The End of Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche

Straight or gay, Hollywood love affairs so often crash and burn.

Perhaps life in the spotlight is not really more tragic, only more public.

Just a few months ago, Heche, 31, and Ellen DeGeneres, 42, were singing each other’s praises at the premiere of HBO’s If These Walls Could Talk II. Like any show business power couple, they held hands and joint interviews, finishing each other’s sentences, trying to express the same thought.

Reporters asked what would the walls say if the walls of their $3.5 million L.A. pad could talk, more than three years after going very public?

“They’d be saying that we are very excited and we’re very happy and in love three years later,” DeGeneres said.

“Yeah,” Heche agreed. “We’re very lucky women, that we get to have what we have.”

“It’s a celebration every single day,” DeGeneres continued. “It’s kind of disgusting and crazy that we’re like … Oh, we’re so lucky.”

“Yeah,” Heche butted in. “We’re lucky, we’re so lucky.”

Now Begins the Aftermath

The HBO movie was, at least in part, a bit of wish fulfillment. Heche directed DeGeneres and Sharon Stone in a segment about a lesbian couple trying to have a baby. In the months leading up to that interview, they spoke openly about wanting to have kids. Heche even told TV Guide that she hoped to be the one to carry the child.

And DeGeneres proclaimed her love for Heche, reflecting on the death of Princess Diana and the frailty of life. “If Anne goes, I want to go,” she said. “That’s how strongly I feel.”

Yet just 3 1/2 years after Heche announced her love for DeGeneres on Oprah, it all came apart, like so many other show business love affairs. On Saturday came a report in the New York Daily News of their relationship ending, and only hours later, a shaken and incoherent Heche parked her SUV along a central California highway and wandered up to a stranger’s home.

Fresno County sheriff’s deputies answered a call from the residents and sent her to University Medical Center. The actress was released within two hours and by Monday morning, she was on a flight to Toronto, where she began work on the film John Q with Denzel Washington.

Now begins the aftermath. Representatives of Heche and DeGeneres are not yet addressing the matter. But it’s likely that a relationship that has been oh-so-open will stay in our collective consciousness for some time to come.

Heche had kept a relatively low profile for the last several months, after receiving mixed reviews starring opposite Harrison Ford in the disappointing Six Days, Seven Nights. She had spent much of the last year collaborating with DeGeneres on If These Walls Could Talk II and filming DeGeneres’s three-month standup comedy tour, which aired on HBO last month.

All the while, like a happily married woman, Heche wore a wedding ring. She and her partner seemed to have settled into domestic bliss after the public uproar that peaked with the notorious Ellen episode that had DeGeneres’s character coming out of the closet.

‘It Wasn’t Working’

Like much of their relationship, news of their split came by way of tabloid.

“Unfortunately, we have decided to end our relationship,” the actresses said in a statement in the Daily News. “It is an amicable parting, and we greatly value the 3 1/2 years we have spent together. We hope everyone will respect our privacy through this difficult time.”

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