Birth Date: January 26, 1958 / Age: 59
Birth Place: New Orleans, Louisiana
Biography: DeGeneres rose to national attention when her material was turned into the subject matter for the successful 1990s sitcom, Ellen (called These Friends of Mine during its first season). The show was popular for its first few seasons due in part to DeGeneres's style of quirky observational humor.
The show reached its height of attention in April 1997 when DeGeneres (and her character on the show) came out of the closet and publicly declared that she was a lesbian. In spite of the controversy, or perhaps because of it, the outing episode was one of the highest-rated episodes of the show. As one of the first openly gay performers playing an openly gay character on television, she was all but forced into a role as a gay rights activist. Her sitcom seemed to turn entirely into a show about homosexuality; lesbian activist Chastity Bono found the show to be "too gay". After sinking ratings, the show was cancelled, and DeGeneres returned to the stand-up comedy circuit.
DeGeneres returned to television in 2001 with a new sitcom, The Ellen Show. Though her character was again lesbian, it was not the central theme of the show. It received critical praise but low viewership and was cancelled after one season. Some speculated that DeGeneres's star had faded. However, in 2002 DeGeneres redeemed herself as hostess of the 2002 Emmy Awards. Hosted following three cancellations due to terror threats following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the show required a newer, more somber tone that at the same time allowed viewers to temporarily forget the tragedy. DeGeneres delivered, receiving several standing ovations for her performance that evening. She memorably delivered the following line: "We're told to go on living our lives as usual, because to do otherwise is to let the terrorists win, and really, what would upset the Taliban more than a gay woman wearing a suit in front of a room full of Jews?"
DeGeneres has also performed two critically acclaimed stand-up routines, the first was called Ellen DeGeneres: The Beginning (2000) and was taped live at the Beacon Theatre in New York City. Her most recent one which was taped in the same location was entitled Ellen DeGeneres: Here and Now (2003).
DeGeneres lent her voice to the role of "Dory" in the 2003 hit animated film Finding Nemo. The film returned DeGeneres to the limelight, with critics giving her rave reviews. Many speculate that DeGeneres would have been nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar if not for the Academy voters' seemingly suspicious attitudes towards non-live action performance work.
In September of 2003 DeGeneres launched a daytime television talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Amid a crop of several talk shows surfacing in 2003 and hosted by high-profile celebrities (including Sharon Osbourne and Rita Rudner), DeGeneres's show has consistently risen in the Nielsen Ratings and received widespread critical praise. DeGeneres' show was nominated for eleven Daytime Emmy Awards its freshman season, winning four, including Best Talk Show.
Since November 2004, DeGeneres has appeared in a new ad campaign for American Express. Since May 2005 she's been a contributing blogger at The Huffington Post.
Ellen also stars in an attraction at Disneyland's Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. She plays opposite Bill Nye(the science guy) in The Universe of Energy. The ride has since been renamed to "Ellen's Energy Adventure".