't tell anyone, sexually abused her. Her father died of AIDS when she was 13. A year after her dad died, her older brother drove into a tree and died. Heche thought that he had killed himself.

Heche — who had never been with a woman before — described DeGeneres as "the best sex of my life." They are pictured in 1999.
Heche — who had never been with a woman before — described DeGeneres as “the best sex of my life.” They are pictured in 1999.
WireImage

In an interview with Barbara Walters to promote the book, Heche said, "I had a fantasy world I would escape to. "I gave my other self the name Celestia," she says. "I thought I came from that place. I thought I was from a different planet. I'm sure I was crazy."

At the time, one newspaper said that Heche had "spilled enough beans to worry Taco Bell," which meant that stories about her personal life were getting more attention than her movies.

In 2003, Ellen DeGeneres started hosting her own daytime talk show, which quickly became a dance-along hit and gave her a lot of power in Hollywood's mainstream.

The show became an important way to promote a star's latest movie or movie, but because Heche couldn't be on her ex's press junket juggernaut, it probably made movie bosses less likely to hire her for roles.

Last year, Heche's podcast co-star talked about how the system worked, saying, "If you're on a show or in a movie, they have to go through 'The Ellen DeGeneres Show' to promote it, and guess what? Ellen kept you from getting in. "Everyone knows that, too."

Heche agreed, imitating DeGeneres by adding: “That’s right. ‘You have her in your movie, you have her in your show? You ain’t gonna get promo on mine!'”

Heche and Laffoon are pictured on their wedding day in September 2001.
Heche and Laffoon are pictured on their wedding day in Sept. 2001.
AP

A year after her split from DeGeneres, Heche went on to wed Laffoon. The pair welcomed a son, Homer, in 2002.

Although Heche was now in a heterosexual relationship, offers for roles in high-profile films did not return.

Instead, the star was confined to small-budget indie flicks, many of which were critically panned. In 2006, she signed on to star in the ABC drama “Men in Trees” — perhaps her most notable role following her breakup from DeGeneres.

In 2007, Heche was in the headlines again when she reported having left Laffoon for her Canadian co-star James Tupper — although the rumors were never confirmed.

Heche and Tupper welcomed a son named Atlas together in 2009. They split in 2018.

Heche was in a 9-year relationship with her "Men In Trees" co-star, James Tupper before their split in 2018. The pair have a son, Atlas, together.
Heche was in a 9-year relationship with her “Men in Trees” co-star James Tupper before their split in 2018. The pair have a son, Atlas, together.
Getty Images
Heche is seen with Tupper and their son Atlas (back), as well as Heche's oldest son, Homer (front) in 2012 snap. The girl in the image is unidentified.
Heche is seen with Tupper and their son Atlas (back), as well as Heche’s oldest son, Homer (front) in this 2012 snap. The girl in the image is unidentified.
FilmMagic

According to reports, Heche feuded with both ex-husband Laffoon and ex-partner Tupper over child support payments for the sons she had with each of them.

According to the Daily Mail, Laffoon accused Heche of having poor parenting skills and being “mentally unstable.” She blasted back by accusing him of being addicted to pornography and online poker.

Meanwhile, her financial feud with Tupper ended up in court, with the actress demanding to see her ex’s tax returns to work out how much child support he needed to pay.

Heche’s last relationship was with the actor Thomas Jane, her former co-star on HBO’s “Hung” from 2009 to 2011, whom she began dating in 2019.

The pair split earlier this year, the Daily Mail reports, with a source stating: “She was crazy in love with him. After so many failed relationships she thought she finally found her person – the guy who would be in her life forever.”

“And when they couldn’t make it work, she started falling apart,” the insider ominously added.

Heche's last relationship was with the actor Thomas Jane, whom she began dating in 2019. They are pictured that same year.
Heche’s last relationship was with the actor Thomas Jane, whom she began dating in 2019. They are pictured that same year.
Aaron Davidson/Getty Images for 2019 Sarasota Film Festival

Heche, meanwhile, raised her two sons and worked on and off in Hollywood.

Even though she couldn't get back to the top, she did have guest roles on shows like "All Rise," "Chicago P.D.," and "The Brave." Heche also got a part in the upcoming Lifetime movie "Girl in Room 13," which will air in September. She was also set to co-star with The Weeknd in HBO's "The Idol," which was getting a lot of attention.

Sad to say, both her career and personal life took a very sad turn. Heche was taken to the hospital late last week after a fiery car accident in Los Angeles left her brain without oxygen. The star, who was in a coma, was put on life support, but on Friday, it was taken away.

As Heche lay in a coma, DeGeneres was asked how her famous ex-husband was doing. She said, "We don't talk to each other, so I wouldn't know."

People said that DeGeneres was "callous" about what happened to her ex-partner, so she later tweeted a more caring message: "This is a sad day." "I send all my love to Anne's children, family, and friends."

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