Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche – they weathered the loss of jobs, once loyal fans, and even family in order to be together. However, their relationship, like so many in Hollywood, just wasn’t built to last.
How Did Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche Meet?
The year was 1997. The setting: the Vanity Fair-hosted post-Academy Award ceremony soiree. According to Heche, “I saw the most ravishing woman I had ever seen in my life standing across the room. Her name was Ellen DeGeneres. She was radiating.
“I think at certain times in people’s lives, you just radiate an energy and a glow of fabulousness. And that was her! I had never seen anybody so lit up. And when we started talking, and I asked her for her number … she said … ‘What are you doing? There’s a reporter right here. Do you have any idea … who I am?'”
The two reportedly decamped to Ellen’s abode and made love. Says Heche, “Ellen and I met on a Sunday night…Tuesday was her coming out episode of the Ellen show. Wednesday was the press junket for [my movie] Volcano. Thursday was the opening of Volcano.”
That star-studded, red carpet premiere of the Tommy Lee Jones/Heche-starring action-adventure served as the burgeoning couple’s “coming out.”
“We went to the premiere…we were tapped on the shoulder, put into her limo in the third act and told that we couldn’t have pictures of us taken at the press junket. And both she and I were fired that week.”
Living Their Lives
Subsequently, the pair appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show to discuss their relationship. During the interview, Heche recalled that she and Ellen had “clicked” and that “Our souls connect[ed], and there’s a time when souls come together and they’re just meant to be… My soul was meant to be with hers and that’s all that matters.”
For a time, the couple used their celebrity to bring awareness to the plight of the LBGTQ community, raise necessary funds, and lobby for legislation that offered the community some measures of protection such as the Hate Crime Prevention Act.
But, life in the proverbial fishbowl took its toll and they briefly relocated to rural Ojai. After their return to Los Angeles, Heche became DeGeneres’ defacto director. She helmed a segment of the HBO anthology film If These Walls Could Talk II – in which DeGeneres played opposite Sharon Stone – and she also toiled on a behind-the-scenes documentary detailing DeGeneres’ return to comedy in the HBO special Ellen DeGeneres: The Beginning.
Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche Call It Quits
August 19, 2000: DeGeneres and Heche’s representatives released the following statement. “Unfortunately, we have decided to end our relationship. It’s an amicable parting, and we greatly value the 3 1/2 years we have spent together.” They had been spotted house-hunting, hands interlocked, just 10 days previously.
One month later, Heche, recently recovered from a psychotic breakdown and in the midst of a serious courtship with future husband Coleman Laffoon [their marriage would end in 2009], stated, “No matter what you’ve heard, I love Ellen DeGeneres. She’s a genius…She is a marvelous woman so dear to my life and I love her.”
A year later, DeGeneres told a reporter from the Los Angeles Times, “She [Heche] walked out the door and I haven’t spoken to her since, I don’t have the answers. I would love to have them myself. I would ask all of the questions that everyone else wants to ask… I feel betrayed…
“And I know him [Heche’s husband, Coleman Laffoon]. He was on my tour with me, he was like my brother… What I don’t mind saying is, it was the first time I ever had my heartbroken.”