Late Anne Heche Memoir: Why She Risked Career for Ellen

Anne Heche
(ABC/Frank Ockenfels) ANNE HECHE

Actress and Dancing with the Stars season 29 alum Anne Heche died in August after a fiery car crash in Los Angeles. She left behind two sons, Homer and Atlas and an unfinished memoir.

People has an excerpt from the memoir, Call Me Anne, due out on January 24. In it, the late actress shares her thoughts on her three year relationship with Ellen Degeneres, which began in 1997.

Anne and Ellen came out during a time when entertainers were almost always in the closet, for fear the disclosure would end their careers. Indeed, the network canceled Ellen’s sitcom and she would struggle until kicking off her daytime talk show in the aughts. In 1997, Anne was coming off a run of successful and/or big budget films: Donnie Brasco, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Donnie Brasco and Six Days, Seven Nights. Coming out ended her chances at an A list career in films.

Anne wrote about a confrontation she had on set: “In 1997, I began a relationship with Ellen DeGeneres and was on the set of my first starring role in a big-budget movie, Six Days, Seven Nights,” Anne wrote. “I was called into my costar Harrison Ford’s trailer one lunch break within the first week of shooting. I was met with the sight of director Ivan Reitman and Harrison sitting on one of two white pleather sofas. I hesitantly sat on the opposite white pleather sofa.”

Producers wanted her to be more like Jodie Foster who didn’t speak about her sexuality in public at the time

“They had seen the evening news. Rumors were reported that Ellen and I were pregnant. Our ‘pregnancy’ was everywhere. They showed me this as proof of why this openness about my relationship was becoming a pain in the ass for them. Why, Ivan asked me, can’t I just be like Jodie Foster? (I didn’t know what that meant. ‘Everybody knows it,’ he explained, ‘it’ being her sexuality. ‘She just doesn’t talk about it.’)”

“I found it odd that anyone thought I could get pregnant so quickly with a woman”

Anne was truly perplexed by the belief that her coming out could “ruin a movie that hadn’t even been shot.” She was also astounded that nobody asked her why she would risk her career to openly date a woman while society was hostile to LGBTQ culture. Partly it was her dad, a fundamentalist Christian and closeted gay man. He eventually died from AIDS complications. The family didn’t learn of his double life until after he died.

Anne wrote: “I had lived in a family that was built upon lies. My father hid his sexuality his entire life. When I met Ellen and she was open and honest about her sexuality, it was the most attractive and alluring quality in a person that I had ever seen. I was mesmerized by her honesty, and that is why she was the first and only woman that I ever fell in love with. I was in love with a person who had chosen to leverage her very public persona in support of the cause she was standing up for, which was LGBTQ+ rights for everybody on the planet who wanted them.

Love became my destiny.”

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