The stand-up comedian and hugely successful U.S. TV
talk show host was born Ellen Lee DeGeneres in Metairie, Louisiana
on January 26, 1958.
comedic talent was said to have been evident early on - as she
tried to cheer her mother through a bout of depression and relocation
Orleans, following her parent's divorce.
high school in 1976, DeGeneres spent a semester at the University
of New Orleans, but dropped out to pursue a career in stand-up,
working her way from local clubs and TV shows to win Showtime's
Funniest Person in America contest in 1982.
sealed her reputation was a famous debut on Johnny Carson's Tonight
Show in 1986, when she became the first female comic to be honored
with a "couch" interview following her routine.
her career exploded with a cross-country tour, a handful of cable
TV specials, followed by small roles on the short-lived sitcoms,
Duet and Open House.
By the early
90's, DeGeneres starred in her own sitcom, These Friends of
Mine which was later revamped as Ellen, a big hit that
ran for four seasons and garnered the actress two Emmy
The rise and fall and rise of Ellen
Ellen on the cover of TIME magazine, April 14, 1997.
The show reached
its height In 1997, when DeGeneres made national headlines after
publicly declaring that she was a lesbian and announced that in
an upcoming episode, her television character would also do the
In a move that was still very controversial at the time, DeGeneres became a pioneer of the modern gay community as one of the first celebrities to declare her sexual orientation publicly
In April 1997,
the "outing" episode became one of the highest rated
of the season.
At the same time, her relationship with former Another World actress Anne
Heche turned into fodder for the tabloid press. The backlash from her announcement and openly gay lifestyle resulted in Ellen
being canceled the following year. (DeGeneres tried again a
few years later with The Ellen
Show, a sitcom that was also quickly canceled.)
Despite the controversy, Ellen remained open about her sexuality and waited as public attitudes changed with the times -- and, by 2003, Ellen was back, this time with a celebrated talk show that was an almost "overnight" success.
"Keep swimming, keep swimming"
As the voice
of Dory in the animated
hit "Finding Nemo" in 2003.
Ellen DeGeneres Show was nominated for 11 and won
Emmys in its first year, including Best Talk Show in 2003.
More praise was heaped upon DeGeneres that year for a signature
stand-up performance on cable TV entitled Ellen
DeGeneres: Here and Now, and for her role as the memory-challenged
"Dory" in the animated film Finding
Nemo, a worldwide hit.
DeGeneres took the international spotlight again the following year when she took over hosting duties at the 79th Annual Oscar
Awards. Traditionally panned by TV critics, the Oscar presentation that year won reviews that heaped praise upon its host. ( In short, there simply " wasn't enough Ellen".)
In yet another
surprise move in 2009, Ellen made the startling announcement
that she would be replacing Paula Abdul in the 9th season of American
Idol, becoming the much-anticipated 4th judge on the full-time
While keeping night hours on the popular FOX mega-hit, DeGeneres
continued to keep her day job. The judging gig lasted all of one season before the popular talk show host went back to her daytime duties.
Ellen on the set of the award-winning daytime hit, The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
In 2014, Ellen returned to primetime when she took center stage as host of the Oscar Awards for the second time. Hollywood beckons again as DeGeneres reprises her voice role as Dory in "Finding Dory", the sequel to the original Disney animated film, "Finding Nemo", due for release in 2016.
On a personal note
Off the set,
Ellen has been in a relationship with actress Portia
de Rossi whom she married following a state Supreme Court
ruling making gay marriage legal in California in 2008. The wedding
took place on August 16th that same year with Ellen wearing white trousers
and tux vest while Portia was decked out in a flowing white wedding
dress. The ceremony was held in the couple's Beverly Hills home
attended only by close friends and family.
More about Ellen DeGeneres around the Web:
DeGeneres Show - The official site featuring video clips,
pictures, episode guide, fun stuff, and ticket information on
attending the live taping in Burbank.