New Zealand markets closed
  • NZX 50

    11,065.71
    -134.33 (-1.20%)
     
  • NZD/USD

    0.5598
    -0.0133 (-2.32%)
     
  • NZD/EUR

    0.5703
    -0.0129 (-2.22%)
     
  • ALL ORDS

    6,678.70
    -81.90 (-1.21%)
     
  • ASX 200

    6,474.20
    -80.80 (-1.23%)
     
  • OIL

    79.74
    -1.49 (-1.83%)
     
  • GOLD

    1,668.30
    -0.30 (-0.02%)
     
  • NASDAQ

    10,971.22
    -193.56 (-1.73%)
     
  • FTSE

    6,893.81
    +12.22 (+0.18%)
     
  • Dow Jones

    28,725.51
    -500.10 (-1.71%)
     
  • DAX

    12,114.36
    +138.81 (+1.16%)
     
  • Hang Seng

    17,222.83
    +56.96 (+0.33%)
     
  • NIKKEI 225

    25,937.21
    -484.84 (-1.83%)
     
  • NZD/JPY

    80.9920
    -1.7550 (-2.12%)
     

Anne Heche, Star of Another World and Men in Trees , Dies at 53

·6-min read

Emmy Award-winning actress Anne Heche has died, PEOPLE has learned. 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 tells 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."

The family's rep confirms to PEOPLE that, while Heche is legally dead according to California law, her heart is still beating and she has not been taken off life support in order to allow OneLegacy Foundation enough time to find recipients who will be a match.

For more on Anne Heche, listen below to our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day.

Heche's older of two sons, Homer20, also expressed his sadness in an exclusive statement to PEOPLE.

"My brother Atlas and I lost our Mom," he says. "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."

He went on to acknowledge the outpouring of love he and his family has received from around the world.

"Over those six days, thousands of friends, family, and fans made their hearts known to me," he says. "I am grateful for their love, as I am for the support of my Dad, Coley, and my stepmom Alexi who continue to be my rock during this time. Rest In Peace Mom, I love you."

Anne Heche photographed by Gregory Arlt
Anne Heche photographed by Gregory Arlt

Gregory Arlt Anne Heche

RELATED: Anne Heche's Eldest Son Homer Speaks Out After Her Death: 'I Am Left with a Deep, Wordless Sadness'

The news comes a week after she crashed her car into a house in the Mar Vista neighborhood of Los Angeles, leaving the home destroyed and the actress in critical condition.

She never regained consciousness.

On Thursday, her rep shared that the prognosis was dire. "Unfortunately, due to her accident, Anne suffered a severe anoxic brain injury and remains in a coma, in critical condition," the rep told PEOPLE in a statement on behalf of Heche's family. "She is not expected to survive. It has long been her choice to donate her organs and she's being kept on life support to determine if any are viable."

The statement also expressed gratitude for the outpouring of support and for the care shown Heche in the aftermath of the devastating crash on Aug. 5.

"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," the statement read.

MAMMOTH LAKES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 29: Anne Heche poses for portrait at 3rd Annual Mammoth Film Festival Portrait Studio – Saturday on February 29, 2020 in Mammoth Lakes, California. (Photo by Michael Bezjian/Getty Images for Mammoth Media Institute)
MAMMOTH LAKES, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 29: Anne Heche poses for portrait at 3rd Annual Mammoth Film Festival Portrait Studio – Saturday on February 29, 2020 in Mammoth Lakes, California. (Photo by Michael Bezjian/Getty Images for Mammoth Media Institute)

Michael Bezjian/Getty for Mammoth Media Institute Anne Heche

Heche's career spanned decades and included memorable roles on TV, film and the stage. She rose to fame in the late '80s and '90s with her roles in the soap opera Another World (1987–1991) and films VolcanoWag the DogI Know What You Did Last SummerSix Days Seven Nights and the 1998 remake of Psycho. She is also known for her role in the 2004 film Gracie's Choice, for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for best supporting actress, and the ABC romantic comedy series Men in Trees, which aired from 2006 to 2008.

WATCH: Remembering Anne Heche

Shortly after releasing her first memoir, Call Me Crazy, in 2001, Heche made her Broadway debut in 2002 in a production of Proof, a Pulitzer Prize-winning drama, and starred alongside Alec Baldwin in Broadway's Twentieth Century in 2004. She was nominated for Tony Award in best actress in a play.

The actress remained busy through the latter part of her career, with myriad projects, including her podcast Better Together with Anne & Heather, beside Heather Duffy, and a starring role in Lifetime's Girl in Room 13. She also appeared in Netflix's Peter Facinelli-directed psychological thriller The Vanished, the 2021 disaster film 13 Minutes and on OWN's legal drama All Rise. She also appears in HBO Max's upcoming series The Idol.

SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 09: Anne Heche attends the 24th CDGA (Costume Designers Guild Awards on March 09, 2022 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)
SANTA MONICA, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 09: Anne Heche attends the 24th CDGA (Costume Designers Guild Awards on March 09, 2022 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)

Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

In addition to her career, Heche found herself in the public eye for dating Ellen DeGeneres from 1997 until 2000.

In 2020, Heche opened up about the public perception of their relationship and how it affected her career during an episode of Dancing with the Stars.

"My movie premiere for Volcano, I had told them that I was taking Ellen as my date and I was told if I took Ellen I would lose my Fox contract," she claimed on the dancing series, where she competed for the Mirrorball Trophy with professional dance partner Keo Motsepe. "At that moment, she took my hand and said, 'Do what they say,' and I said, 'No thanks.' 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 after party for fear that they would get pictures of me with a woman."

"She was warning me, 'This is going to happen,'" Heche continued. "I was in a relationship with Ellen DeGeneres for three-and-a-half years and 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."

Heche further discussed the details of her relationship with DeGeneres, telling Mr. Warburton magazine in August 2020 that she was "part of a revolution that created social change, and I could not have done that without falling in love with her."

RELATED VIDEO: Anne Heche on the Discrimination She Faced After Going Public with Her Relationship with Ellen DeGeneres

Heche added that she is "proud to have been part of a revolution that helped move equality forward."

"But there is still work to do," she said. "I've paved this way for myself, and my honesty had every single thing to do with it. I think every interaction we have should begin with whether or not we can look at and talk to other human beings with 100 percent respect. My answer will always be 'yes.' We have to agree that it's a possibility and that we all deserve it."

In 2001, Heche married Coleman "Coley" Laffoon and had her first child, a son, Homer, now 20. The couple divorced in 2009.

Heche went on to have a relationship with actor James Tupper and the two had a son, Atlas, now 13. The two dated for 10 years before separating in 2018.

A proud mom to her two boys, Heche last posted about them on Mother's Day, writing below a photo of Homer and Atlas, her arms slung around them, "#luckiestmom."

As for her legacy, "Anne had a huge heart and touched everyone she met with her generous spirit," the rep for Heche tells PEOPLE on behalf of the family. "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."