Update: A rep from Heche’s family has issued the following statement: “We have 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.”
Earlier: Anne Heche has been declared legally dead at the age of 53, TMZ reports, a week after a car crash that took place in Los Angeles on Friday, August 5. The actress spent the week in the hospital, where she was treated for a pulmonary injury and severe burns before passing away on August 12. She had been in a coma the entire time. When her vehicle burst into flames, the smoke inhalation resulted in oxygen not getting to her brain, which caused irreparable brain damage.
Heche currently has no brain function — the legal definition of death in the state of California — but remains on life support to preserve her organs for donation. It has long been her choice to donate her organs.
IndieWire has reached out to Heche’s reps for additional comment, but a statement from her family and friends was released late on Thursday when it was announced she “was not expected to survive”:
“We want to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers for Anne’s recovery and thank the dedicated staff and wonderful nurses that cared for Anne at the Grossman Burn Center at West Hills hospital.
“Unfortunately, due to her accident, Anne Heche suffered a severe anoxic brain injury and remains in a coma, in critical condition. She is not expected to survive.
“Anne had a huge heart and touched everyone she met with her generous spirit. More than her extraordinary talent, she saw spreading kindness and joy as her life’s work — especially moving the needle for acceptance of who you love. She will be remembered for her courageous honesty and dearly missed for her light.”
The late actress was born in 1969 in Aurora, Ohio, but moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting shortly before her high school graduation. Heche first found success as a soap opera star, joining the cast of “Another World” in 1984. She played twins Vicky Hudson and Marley Love on the show for seven years. Her dueling roles on the show won her a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series in 1991.
Heche then appeared in primetime television and major movies, making her primetime debut on an episode of “Murphy Brown.” In theaters throughout the 1990s, Heche joined the casts of “Donnie Brasco,” “I Know What You Did Last Summer,” “Wag the Dog,” and more. She had top billing alongside Harrison Ford in “Six Days Seven Nights” in 1998 and played Marion Crane, the role made famous by Janet Leigh, in a 1998 remake of “Psycho.”
Heche continued to work consistently throughout the 2000s, often appearing in independent films and television roles. She earned a Primetime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie in 2004 for her performance in “Gracie’s Choice,” opposite Kristen Bell. Heche also had notable roles in “Spread,” “Cedar Rapids,” and “Birth.” She also wrote and directed the 2001 made-for-TV movie “Reaching Normal” and served as co-creator and executive producer of the NBC sitcom “Bad Judge.”
In her final years, Heche was a fixture on a variety of network dramas including “The Brave,” “All Rise,” “Quantico,” and “Chicago P.D.” She had completed filming for a number of projects before her sudden death, reportedly including the disaster thriller “Supercell,” in which she stars alongside Alec Baldwin, and the horror thriller “Full Ride” with Dermot Mulroney.
Heche is survived by her sister Abigail and her two sons, Homer and Atlas Heche Tupper.