Before there was Portia de Rossi, there was Anne Heche. Ellen DeGeneres dated Heche for over three years, and she was the comedian’s first public girlfriend after coming out. They had gotten the gossip mill spinning after they were spotted looking cozy at Hollywood events. But they neither confirmed nor denied they were together until they sat down with Oprah Winfrey in 1997. Sharing that her father, a church choir director, was gay but kept his sexuality a secret until weeks before he died from AIDS in 1983, Heche said the experience made her determined to live her life authentically and openly. “Live and love and have fun,” Heche said to Winfrey, who she had sworn.
Heche said the promise she made to herself was on her mind the first time she looked DeGeneres in the eye “across a crowded room.” Heche hadn’t previously been attracted to women and had only dated men, but she was immediately attracted to DeGeneres. The couple quickly fell in love, moved into a swanky LA mansion and got involved in PDA.
“We’re very happy and in love,” DeGeneres told reporters in early 2000, per ABC News. “It’s a celebration every day,” she claimed. However, the party ended after DeGeneres and Heche split in August. “It was the first time my heart was broken,” DeGeneres told the Los Angeles Times. Meanwhile, Heche was hospitalized after suffering an emotional breakdown. And when DeGeneres fell in love again, Heche de Rossi gave a clear warning about her future wife.
Anne Heche’s experience with Ellen wasn’t the best
Anne Heche’s life fell apart after her split from Ellen DeGeneres. InStyle reported that she suffered an emotional breakdown and was hospitalized after knocking on a stranger’s door and “proclaiming herself God.” Heche wrote about her battle with mental illness and childhood sexual abuse in her memoir, Call Me Crazy.
Dating DeGeneres had pushed Heche’s mental health to the limit. As soon as the couple went public, they came under fire from the media. Per Rolling Stone, DeGeneres and Heche have been accused of staging a fake relationship for the public and have been slammed for their public displays of affection and expressions of love. However, Heche bore the brunt of the bile. “Ellen is dating a hideously dressed Conehead,” wrote the Toronto National Post.
DeGeneres claimed she was shocked by the breakup. “She walked out the door and I haven’t spoken to her since,” she told the Los Angeles Times. “Everyone else is wondering what happened. I don’t know,” she continued. Heche answered the question on her podcast in 2021. She explained that she ended things because DeGeneres was much more focused on her career and building a fortune than on maintaining a healthy and happy relationship. Heche shared that she warned Portia De Rossi about the pitfalls of dating DeGeneres and told her to watch for any “red flags” that she ignored.
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Anne Heche didn’t hold back when she warned Portia about Ellen
Anne Heche didn’t hold back in her criticism of Ellen DeGeneres. She accused the comedian of controlling and dictating how she should dress because she didn’t want her friend to show her face. “Why do I look like a hippie? That’s because Ellen didn’t want me to dress sexy,” Heche said in a TikTok video of a 1998 red carpet pic of her.
She also accused DeGeneres of being a money-obsessed “bitch” and claimed she tried to ruin her acting career after the breakup. “I broke up with her because her goal was to have a lot of money,” Heche claimed during her 2021 podcast. “Mine was finding love and hers was, ‘I want $60 billion.’ “
According to ABC News, Heche left DeGeneres for cinematographer Coley Laffoon, who reportedly met Heche while filming DeGeneres for HBO. Heche shared on her podcast that Portia de Rossi was among the guests when she married the cameraman in 2001. De Rossi told Heche that she was targeting DeGeneres and asked if the new bride had any advice. Heche said she made it clear to de Rossi that she had been there, done that, and warned her it wasn’t worth the trouble. “You’re not going to be the poster boy, girl, because you know what, that poster boy has already been taken,” Heche told her. “And by the way, it wasn’t a great place.”
Portia clearly ignored Anne Heche’s warning
Portia de Rossi apparently wasn’t deterred by Anne Heche’s harsh warning about Ellen DeGeneres. Per Insider, the actor-comedian began dating in 2004, and a year later, in January 2005, DeGeneres and de Rossi made their red carpet debut as a couple. In August 2008, the couple made their union legally binding by saying, “Yes, I do.” DeGeneres and de Rossi’s marriage is still going strong 14 years later.
“We grew together as a couple, and we really consider each other and put our relationship first,” de Rossi told People in 2021. She admitted that she “couldn’t imagine spending time with anyone but her.” . DeGeneres said they are grateful and “lucky to have each other.” She joked that they’re so likable that they “eat each other’s sandwiches — no, sentences.”
DeGeneres and Anne Heche didn’t speak to each other after their nasty breakup in 2000 and eventually lost touch. However, following the news of her heartbreaking death, DeGeneres paid her respects to Heche. “This is a sad day. I send all my love to Anne’s children, family and friends,” she said tweeted.