Ellen DeGeneres

     
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Real Name: Ellen DeGeneres - Official Web Site
Birthday: January 26, 1958

Ellen DeGeneres Biography and Filmography:

Funny lady Ellen DeGeneres is best known for her daytime television show “Ellen”, and for her addition to the judging panel on the 2010 season of American Idol.  

DeGeneres began her career as a stand-up comedian, turning her observational comedy into a situation comedy which made television history for a lesbian character – a gay Ellen both on and off screen. The news put an end to her sitcom career in 1999, but she was back a few years later as the host of a talk show full of top celebrities 


Ellen was born January 26, 1958, and grew up in New Orleans. She fell in love with comedy after the divorce of her parents 1975, when her sense of humor gave comfort to her mother. She completed less than one term at the University of New Orleans before dropping out and starting odd jobs. It was not until older brother Vance started getting attention on the local music scene, and as the co-creator of the “Mr. Bill” short films on “Saturday Night Live”, that she decided to pursue comedy as a career. 

Ellen made a name for herself with a peculiar, observational comedy grounded in huge understatements and punctuated with uneasy pauses. A video of her performing her routine was sent to a talent agency and suddenly she had earned the title of "Funniest Person in America."

In 1986, DeGeneres hit the big time when she was invited to appear on "The Tonight Show", and Johnny Carson gave her his stamp of approval with one of his famous invitations to join him at the couch after her set. It was the first time Johnny had ever extended such an offer to a female comedian on the show. Ellen began appearing in  HBO comedy specials, and playing the role of the wisecracking receptionist in the Fox sitcom "Duet" (1988-89) and its spin-off "Open House" (1989-90).

DeGeneres finally hit prime time success when she received her own situation comedy which premiered as "These Friends of Mine" (1994). After the first season the show was redeveloped to show more of her personality and returned the following year as "Ellen" (1994-98). Her role was a bookshop owner who surrounded herself with a great cast including Joely Fisher as her man-chasing best friend, Arye Gross as her roommate and old college friend, David Anthony Higgins as her sarcastic employee, and Jeremy Piven as her cousin.

This second version of the show was a success, winning the actress four Emmy nominations for Best Comic Actress, and winning in 1997 for her script writing in the now famous "coming out" show titled, "The Puppy Episode." There had long been rumor about Ellen's sexuality which hit a fever pitch that season when tabloids leaked the story that producers were planning to have her announce she was a lesbian. Ellen ramped up the gay speculation by appearing on talk shows and hesitantly sidetracking the question. 

In April 1997, DeGeneres announced she was gay in a magazine story and  interview with Diane Sawyer. Then the famous “Puppy Episode” aired April 30, 1997, pulling more than 40 million viewers excited to see television history made when she disclosed her homosexuality, and became the first openly gay lead character in primetime television. The fact that Ellen was gay in real life added more interest to not only her show, but her personal life. Unfortunately, her "coming out" spelled the end of the sitcom. A year after the the network cancelled the show. 

After DeGeneres left television in 1998, she took big movie roles despite the fact she was gay. Her first movie role was in "Mr. Wrong" (1996), about a single and lonely woman who finds the seemingly perfect man to date, but soon regrets it when his deranged and possessive other personality emerges and worst still, she cannot convince anyone else of his changing true nature. The movie was a flop, as she played a straight woman looking for the right man. 

DeGeneres then appeared in the "Goodbye Lover" (1999) as a joking detective. Ellen did gain attention for her role as the television producer who comes up with the idea of televising Matthew McConaughey's life in "EDtv" (1999).  DeGeneres then was cast in the romantic comedy "The Love Letter" before directing her girlfriend Anne Heche in "Miss Conception", featuring her and Sharon Stone as a lesbian couple trying to have a child. 

Ellen then lent her voice talents to the animated family comedy "Doctor Dolittle" (1998) starring Eddie Murphy, where a Doctor finds out that he can understand what animals are saying, and the animals find out that he understands them.

Returning to her stand-up comedy roots, Ellen next began a national comedy tour that included the Emmy nominated HBO special "Ellen DeGeneres: The Beginning" (2000). The network then invited her back to series television, and she returned as executive producer and star host of the smash hit "The Ellen Show" (2001-02), portraying a lesbian who decides to trade the stresses of her fast-track, city lifestyle for the slower pace of her quieter hometown, where she is known and loved.

While her career was on the fast-track, her personal life again became tabloid news when she and Anne Heche ended their three year relationship in August 2000. Shortly after the break-up, Anne was found roaming around in her underwear, saying she was looking for the gateway to outer space. She was institutionalized for a time and soon released a book stating that she had suffered with multiple personality disorder and delusions all of her life. Ellen refused to comment on the couples private life together. 

DeGeneres bounced back by once again lending her now famous voice to the Disney animated smash hit family comedy "Finding Nemo" (2003) as the lovable fish Dory, in the father and son underwater adventure featuring Nemo, a boy clownfish, who is stolen from his coral reef home, and his timid father must search Sydney Harbour to find Nemo.

That same year, DeGeneres returned to television with the day-time talk show "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," which boasted a live Disc Jockey, and had her frequently dancing through the audience. The show also featured A-list celebrity guests, as well as inventive sketch comedy segments and interviews celebrating everyday people, making audiences feel comfortable and at ease.

The show’s format and her appeal was an instant smash hit, and viewers were not concerned with the gay sex life of an accepted celebrity. The show won Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Talk Show Host three years in a row.

But in early 2007, Ellen was once again the subject of tabloid scandal after two high-profile incidents during the year. News outlets jumped on her and live-in girlfriend, actress Portia De Rossi, when they broke the rules of a pet rescue agency after their adopted puppy did not get along with the couples cats and the couple found it at another home. The adoption agency repossessed the dog, saying that she had violated the adoption contract. She made headlines when she explained the events of the incident to her audience and tearfully pleaded for the return of the dog during her show.


As the media coverage over that event was starting to slow, she again ignited a controversy for crossing the picket line of the striking Writers Guild to work on her daytime talk show. The host, a member of both the Writer’s Guild (WGA) and the actor’s guild AFTRA, was bound by her AFTRA membership to continue reporting to work. She stopped production for one day, but returned stating that she supported her writers but that she had a duty to her audience. 

More interest in Ellen's personal life started in 2008 when she announced her intentions to marry long time partner Portia De Rossi as California law had been changed just weeks before that now allowed same sex partners to enter into marriage.

In 2010, DeGeneres added the title "American Idol" judge to her list of accomplishments when she took over for exiting judge Paula Abdul. Fans quickly fell in love with Ellen and her interactions with bad guy judge Simon Cowell.  

 

 

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