She’s one of the biggest names in American TV and has immense popularity, but why is Ellen DeGeneres famous?
Ellen DeGeneres is most famous as the titular host of ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’, which has been running since 2003. Prior to the establishment of her talk show, she began her career as a stand-up comedian and is also an advocate for LGBTQ rights.
Read on to learn more about Ellen’s prolific career in TV, film, and beyond.
Ellen DeGeneres was born on January 26, 1958 in Louisiana, where she grew up. Her earliest jobs were entirely unrelated to the entertainment industry, where she would ultimately thrive, and she undertook clerical work, waitressing, and retail work.
Her entry into the industry came by way of her stand-up comedy work, which she began to hone seriously in the early 80s through performing in coffee shops and eventually a national tour.
Her big comedy breakthrough came when she was invited to appear on ‘The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson’, which ingratiated her with the talk show circuit and preceded regular performances.
She was cast in a couple of TV sitcoms but found primetime success with her own sitcom ‘Ellen’ which ran from 1994-1998.
Whilst her early career is impressive, it pales in comparison to the fame and influence of her talk show, which was launched in September 2003 and named ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’.
As of 2020, the show has won a staggering 61 Daytime Emmy Awards, and according to Better World International, Ellen “has been conquering the hearts of millions with a loveable mix of humor and compassion”, since the show’s conception.
Watch some of The Ellen Show’s best moments in the YouTube video below.
Ellen had a brief hiatus from TV before the establishment of her now beloved talk show, in which time she lent her voice to the role of Dory in the Pixar animated film ‘Finding Nemo’.
Speaking with Entertainment Weekly, Ellen explains that it was perfect timing and gave her purpose: “It wasn’t that it brought my career back, but I wasn’t working at the time. It took three years to make, so by the time it actually came out, my talk show was on the air, but… nothing was going on for me”. She added, “it was a huge compliment and honor”.
Ellen had worked on a couple of films back in the early 90s, including ‘Coneheads’ which was released in 1993, but this was her first experience with voice acting.
When the decision was finally made to create a sequel, 10 years after the original film was released, Ellen was delighted. The sequel centered on Ellen’s character and was aptly titled ‘Finding Dory’ and was an undisputed success, becoming the third highest-grossing film of 2016.
Activism and Personality
Whilst the comedian and talk show host has been an undeniable success, what’s the reason for her enormous popularity?
Good Housekeeping put it down to her candidness and ‘positive outlook on life’ which has the effect of making everyone feel like she’s their friend.
She’s been very open about her personal life, and came out as gay on the ‘Oprah Winfrey Show’ in 1997.
Ellen told Good Housekeeping that while you can get used to living with secrets, it’s a horrible way to live, and after making the decision to come out publicly, “now I get to be me every single day and not have to worry about hiding anything at all.” That honesty seems to be a huge part of her success.
She uses her platform to influence Americans’ attitudes about gay rights and has been praised for her work.
However she doesn’t think of herself as an activist: “I care passionately about equal rights. I care about human rights. I care about animal rights. Above all, I strive to be the best I can”.