TMZ reports that a representative for Heche’s family said that the actress is now brain dead, which is the definition of death under California law. Heche never regained consciousness after the accident, and is said to have suffered “severe anoxic brain injury” — that is, total deprivation of oxygen to the brain.
Heche got her start on the soap opera Another World in 1987, playing good/evil twins. She worked steadily, if not prolifically, from then until her death. Her most famous roles were probably in two 1998 films: the romantic comedy Six Days Seven Nights (paired with an aging Harrison Ford, and becoming his youngest-ever screen girlfriend), and in Gus Van Sant‘s remake of the horror classic Psycho, with Heche playing the doomed Marion Crane.
Heche’s onscreen work never quite matched her celebrity for two other things: First, she was in a romantic relationship with comedian and TV star Ellen DeGeneres from 1997-2000, making them (at the time) one of Hollywood’s only openly-gay couples. After their breakup, DeGeneres had a much-publicized episode of mental breakdown, in which she was found on a farm near Fresno, California, claiming that she was named ‘Celestia’ and was waiting for a spaceship to take her to heaven. (Heche turned the tables in 2001 by publishing a memoir with the title Call Me Crazy.)
“Life support machines are keeping Anne’s heart beating for the purpose of preserving her organs for donations,” says TMZ. “However, the rep made it clear … Anne has no brain function.” A sad end indeed.
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