First person to play an openly gay character on primetime television
"Ellen DeGeneres is an American comedian, television host, actress, writer, producer, and LGBT activist. DeGeneres starred in the popular sitcom Ellen from 1994 to 1998 and has hosted her syndicated TV talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, since 2003.
Her stand-up career started in the early 1980s, and included a 1986 appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. As a film actress, DeGeneres starred in Mr. Wrong (1996), appeared in EDtv (1999), and The Love Letter (1999), and provided the voice of Dory in the Pixar animated films Finding Nemo (2003) and Finding Dory (2016); for Nemo, she was awarded the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress, the first time an actress won a Saturn Award for a voice performance. In 2010, she was a judge on American Idol for its ninth season.
She starred in two television sitcoms, Ellen from 1994 to 1998, and The Ellen Show from 2001 to 2002. During the fourth season of Ellen in 1997, she came out as a lesbian in an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Her character, Ellen Morgan, also came out to a therapist played by Winfrey, and the series went on to explore various LGBT issues, including the coming-out process. This made her the first openly lesbian actress to play an openly lesbian character on television. In 2008, she married her longtime girlfriend Portia de Rossi.
DeGeneres has hosted the Academy Awards, Grammy Awards, and the Primetime Emmys. She has authored four books and started her own record company, Eleveneleven, as well as a production company, A Very Good Production. She also launched a lifestyle brand, ED by Ellen. She has won 30 Emmys, 20 People's Choice Awards (more than any other person), and numerous other awards for her work and charitable efforts. In 2016, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom...
In 1997, DeGeneres came out as lesbian. The disclosure of her sexual orientation sparked intense interest by American tabloids. The contentiousness of the media coverage stunted DeGeneres' professional career and left her "mired in depression". In her book Love, Ellen, DeGeneres' mother, Betty DeGeneres describes being initially shocked when her daughter came out, but she has since become one of her strongest supporters; she is also an active member of Parents & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign's Coming Out Project.
The same year she came out, DeGeneres started a romantic relationship with actress Anne Heche that lasted until August 2000. From 2000 to 2004, DeGeneres maintained a close affair with actress/director/photographer Alexandra Hedison. The couple appeared on the cover of The Advocate after their separation had already been announced to the media.
Since 2004, DeGeneres has had a relationship with Portia de Rossi. After the overturn of the same-sex marriage ban in California, DeGeneres and de Rossi were engaged, and married in August 2008, at their home in Beverly Hills, California, where they live with their four dogs and three cats. The passage of Proposition 8 cast doubt on the legal status of their marriage, but a subsequent California Supreme Court judgment validated it because it occurred before November 4, 2008. On August 6, 2010, de Rossi filed a petition to legally change her name to Portia Lee James DeGeneres. The petition was granted on September 23, 2010...
In 2009, PETA named her their "Woman of the Year." In April 2013, she donated $25,000 to stop Ag-Gag anti-whistleblower legislation in Tennessee, which would prohibit undercover investigators from recording footage of animal abuse on farms...
In November 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton named her a Special envoy for Global AIDS Awareness. On December 3, 2011, DeGeneres opened the show at the David Lynch Foundation's 3rd annual "Change Begins Within" gala at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art to raise funds to bring Transcendental Meditation to at-risk populations suffering from epidemic levels of chronic stress and stress-related disorders." (1)