Ellen DeGeneres is a household name, finding her way to our television screens and into her audience’s hearts. Millions of viewers from around the country tune in to her daytime talk show, which has won countless awards and honors. From a meek girl living in Louisiana, to an independent woman, to coming out to audiences about her sexual orientation, Ellen is a figure that inspires and astonishes. However, there are some facts about this inspirational figure that may surprise you.
Ellen DeGeneres was born and raised in Metairie, Lousiana and is the daughter of Betty DeGeneres, a speech therapist, and Elliott Everett DeGeneres, an insurance agent. She has one brother, Vance, who is a musician and producer
She Was Molested By Her Stepfather
Ellen has revealed that her mother had many boyfriends growing up after her parents divorced, leaving her to stand her ground against men as a young girl. When she was 16-years-old, her mother’s third husband ended up molesting her. During this time, Ellen’s mother had undergone a mastectomy, and Ellen’s stepfather said he wanted to feel Ellen’s chest to make sure he knew what a healthy chest felt like. During another situation, one of her mother’s boyfriends had tried to break into Ellen’s bedroom. In order for her to escape she had to climb out of her window and spend the night in a hospital to keep away from him.
She Was Raised As A Christian Scientist
Both Ellen and her brother were raised in a family of Christian Scientists, but Ellen only associated with religion until she was about 13. People who follow this religion do not believe in medication or doctors. Ellen has even admitted she didn’t have an aspirin until she was a teenager. She had to participate in testimonies on a weekly basis, and because of her religion she endured a strict upbringing.
Ellen used to live in the apartment that was used in the film Annabelle. While promoting the movie she admitted that, “The apartment in the movie was my first apartment that I moved to in L.A. That was the building I lived in;where they shot the movie. I was watching it going: ‘That looks familiar’, and it was my building. It was scary back then too.”
Beginning of Comedy
Ellen’s career officially began in 1980 when she began performing in clubs and coffee shops. The next year she became an MC at New Orleans’ Clyde’s Comedy Club, and the year after that she was named ‘Funniest Person in America’ by Showtime.
Ellen’s big debut came to her in 1986 when The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson sent a booking agent to catch her act at the Improv in Hollywood after receiving a tip from Jay Leno. As a result, Ellen appeared on The Tonight Show and at that time earned the title as being the only female comedian to be invited by Johnny Carson to sit on the famous “couch” during her first visit.
She Has A Comedy Album
In 1996, DeGeneres recorded one of her stand-up specials in Portland, OR, and released it as an album entitled Taste This. Unfortunately it went out of print in 2008.
Her wit and humor won over audiences, and she found success as an actress with her own prime-time sitcom entitled, Ellen. The show faced strong criticism in April 1997, when DeGeneres’ character became the first lead in sitcom history to acknowledge her homosexuality on air. Fearing controversy, some of the shows sponsors withdrew their advertisements and an ABC affiliate in Alabama, refused to air the episode. Despite the groundbreaking place in television history, supportive audience and an Emmy Award for the coming-out episode, the show was canceled in 1998.
She Was a Film Star
In 1996, DeGeneres made it to the big screen by starring in the dark comedy, Mr. Wrong as a woman in search of the perfect man. She also appeared in the comedy EdTV, with Matthew McConaughey, and the television movie If These Walls Could Talk 2, in which she shared a famous love scene with Sharon Stone.
Her Talk Show
Her talk show has been a massive success amongst audiences. The show itself has won a total of 33 Daytime Emmy Awards, four of them being for Outstanding Talk Show (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007), and three for Outstanding Talk Show Entertainment, (2010, 2011, 2013).
She Loves Her Mom
Ellen reserves the best seat in the audience for her Mom, Betty, who Ellen spent her teen years with after her parents divorce.
She Never Dated Johnathon Schaech
Schaech was often seen on Ellen’s arm during red carpet events throughout the 90s, which sparked speculation that they were a couple. In 2016, he cleared up the confusion explaining that Ellen was afraid people wouldn’t watch her show because she was gay, so her manager asked him to accompany her to events.
She Had A Breakdown After A Breakup
Before Portia, Ellen dated Anne Heche until 2000. The two filed a joint statement to end their relationship after 3 and a half years together. Ellen admitted that she had doubts during the relationship about Anne’s love for her and she truly experienced a broken heart after the split.
Portia De Rossi
Ellen became involved with actress Portia de Rossi in December 2004. They were married on August 16th, 2008, in what was the highest-profile gay marriage ceremony as California legalized the unions. It was in 2010 when de Rossi was allowed to legally change her name to Portia Lee James DeGeneres.
Seeing as Ellen is so youthful, you probably wouldn’t of guessed the big 15-year age difference between her and Portia. Ellen recently celebrated her 60th birthday, while Portia celebrated her 45th.
Turned Down Roles
Before starring in her own sitcom, Ellen turned down a role on famous 90s sitcom, Friends. Although it sounds like a poor decision, her career seems to have turned out just fine.
Ellen was also offered to play the lead role in Speed, that eventually ended up going to Sandra Bullock, co-starring with Keanu Reeves.
Ellen is the second woman in history to host the Academy Awards, Whoopi Goldberg being the first. When you consider that the Oscars have been going on since 1929, this is an incredible accomplishment!
She Was Sued By Many Record Labels
In 2009, Ellen was sued by record labels due to copyright issues. According to these labels, Ellen had played over a thousand songs on her show without permission or paying for licenses. Eventually, The Ellen Show and record labels ended up resolving the issues.
Madonna is her 11th Cousin
Surprisingly, Ellen and Madonna share the same 10th great-grandfather, Martin Aucoin from France. Both of their families lived in Nova Scotia after immigrating from France, their homeland. In the late 1700s, Ellen’s family left for Louisiana, while Madonna’s family left Canada in the 1870s to head to Michigan. Another weird similarity between the two is that they were born in the same year!
Her Net Worth is $285 Million
According to a report done in 2015, Ellen rakes in about $70 million every year, due to her daytime talk show, her books, and position as a Covergirl spokeswoman. Ellen is also a producer for television and film, a comedian, voice actress, and a screenwriter.
She Drove By Her Ex’s Car Crash
In her 20s, Ellen dated poet Kat Perkoff who was also the owner of a lesbian bar in New Orleans. Ellen decided to leave Kat after Kat cheated on her. Unfortunately, Kat got into a car accident, which Ellen herself drove past, not knowing it was Kat. It was during this time that Ellen began questioning God and her beliefs.
Her Brother is Funnier Than Her
Ellen grew up in Louisiana and spent most of her time outside on a bike exploring while her brother was the one making all the jokes. Ellen’s comedic side came out after the experience of her parents divorcing to deal with tough times.
In 2017, Ellen faced backlash due to an objectifying comment she made about Katy Perry’s breasts to which she said, “It’s time to bring out the balloons”. The joke was that it was Perry’s birthday, but Ellen was also clearly making a pun about her breasts. Audiences claimed that especially in the current cultural climate of assault and objectification cases in Hollywood, the comment was highly inappropriate. Some people claimed that this was an example of the double-standards between men and women.
She Won’t Wear Dresses
There’s a little to no chance that you will ever see DeGeneres sporting a dress. DeGeneres would rather wear a suit to any kind of formal event, something that is well known and respected amongst Hollywood. During an interview with W Magazine, the interview made note that although DeGeneres was asked to wear a dress for the cover shoot, she stood her ground and was unwavering in her decision not to.
She’s In The Mile High Club
During a game of “Never Have I Ever”, Ellen asked her guests, Johnny Depp and Gwyneth Paltrow if they’ve joined the Mile High Club. Both answered yes, but what was more shocking was Ellen’s response to which she answered, “yes”, as well.
Her Show Helped Cast Other Celebs
Producers would go back to old clips in Ellen’s show to see how she interacted with various stars in order to cast them. Producer Lindsey Collins said that they cast Ty Burrell, Diane Keaton, and Eugene Levy this way.
She’s Had A Number Of Odd Jobs
Before being a famous comedian and television personality, Ellen took on a series of odd jobs. She worked as a bartender, a paralegal, a vacuum cleaner salesman, a TGI Friday waitress, and an oyster shucker.
She Never Went To College
Although Ellen is a college dropout, in 2009, she received an honorary doctoral degree from Tulane University in New Orleans, and she delivered the keynote speech at the University’s commencement.
Growing up, Ellen had dreams of becoming a veterinarian, but she believed she wasn’t a good enough student. Throughout her whole life she made it a point that she was an animal lover, and when she married Portia de Rossi in 2008, they served only vegan food at their wedding reception. These days the couple resides on a farm surrounded by cows, dogs and horses.
Ellen is also the co-owner of Halo. Halo’s mission is to provide people and their pets with honest information and wholesome products to better the lives of animals and the people who love them.
She Supports Charities
DeGeneres uses her show as a place to encourage others to donate to charity. Her most famous episodes is when Mark Wahlberg did pull-ups that were worth $1K each for breast cancer research. Wahlberg did 23 pull-ups in 30 seconds and Ulta Beauty donated $25,000.
She’s The Global Envoy For Aids Awareness
On top of using her show to raise money for charity, Ellen also uses her show to raise awareness for causes. In fact, Hillary Clinton named Ellen, Global Envoy for Aids Awareness. In response, Ellen said, “The fight against AIDS is something that has always been close to my heart. I’m happy that I can use my platform to educate people and spread hope.”
Most Likely Too…
How did Ellen celebrate her thirty-year class reunion? By flying them out to California to be guests on her show of course. In 2006, she presented Atlanta High School with a surprise gift of a new electronic LED marquee sign.
She’s Always On Time
Ellen is known in Hollywood for her professionalism and punctuality. It is said that she consistently shows up early for interviews, appearances and photoshoots! Guess other celebrities should take a note from Ellen.
Easy, Breezy, Beautiful
In 2008, Ellen DeGeneres became a CoverGirl and has been featured in a string of commercials with fellow covergirl, Sofia Vergara.
As part of the Universe of Energy at EPCOT, she is the main character in Ellen’s Energy Adventure. During the ride, the audience is transported to Ellen’s brain which becomes a time machine taking them through forests where dinosaurs live.
Most Retweeted Tweet
Amongst all the other awards Ellen has won, there’s a more interesting record Ellen broke when she hosted the Academy Awards. During hosting, she orchestrated a selfie that became the most retweeted image ever. The photo of 12 celebrities broke the previous retweet record within 40 minutes and was retweeted more than 1.8 million times in the first hour.
Home Sweet Home
Ellen’s home in Los Angeles was purchased for almost $40 million. The house is 2.3 acres, with a gym, pool, pool house, and a tennis court, since Ellen is an avid tennis player. Ellen is also interested in architecture real estate and she sold her previous home for $21 million after buying it for $17 million.
She’s an Author
In 1995, Ellen became an author when she wrote the comical, “My Point….and I do Have One.” The book was so popular that it climbed to the number one slot on the New York Times bestsellers list. It stayed on the list for 24 weeks.
She’s an Upstanding Civilian
In 2017, Ellen received the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama, which is the highest possible award for a civilian in the United States.
Dory Was Supposed To Be a Boy
Her role in Disney’s Finding Nemo, was originally supposed to be a male companion for Marlin. Ellen was cast after the director, Andrew Stanton heard her on her TV Show that was playing in the background. After hearing her change multiple topics in one sentence, he thought she was hilarious and decided to make the character a female, platonic companion.
DeGeneres opened the show at the David Lynch Foundation’s third annual “Change Begins Within” gala at the L.A. County Museum of Art to raise funds to bring Transcendental Meditation to at-risk populations suffering from chronic stress and stress disorders. Ellen says that, “TM is the only time I have that stillness…it gives me this peaceful feeling, and I love it so much. I can’t say enough good things about it. All the benefits that you can achieve from sitting still and going within-it really is a beautiful experience.”