Ellen DeGeneres life and biography

Ellen DeGeneres picture, image, poster

Ellen DeGeneres biography

Date of birth : 1958-01-26
Date of death : -
Birthplace : New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2010-08-20
Credited as : Actress, comedian, Best Female Comedy Club Stand-Up 1991

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Ellen DeGeneres, born January 26, 1958 is an American stand-up comedian, television host and actress. She hosts the syndicated talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and was also a judge on American Idol for one year, having joined the show in its ninth season.


Coming Out.
Depending on whom one asks, it was either a triumph for social justice or a further indicator of the moral decline of Western civilization. In April 1997 actor and comedian Ellen DeGeneres revealed that she was a lesbian, and her character, Ellen Morgan, also came out, making Ellen the first sitcom ever with a gay lead character. News of this impending declaration leaked in September 1996, setting off a sensational debate about gays both on TV and in American life. In March of 1997, ABC finally announced that Ellen Morgan would indeed come out on a special one-hour episode the last day of April. For DeGeneres, her declaration was something she had put off for a long time, attempting to keep her personal life separate from her professional one. When DeGeneres approached ABC about having her character discover that she is a lesbian, however, she knew that the time had come for her to be more open and honest about her own life. Furthermore, when she made her decision to go public, she did so in a big way, making the cover of Time magazine and appearing with her partner, actor Anne Heche, on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Taking the Heat.
While Ellen at last breathed a sigh of relief at having made her decision, ABC and Touchstone Television, which co-produced Ellen and were part of The Walt Disney Company, began to feel the heat from anti-gay commentators. Reverend Jerry Falwell referred to the star as "Ellen DeGenerate," and Reverend Donald E. Wildmon and his American Family Association issued threats to boycott advertisers of the show. Two occasional advertisers, J. C. Penney and Chrysler, announced that they would no longer sponsor the show. Nonetheless, Ellen was aired on schedule.

Background.
DeGeneres was born in 1958 in Metairie, Louisiana. After graduating from high school in 1976, she worked a series of dead-end jobs around New Orleans. Her friends began to tell her how funny she was, and in 1981 she took the stage at an amateur hour at a local coffee house. In 1982 she entered and won Showtime's Funniest Person in America competition, which became the springboard for her career as a standup comic. In 1986 she appeared on the Tonight show, and, following her routine, Johnny Carson invited her to take a seat, making her the first woman comic to receive the invitation on a debut appearance on the show. She was offered her own sitcom, which appeared in 1994 as These Friends of Mine and then, following some rethinking and recasting, became Ellen (1994-1998).

"The Puppy Episode."
The first three years of Ellen were fairly lackluster, to the point that producers suggested the lead character get a puppy to liven up the show. Instead, as an inside joke, writers named the coming-out show "The Puppy Episode." In this show Ellen Morgan realizes that she is gay when she meets Susan, played by Laura Dern. The episode deals with Ellen's struggles and feelings about her realization. Oprah Winfrey appears as Ellen's therapist, and a dream sequence includes cameos by Demi Moore and Billy Bob Thornton. Ellen's lesbian friends Melissa Etheridge and k. d. lang also made guest appearances. Ellen scored its highest rating ever with "The Puppy Episode" and garnered five Emmy nominations. The show won an Emmy for best comedy writing and a Peabody Award. The fourth season concluded with episodes in which Ellen Morgan came out to her family and to her employer, with mixed results. In accepting the Emmy, DeGeneres said, "On behalf of the people--and the teenagers especially--out there who think there is something wrong with them because they're gay: There's nothing wrong with you, and don't let anyone make you ashamed of who you are."

Parental Warnings and Cancellation.
In its fifth season the show began to explore Ellen Morgan's newly identified sexuality and was frequently rewarded with a parental advisory label that appeared before the show for such potentially "offensive" acts as kissing her girlfriend or discussing her lesbianism. Ratings for the series began to slip, and in April 1998 ABC announced that it would not continue the show.

DeGeneres became romantically involved with actress Anne Heche, and the two became a constant presence in celebrity news in the late 1990s. The couple left Los Angeles after Ellen ended, but moved back and bought a home in the Hollywood Hills in 1999. DeGeneres and Heche announced on August 19, 2000 that they were ending their relationship.

DeGeneres launched a second sitcom, The Ellen Show, on CBS in 2001. She played an Internet entrepreneur who returns to her small town after her company fails in the dot-com bust of the time. Early in the first episode, in a play on her earlier moment of fame and infamy, her new character tells several people at her former high school that she is gay, and most of them accept it and shrug it off. The high school soon hires her as a counselor. Critics liked the show, but ratings were poor. It only lasted one season.

DeGeneres debuted a daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, produced by Telepictures Productions, in September of 2003. The show won several daytime Emmy awards, including four consecutive awards for outstanding talk show, from 2003 through 2007. In February of 2007, DeGeneres hosted the 79th Annual Academy Awards.

Since 2004, DeGeneres has been in a relationship with actress Portia de Rossi. They live together in Los Angeles. In 2008, Degeneres married De Rossin in a ceremony at their home in Beverly Hills, California. Because they were married before November 4, 2008, when same-sex marriage laws were voided in a statewide referendum, they will be allowed to retain their status as married partners.

Also in 2009, Degeneres won the People's Choice Award for favorite talk show host.

PERSONAL INFORMATION
Raised in New Orleans, LA; daughter of an insurance salesman; ex-partner of Anne Heche (broke up in 2000); spouse of Portia de Rossi.

AWARDS

Showtime's Funniest Person in America, 1982; Best Female Comedy Club Stand-Up, American Comedy Awards, 1991; Hollywood Women's Press Association's Golden Apple Award for Female Discovery of the Year, 1994; Entertainer of the Year, Entertainment Weekly, 1997-98; Daytime Emmy Awards, Outstanding Talk Show, National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 2004-2007; Daytime Emmy Awards, Outstanding Special Class Writing, National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 2005-2006; Daytime Emmy Awards, Outstanding Talk Show Host, National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, 2005-2007; People's Choice Award, 2008.

CAREER

Began as a stand-up comic in New Orleans, LA, 1981; served as master of ceremonies for Clyde's Comedy Corner, New Orleans; performed stand-up comedy on the road, c. 1981-84; television debut on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, 1986. Appeared in television specials The Young Comedians All-Star Reunion, 1986; Women of the Night, 1987; The Comedy Club Special, 1988; Six Comics in Search of a Generation, 1992; Laughing Back: Comedy Takes a Stand, 1992; Komedy All Stars, 1993; VH-1 Honors, 1994; 46th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards, 1994; 9th Annual American Comedy Awards, 1995; 79th Annual Academy Awards, 2007. Appeared in television series One Night Stand, 1989; Open House, Fox, 1989; Comics Only, 1991; Laurie Hill, NBC, 1992; Ellen (originally named These Friends of Mine), ABC, 1994-1998; The Ellen Show, CBS, 2001-2002; The Ellen DeGeneres Show, 2003--. Appeared in films Wisecracks (documentary), 1991; Coneheads, 1993; Mr. Wrong, 1995; Love Letter, 1999; EDtv, 1999. Also executive producer of Ellen. Published "My Point . . . and I Do Have One," 1995. Cover Girl model, 2008--.

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