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Ellen DeGeneres Biography

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Ellen DeGeneres
Ellen DeGeneres
Metairie, Louisiana
Blue sneakers.

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Ellen DeGeneres Biography

Emmy-winning talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres was born on January 26, 1958, in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. Her father, insurance salesman Elliot De Generes and her mother Elizabeth, a real-estate agent, were divorced when she was 16 years old. Her mother remarried, and her new husband, salesman Roy Gruessendorf, moved the family (which included Ellen's brother) to Atlanta, Texas.

After graduating from Atlanta High School in 1976, Ellen attended the University of New Orleans as a communication major, but she dropped out after one semester. She held a wide variety of jobs until she turned to stand-up comedy, making her bones at small clubs and coffeehouses before working her way up to emcee Clyde's Comedy Club by 1981. Her comedy was described as a distaff version of Bob Newhart. Beginning in the early 1980s, she toured nationally and was named the funniest person in America after winning a competition sponsored by the cable network Showtime. This lead to better gigs, including her first appearance on "The Tonight Show" (1962) with Johnny Carson in 1986.

Though DeGeneres' early forays into series television were not successful (she appeared as a supporting player in two short-lived TV situation comedies in the period 1989-92, "Open House" (1989) and "Laurie Hill" (1992)), she scored a hit headlining her own 1994 sitcom on ABC "These Friends of Mine" (later renamed "Ellen" (1994) after its first season). She made TV history in April 1997 when her character, and DeGeneres herself personally, revealed that she was a lesbian. However, the show was canceled the following season due to declining ratings, after which DeGeneres returned to the stand-up circuit. In 2001, DeGeneres launched a new series, "The Ellen Show" (2001), on CBS, but it suffered from poor ratings and was canceled.

Redemption as a television artiste came in 2003, when DeGeneres' daytime talk show, "Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show" (2003) proved to be both a critical hit and a commercial success. Along with good ratings, the show has won unprecedented kudos from the industry, winning 15 Emmy Awards in its first three seasons on the air and becoming the first talk show in TV history to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show in its first three seasons.

DeGeneres has also made a name for herself as a host of awards shows. She hosted the Grammy Awards in 1996 and 1997, as well as the Primetime Emmy Awards in 2001 and 2005. In February 2007, she will have the ultimate TV awards show gig, hosting the Oscars.


Ellen DeGeneres Trivia

Voted "Funniest Person In America" in 1982.

"Best Female Club Standup," Comedy Awards 1991.

Sister of Vance DeGeneres (guest appearance on "Ellen" (1994) as host of a book-chat show). Vance also played bass in a 1980s rock group, "House of Schock," and was "Mr. Hands" in "Saturday Night Live" (1975)'s "Mr. Bill" short films.

Named "Entertainer of the Year" by Entertainment Weekly 26 December 1997/2 January 1998, issues 411/412.

Spoke at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Pointed out that many film plots and images in Hollywood are "heterosexist," meaning that the filmmakers allow heterosexual characters to dominate the screen. She would like to see actors and actresses portray more gay and lesbian couples. [1999]

Worked as a paralegal before becoming a comedienne.

Has two dogs named Bootsie and Muffin.

When Ellen came out as a lesbian on her show in April 1997, ABC's affiliate in Birmingham, Alabama, refused to air the landmark episode. Some of the show's sponsors, including Chrysler, withdrew their advertisements.

Was initially reluctant to do a love scene with Sharon Stone in If These Walls Could Talk 2 (2000) (TV), but Ellen's then-girlfriend Anne Heche, who was directing this particular segment of the film, encouraged her to do it. Ellen eventually gave in.

Split with partner Anne Heche after being together for 3 1/2 years. [August 2000]

In 1999, intended to marry Anne Heche if Vermont's plans to legalize gay marriages go through. By August 2000, she had split with Heche after being together for 3 1/2 years.

Her last name is pronounced "duh-generous".

Used to sell vacuum cleaners before she was discovered.

Has written two books, "My Point... And I Do Have One", a New York Times bestseller for six months, and "The Funny Thing Is...", also a New York Times bestseller.

Was originally offered Sandra Bullock's role in Speed (1994/I).

Daughter of Betty DeGeneres.

Ended her four-year relationship with photographer-director Alexandra Hedison. [December 2004]

Spoofed on "Mad TV" (1995) by comedian Nicole Parker.

The first female comedian invited over to the couch to chat with Johnny Carson.

Is of French (paternal grandfather), Irish, English, and German descent.

Was the first female stand-up guest to be called to the "hot seat" on her first guest appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" (1962).

Graduated from Atlanta High School in Atlanta, Texas, in 1976.

Is a vegetarian.

Has been in a relationship with Portia de Rossi since 2004.

Is only the second woman to host the Oscars on her own. The first was Whoopi Goldberg.

She is a sweetheart of the fraternity Sigma Tau Gamma.




 
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