Ellen DeGeneres has become a legend in her own right since she hit the spotlight in the late 1970s — though there have been some bumps along the way.
After starting her career as a stand-up comedian in Louisiana, she left the University of New Orleans to pursue a communications degree. She found moderate success early on, becoming the MC at Clyde’s Comedy Club in 1981 and launching a national tour soon after.
In 1986, she did a stand-up comedy routine and got her big break. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. In addition to appearances on late-night television, there were also club bookings, theater appearances, and small TV roles.
DeGeneres got her first regular small screen gig as a Fox cast member for the sitcom. Open HouseThe series aired from 1989 through 1990. After a brief stint on ABC’s Laurie HillAfter four episodes of the show, the network cancelled it. DeGeneres produced her own sitcom called These Friends of MineLater renamed Ellen.
“I was laughing out loud when I read the script,” she told The New York Times1994. “I knew what I could do with it. I wanted to be smarter and more hip than the rest. I Love Lucy, only don’t take it so far that I’m in a man’s suit with a mustache trying to fool Ricky that I’m not his wife. I wanted a show that everybody talks about the next day.”
They talked. They did this at the height of Ellen’s popularity, its star came out as a lesbian — in real life and on the show. DeGeneres was devastated that ABC had cancelled the sitcom a year later after ratings dropped.
The My Point … and I Do Have OneAuthor made public her relationship with actress Anne HecheShe was soon out and later she got married to a photographer Alexandra Hedison.
DeGeneres returned in 2001 to TV with The Ellen ShowThe CBS sitcom was cancelled less than four months after it premiered. Two years later, NBC decided to take a chance on the actress by giving her a daytime talk program. The Ellen DeGeneres ShowIt is her most successful venture, boasting nearly 3,000 episodes of programming and 60+ Emmy nominations.
The animal rights activist is also a voice for Dory in Disney-Pixar’s animated movies. Finding NemoAndFinding Dory. She met The One along this path, and they married actresses and models. Portia de Rossi2008
DeGeneres was again confronted with scandal in 2020. Multiple former and current employees of talk-shows made allegations about racism, fear, intimidation, and sexual misconduct at work. Executive producers denied behaving inappropriately with staffers, while DeGeneres apologized to those “being looked at differently, or treated unfairly, not equal, or — worse — disregarded.”
Scroll down to view photos of DeGeneres throughout the years.