Anne Heche's Early Years
Anne Heche was born on May 25, 1969, in Aurora, Ohio, the youngest of five children. Her family moved often in her early years, eventually settling in New Jersey, where 12-year-old Heche went to work at a local dinner theater. Her dad died of AIDS when she was 13, and in her 2001 memoir, the actress accused him of sexual abuse. "I had a bad family life," she once told PEOPLE. "I went in search of a great one."
Anne Heche on Another World
Heche's big break came in 1984 on the soap Another World, on which she played twins Vicky and Marley. In 1991, she won the Daytime Emmy Award for outstanding young actress in a drama series.
Anne Heche and Ellen DeGeneres' Relationship
In 1997, Heche made headlines for her personal life when she began dating Ellen DeGeneres. One of the first openly gay female couples in Hollywood, the pair faced intense scrutiny but tried to use their journey for good.
"Once a week [we] work with homeless teens at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center," DeGeneres told Teen People in 1998. "The kids there don't see any hope. We try to explain to them that every person who's ever gone on to do great things has had to overcome something huge."
When Heche was featured in PEOPLE's 1998 Beautiful Issue, DeGeneres called her girlfriend "a shining star. She's just full of light."
"Looking at Ellen is my beauty secret," Heche added. "When I look at her, I feel good."
The pair split in 2000; one day after they announced their breakup, Heche was found in a stranger's home in Fresno, California, calling herself "Celestia" and looking for a spaceship. Years later, she told PEOPLE she'd been high on ecstasy, but that the moment and its aftermath brought her healing.
"Every relationship in my life was leading to the moment where I went to Fresno," she told PEOPLE. "I made some really outrageous choices to find love, and I'm so grateful for it. Without Ellen, I never would have been as clear as I am now."
Anne Heche in Volcano
In the late '90s her career was taking off, with a string of movie roles and TV spots that led her to 1997's Donnie Brasco and the action-packed Tommy Lee Jones hit Volcano (pictured).
The premiere of the movie proved to be a darker turning point in the actress' career, though: she informed the studio she'd be bringing DeGeneres as her date to the red carpet, and "I was told if I took Ellen I would lose my Fox contract," Heche recalled in 2020 on Dancing with the Stars. "I took Ellen to the premiere and I was ushered out before the movie even ended and was told I was not allowed to go to my own afterparty for fear that they would get pictures of me with a woman."
"The stigma attached to that relationship was so bad that I was fired from my multi-million dollar picture deal and I did not work in a studio picture for 10 years," she added.
Anne Heche in Six Days, Seven Nights
Heche starred opposite Harrison Ford in the 1998 romantic thriller, despite her relationship with DeGeneres putting her career in jeopardy.
In a 2020 chat with Entertainment Tonight, Heche recalled a phone call with Ford in which he made it clear she'd keep the role in Six Days, Seven Nights regardless of public opinion.
"He said, 'Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn who you're sleeping with. We're gonna make the best romantic comedy there is, and I'll see ya on the set,' " she shared. "He's one of my heroes. He fought a battle for me."
Anne Heche in Psycho
In 1998 Heche starred opposite Vince Vaughn in the remake of Psycho — for which she earned her sole Razzie Award nomination.
Anne Heche and Coley Laffoon's Marriage
Heche married documentarian Coley Laffoon in 2001; together, they have one son, Homer, born in 2002. In 2007, their divorce played out in the media, with Laffoon saying he had "serious concerns about whether she is psychologically capable of caring for Homer" and the actress' rep accusing him of "filing lies with the court because Anne would not cave in to his astronomical monetary demands."
Anne Heche in Gracie's Choice
The actress earned her sole Primetime Emmy nomination for her work in the television movie, in which she played a drug-addicted mother who goes to jail, leaving her teen daughter (Kristen Bell) to raise her other children.
Anne Heche on Broadway
Heche had two runs on Broadway, first in the play Proof in 2002 and later in the revival Twentieth Century (pictured), which earned her a best actress Tony Award nomination in 2004.
Anne Heche on Men in Trees
Heche enjoyed a return to the small screen in 2006 on ABC's Men in Trees, starring as a relationship coach from N.Y.C. who finds herself in small-town Alaska, surrounded by men. "It's somebody who thinks she has it all and then has the rug pulled out from under her," Heche told PEOPLE in 20016. "Been there, done that! When I read the script, it was instantly like, 'Wow! This I know how to do.' "
Anne Heche and James Tupper's Relationship
The show also connected her with James Tupper; the two began an off-screen romance in 2007. "[We] really trusted each other almost right from the beginning," he told PEOPLE in 2007. "I adore her, and I'm hopeful for the future. I've never met anyone like her. There's something really comforting when you can truly connect with someone and be understood. Isn't that what we all want?"
The couple welcomed son Atlas in 2009, though in 2018, the actors split.
Anne Heche and Her Kids, Sons Atlas and Homer
In an interview with PEOPLE, Heche called motherhood "the most joyous experience of my life." Her sons are now 13 and 20.
Anne Heche on Hung
The actress again earned acclaim for her work on the 2009 series Hung, and it introduced her to her next love, actor and costar Thomas Jane. Though she said there was "magic between" the pair as they filmed, they didn't start dating until production wrapped.
"It's taken 24 years until we could experience our great loves, but all important things in life have brought us to this place," Heche told Bunte in 2019. "So our love is like a fairytale, and the universe helped us."
Anne Heche on The Brave
In more recent years, Heche continued to find steady work on TV, including on Blackout, Save Me, The Brave (pictured) and Chicago P.D.
Anne Heche on Dancing with the Stars
Heche joined the season 29 cast of Dancing with the Stars, making it to 13th place with partner Keo Motsepe.
Anne Heche Dies
Heche's most recent role was on the CBS legal drama series All Rise, on which she played trial attorney Corrine Cuthbert (pictured).
On Aug. 5, 2022, the actress was involved in a single-car crash in Los Angeles, slamming into a home and becoming trapped in her flaming vehicle. She was taken to a nearby hospital and on Aug. 8, PEOPLE confirmed she was in critical condition.
"She has a significant pulmonary injury requiring mechanical ventilation and burns that require surgical intervention," her rep said in a statement. "She is in a coma and has not regained consciousness since shortly after the accident."
On Aug. 12, the actress died. She was 53.
"Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul, a loving mother, and a loyal friend," a rep for the star told PEOPLE in a statement on behalf of Heche's family and friends.
"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."