Last month, the well known actress, Anne Heche, age 53, drove her vehicle through a residential area in Los Angeles at an extremely high speed. The vehicle hit a garage, another vehicle and then crashed into a house. An ensuing fire was fought by 60 firefighters. A blunt trauma, from the crash impact, as well as smoke inhalation, ended her life. Doctors were able to keep her alive in order to utilize some of her organs to save other lives. A few days later, she was gone.
This was a shocking end to a spectacular, tragic life. Ms. Heche is survived by two sons, a young adult (Homer Laffoon) and a minor (Atlas Heche Tupper).
Heche had been in a 7 year relationship with James Tupper but that ended in 2018. Previously, she was married to Coleman Laffoon, from 2002 until 2007 and they were divorced in 2009.
It is estimated that Ms. Heche’s Estate is valued at $4 million but that is not conclusive. Her son, Homer, obtained a Court Order in mid September, appointing him as Estate Administrator. More recently, Mr. Tupper has challenged that appointment.
Anne Celeste Heche was born in Arora, Ohio, in 1969, one of 5 children of Donald and Nancy Heche. Mr. Heche apparently lead a double life. Susan Bergman, a Sister of Anne’s, wrote in her 1994 Book, Anonymity that their Father was gay and had clandestine relationships with men. He died of AIDS in 1983.
Ms. Heche wrote, in her 2001 Book Call Me Crazy, that her childhood was marked by her Father’s sexual abuse. Mrs. Heche, her Mother, disputed those claims of sexual abuse. Whatever was the case, the family story is tragic.
Of the five children in the family, only one remains alive. Mrs. Bergman died of Cancer at age 48. Nate Heche, the only son, died at age 18 in a car crash, in 1983 (the same year his Father died). Another Sister, Cynthia, lived only a few months.
From such incredible tragedy, Ms. Heche found a career. She first appeared in 1987 as a TV Soap Opera Actress in the show Another World. In the 1990’s she appeared in several movies and TV shows, until 1997, when she starred in the acclaimed film Donnie Brasco, with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp. It was a breakthrough film for Ms. Heche (and perhaps for Depp as well). The film won several awards, including an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Ms. Heche was on her way. In the span of just over a year, she appeared in a number of other well known films, including I Know What
You Did Last Summer, Wag the Dog, Psycho and Six Days and Seven Nights.
Then came the relationship with Ellen DeGeneres. The two met in 1997 and entered a very public relationship, which lasted about 3 years. But that relationship seemed to have changed Ms. Heche’s acting career. She lost some work. She said that she’d been fired from one film and did not appear in a studio movie for 10 years after that.
In 2002, however, she did appear in the well known film John Q. In the years following, she acted in a number of TV series and films. It is a long list of credits, several of which remain in the post production stage. However, none were as well known as the films of the late 1990’s
Ms. Heche had almost completed her second Memoir Call Me Anne before her death. It is scheduled for release next year.
It would appear to have been a very difficult life. The book is apparently quite telling, including about her relationship with Harrison Ford (who became a mentor), her exploration into religion and into her past trauma. Whether her acting was a way of dealing with her traumas is a possibility.
What is not known at this point (or is at least not public) is whether Ms. Heche suffered a substance abuse problem in the last several years. In any event, it seems she endured a prolific and tragic life and she died too young.
Regardless the size of Ms. Heche’s Estate, it does not appear she did any notable Estate planning. It is not surprising, given so many Actors and Actresses fail to even make Wills. Given so many of them have agents or managers, and likely Accountants as well, I find it surprising that they don’t tend to plan. Ms. Heche’s former partner, Mr. Tupper, has claimed that in 2011, Ms. Heche e-mailed him to say that she wanted her Estate held for her sons. No signed Will seems to have followed. Whether her adult Son or her former partner (Mr. Tupper) becomes Administrator will be determined in the coming weeks. Presumably, the Administrator will have some work to do because the Estate may receive further income from the book, as well as from the shows in which Ms. Heche appeared but have yet to be released and shown. The value of her Estate is, therefore, unknown now. What is more important, however, is that two young sons have lost their Mother. Ms. Heche endured a high level of tragedy, was talented and very accomplished but may have succumbed to much unresolved trauma.