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US actress Anne Heche dies at the age of 53
Anne Heche was an Emmy and Tony Award-nominated actress - Photo. Reuters

US actress Anne Heche is legally dead but will remain on life support to allow for a possible organ donation, her representative has said, according to the BBC.

"Today we lost a bright light, a kind and most joyful soul", her family said in a statement on Friday (August 12).

The 53-year-old had been in a coma for a week after crashing her car into a house in Los Angeles, the BBC said.

According to the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), Heche's vehicle "erupted in heavy fire", which took 59 firefighters more than an hour to fully extinguish. The two-storey home she crashed into was left "uninhabitable".

As well as suffering burns, the actress was left with "a severe anoxic brain injury" - when the brain is deprived of oxygen - her family said.

A representative said the late actress is "legally dead," but added that her life-support treatment will continue temporarily to check if she may be a match for a potential organ donation.

US actress Anne Heche - Official Facebook account

"Anne will be deeply missed but she lives on through her beautiful sons, her iconic body of work, and her passionate advocacy", her family's statement said.

"Her bravery for always standing in her truth, spreading her message of love and acceptance, will continue to have a lasting impact."

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Heche appeared in films including Volcano, Donnie Brasco and the 1998 remake of Psycho.

The mother-of-two also appeared on Dancing with the Stars, the US equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing, in 2020.

Heche was born in 1969 in Ohio and her family moved around many times during her childhood.

When she was 13 years old, her father died of HIV/Aids, and she later said in her 2001 memoir Call Me Crazy that he had repeatedly raped her as a child.

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In interviews promoting the book, she said the abuse caused her to be "insane" for the first 31 years of her life and that she had created a fantasy world called the "Fourth Dimension" to make herself feel safe.

After her family relocated to Chicago, Heche was spotted by a talent agent in a school play.

She became known in the late 1980s for portraying twins Vicky Hudson and Marley Love on the soap opera Another World. The roles won her a Daytime Emmy Award and two Soap Opera Digest Awards.

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She received an Emmy nomination for her role as Roweena Lawson in the 2004 TV film Gracie's Choice, about a teenage girl who tries to raise her siblings on her own after their drug-addicted mother is sent to jail.

The same year, she was nominated for best actress at the Tony Awards after performing opposite Alec Baldwin in a Broadway production of Twentieth Century.

Source: BBC