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Susan Bergman, 48; Wrote of Her Father's Secret Life as a Gay Man

January 04, 2006|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Susan Bergman, 48, an author and writing teacher, whose 1994 book "Anonymity" dealt with her father's death from AIDS, died of brain cancer Sunday at her home in Barrington, Ill., according to her husband, Judson.

"Anonymity," which she began as her doctoral dissertation, reflected on her past after learning in 1983 that her dying father, Don Heche, had a secret life as a gay man.

The discovery led to self-examination by family members, and she came to a new understanding of everyone in her family, Bergman said. One of her sisters is actress Anne Heche, who had a widely reported relationship with comedian Ellen DeGeneres from 1997 to 2000. Anne Heche is now married and a mother.

Bergman was born in Bloomington, Ind. She received a bachelor's degree from Wheaton College in 1979 and a doctorate in literature from Northwestern.

She lectured and taught literature at Northwestern, New York University and the University of Notre Dame. She also was a contributing writer and editor for many magazines and literary publications.

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