Anne Heche Getting Bones from the Table of Joy

Jennifer Kathleen Gibbons
6 min readAug 12, 2022

Right now, Anne Heche is on life support. This can change any minute. All I could think was she only got crumbs and bones from the table of joy.

Anne Heche has blonde hair cut to her chin.
Anne Heche in 2001

The news has been reporting on her the past week: how she crashed into a woman’s home and also crashed into a garage at an apartment complex. TMZ made sure they had the photos of her being put in an ambulance, a closeup of her burned back. Pictures of her burnt to a crisp Mini Cooper also made the rounds as well. I thought of her mother, who will lose a third child (Her sister writer Susan Bergman died in 2006; brother Nathan also died in a car accident in 1983) Her story was long and complicated. I’ll try to break it down but it was many miles of bad road.

Anne was born to Nancy and Donald Heche in 1969. She loved performing, loved being the star. The family was born again, so much so that her mother frowned on Anne being friendly with a Jewish girl because in Nancy’s words they were “sinners.” Being a rebel, Anne stayed friends with the girl.

Donald Heche was a different story. While he went to church and praised God, he was also sexually abusing his daughter (a charge both Nancy Heche and Bergman said was untrue) She had herpes at age eight, but her mother ignored the symptoms. The Heche family moved around a lot because Donald had lots of get rich schemes, nothing working out. In 1982 he moved to New York City. Bergman would later write one time she saw her father at Grand Central Station loitering near the men’s room, and that he had poppers and a toupee near his bedside.Heche noticed he had lost a tremendous amount of weight, which he said was due to hepatitis. The roomates he said he had, but never seen. In March 1983, Donald Heche died of AIDS. Three months later, her brother had his fatal car accident.

In 1985 Anne and Nancy were living in Chicago. Anne was in a Thorton Wilder play when a woman approached her. The woman was with Procter and Gamble, would Anne like to audition for the soap opera As the World Turns? Oh yeah. Anne and Nancy went to the audition, then Anne was offered the part. Nancy refused. Anne had no choice; she was only sixteen. She thought she never escape her mother. Two years later, John Whitesell, the executive producer of Another World, had seen her audition tape. Would she be interested in auditioning for a part? She got the part. She was eighteen. Once she graduated high school, she moved to New York City.

Heche’s blonde hair is in a ponytail. She’s on the phone and looks very stressed out.
Heche as Vicky Hudson

Rereading about Anne’s time with Another World, she commented on how everyone on set-from Whitesell to her on-screen parents Kale Browne and Anna Stuart, were lovely to her. I now understand it was probably the first time in her life she had received genuine kindness. She was intimidated though; she was going to be playing twins! She would play Vicky and Marley. Vicky was the bad girl who dressed like Madonna. Marley was the good girl who dressed in modestly. Did I mention the first actress to play Vicky/Marley Ellen Wheeler won an Emmy for the role? But Anne made the role her own. Playing twins is sure-fire Emmy bait, and she won in 1991. By then she had left the show, off to film an adaptation of Willa Cather’s O, Pioneers!

Heche is Marley Love-Hudson, the “good” twin

She did several movies, but started getting noticed when she did an independent movie called Walking and Talking. In 1997 she received more high profile roles, including an action-comedy/adventure film Six Days, Seven Nights with Harrison Ford. But a new relationship she had was getting more attention than her acting: She was dating Ellen DeGeneres, who just declared that yep, she was gay.

It was huge news; the women found themselves being targeted by the media. DeGeneres’ character in her sitcom Ellen just came out as well. In 1998, the show was canceled. Anne’s career took a hit too; the parts were drying up. She did star in Gus Van Sant’s remake of Psycho, which bombed at the box office. Add to that Steve Martin took a swipe at her in the movie Bowfinger (Martin and Anne dated briefly) with a female character sleeping with everyone then at the end of the film introduced her new high profile girlfriend to her colleagues. Ouch.

Ellen has short blonde hair and is wearing a black pantsuit. Anne also has short blonde hair, wearing a black jacket, and John Lennon like glasses.
Ellen and Anne at the 1998 Golden Globes

In 2000, everything fell apart. Her last two movies didn’t do well. Then DeGeneres broke up with her. She drove to a small town in Fresno county, only wearing a bra and shorts, high on ectasy. She walked to a house and told the owner she needed water. The woman was kind enough to let her in. While taking a shower, the woman called 911. When they arrived, Anne said she was “God, and was going to take everyone back to heaven in a spaceship.” A year later she revealed she spent time in a psychiatric unit. She also said she imagined a world called the Fourth Dimension so she could feel secure. She also had an alter ego who was the daughter of God named “Celestia” who was friendly with extra terrestials. Celestia was probably inspired by her middle name, Celeste. But she insisted she was better, better than she had been all her life.

People mocked her at once. God’s daughter? Extra terrestrials? What a knee slapper. As mentioned, her mother, Susan Bergman, and her other sister Abigail denied the alleged sexual abuse. I just felt sorry for Anne. It’s hard admitting you have mental health problems. In the United States, it’s almost impossible. It makes people uncomfortable, nervous. They rather make fun than be kind.

Her career bounced back. She did do a TV show called Men In Trees, and kept working in TV movies and miniseries, did many co-starring roles. In 2020 she did Dancing with the Stars. She just finished filming a miniseries. She married twice and had two sons. But last week something happened. Was it a gradual thing? Was it building up inside her? Whatever it was, she ended up crashing into a woman’s house, destroying it. Wednesday she was being investigated for drunk driving. Thursday night her family announced she was not expected to survive.

There’s been debates on Twitter that people shouldn’t feel sorry for Anne, feel sorry for the woman whose house was demolished. Personally, I think we can feel empathy for both Anne and the other woman. No one in their right mind gets up in the morning and thinks “You know, I think I’ll go for a ride and crash into someone’s house, leaving them homeless. I’ll also hit an apartment garage too for kicks. I’ll also suffer burns on my back and be in horrible pain. It will be fun!” Maybe we’ll find out what happened, maybe we won’t. But all I could think of was a poem by Langston Hughes called “Luck.”

Sometimes a crumb falls
From the tables of joy,
Sometimes a bone
Is flung.

To some people
Love is given,
To others
Only heaven.

Anne Heche was flung bones from the table of joy. Did she get to sit there? I don’t know. What I hope for is that love was given to her, because she needed it.