Ellen Lee DeGeneres was born in New Orleans Louisiana on January 26 1958. She found the best way to get through a fear of public speaking was to use humor to get her audience to enjoy themselves.
At 23 she started doing stand-up comedy at a local coffee house until Jay Leno pointed Johnny Carson in her direction, and she was booked to appear on the Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson. That one performance led to many other doors opening for her, and she quickly bcame a household name.
For the woman who didn’t study to be a veterinarian because she ‘wasn’t book smart’, Ellen was still on the rise, landing a job in 1994 on a sitcom called These Friends of Mine, later to be renamed Ellen.
1997 was a HUGE year for American talk show and Sitcom history, with Ellen and her sitcom character becoming the first openly gay lead character on TV, both in their private and make believe lives. For those who lived in Alabama, it was an ABC executive who decided the controversy far outweighed the value of showing the episode where Ellen’s character came out of the closet. Continuing on with the gay themes brought on a storm of criticism. The show was axed in 1998.
Bring on the new millennium and 2001 saw CBS pick up Ellen, in a new sitcom, aptly named The Ellen Show. Unfortunately it didn’t garner the ratings she needed to make it a runaway hit. It was axed after one season.
The Ellen DeGeneres Show began airing in 2003, in competition to plenty of other celebrities having their own talk shows. Her wit, individuality and kindness has led to this show running strong now for almost a decade.
And just in case you’ve lived under a rock for the last 10 years, Ellen was the voice for the ditzy fish Dori in the Disney/ Pixar film Finding Nemo in 2003. She was also the voice of the prologue dog in the 1998 20th Century Fox film, Dr. Dolittle.
Outside TV and movies, Ellen is an advocate for many wonderful charities and causes; it amazes me she has any private time. She’s a spokesperson against animal cruelty. Gentle Barn; they rescue and rehabilitate abused farm animals, is a commonly mentioned organization on her show. She’s a proactive supporter of anti-bullying through her website and the Untied Against Bullying movement, also it goes without saying she’s an ambassador for Gay Rights.
Find out more from the links below, and in the words that will forever be this magnificent woman’s legacy, “Be Kind To One Another.”
Seriously…I’m Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres
Hardcover, 241 pages
Published October 4th 2011 by Grand Central Publishing ISBN 0446585025 (ISBN13: 9780446585026) ***There are other books, but we’re running out of room here***