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Modest Start, Big Plans

Modest Start, Big Plans

More From Ellen

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Despite stumbling into comedy, DeGeneres knew from the start that she would make it big.

Ellen's Biography

Cause of Choice: Humane Society of the United States and Oceana
Second Chance: The first time she was scheduled to appear on Johnny Carson, she got bumped when the previous guest, Robert Goulet, kept forgetting the lyrics to the song "Memory." 
Big Break: Winning "Showtime's Funniest Person in America" contest in 1982 vaulted her from local New Orleans clubs to a national tour.
Family Act: Her brother Vance was the first sibling to achieve local celebrity as the bassist of the New Orleans band, The Cold. He now co-runs Steve Carrell's production company.

Ellen DeGeneres is a daytime TV juggernaut and entertainment pioneer.  Her hit syndicated talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, is a haven for discussion, deadpan comedy, and a collector of over 30 Daytime Emmys.  She’s been included in Forbes’s "100 Most Powerful" and Time’s "100 Most Influential" lists and has hosted the Oscars, the Emmys, and the Grammys to wide acclaim. She is the best-selling author of Seriously…I’m Kidding, The Funny Thing Is…, and  My Point…And I Do Have One. Her many humanitarian efforts include anti-bullying campaigns and support for Hurricane Katrina victims, as well as animal rescue, global warming and breast cancer awareness organizations. 
 
DeGeneres’s comedy career began as an emcee at a local comedy club in her hometown of New Orleans. She got her start acting on Fox’s sitcom Open House and ABC’s Laurie Hill, before being offered, what would become her trailblazing role, on These Friends of Mine, renamed Ellen after the first season. The popular sitcom made history when Ellen’s character came out of the closet in 1997, becoming the first-ever gay lead character on television.  The episode garnered Ellen a coveted Peabody Award and played to a record 46 million viewers. DeGeneres went on to star in hit HBO specials, the critically acclaimed CBS sitcom The Ellen Show, and to voice the beloved Dory in Finding Nemo.  She served as the fourth judge on “American Idol” in 2010 and, in May of that year, announced eleveneleven, a record label created in partnership with Telepictures to discover new acts and platform them on her talk show. She has also become a sought after spokesperson featured in highly popular campaigns including JCPenny, Covergirl and American Express.

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