She is of French, English, German, and Irish descent. She was raised as a Christian Scientist. Vance stayed with his father. On a February episode of her show, she told her studio audience of a letter from the New England Historic Genealogical Society confirming she is 15th cousin to Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge , via their shared common ancestor Thomas Fairfax. She moved back to New Orleans to attend the University of New Orleans , where she majored in communication studies.
After one semester, she left school to do clerical work in a law firm with a cousin, Laura Gillen. Her early jobs included working at J. Penney ,  and being a waitress at T.
Friday's and another restaurant, a house painter, a hostess, and a bartender. She relates much of her childhood and career experiences in her comedic work. Stand-up comedy DeGeneres started performing stand-up comedy at small clubs and coffee houses.
The show revolved around DeGeneres' falling asleep and finding herself in an energy-themed version of Jeopardy! The next film had DeGeneres co-hosting an educational look at energy with Nye. The ride first opened on September 15, , as Ellen's Energy Crisis, but was quickly given the more positive-sounding name Ellen's Energy Adventure. The series was canceled after only four episodes, but Marlens and Black were so impressed with DeGeneres' performance that they soon cast her in their next ABC pilot, These Friends of Mine, which they co-created with David S.
The ABC show was popular in its first few seasons due in part to DeGeneres' style of observational humor ; it was often referred to as a "female Seinfeld. Her character on the sitcom also came out of the closet to her therapist , played by Oprah Winfrey. The series returned for a fifth season but experienced falling ratings due to ABC's cutting back on promoting the show.
DeGeneres returned to stand-up comedy and later re-established herself as a successful talk show host. One of several celebrity-hosted talk shows surfacing at the beginning of that season, including those of Sharon Osbourne and Rita Rudner , her show has consistently risen in the Nielsen ratings and received widespread critical praise.
The show has won 25 Emmy Awards for its first three seasons on the air. DeGeneres is known for her dancing and singing with the audience at the beginning of the show and during commercial breaks. She often gives away free prizes and trips to be in her show's studio audience with the help of her sponsors.
DeGeneres celebrated her thirty-year class reunion by flying her graduating class to California to be guests on her show in February Bush and Bill Clinton to the podium, she came out in a bathrobe and furry slippers. Ellen then went on to make another commencement speech at Tulane in In May , DeGeneres was placed on bed rest due to a torn ligament in her back.
She continued hosting her show from a hospital bed, tended to by a nurse, explaining "the show must go on, as they say. Her role started after the contestant auditions, at the beginning of "Hollywood Week".
However, on July 29, , DeGeneres and Fox executives announced that the comedian would be leaving American Idol after one season. In a statement, DeGeneres said that the series "didn't feel like the right fit for me".
The series had a preview episode on December 18, with regular episodes beginning the following January. Presented after two cancellations due to network concerns that a lavish ceremony following the September 11 attacks would appear insensitive, the show required a more somber tone that would also allow viewers to temporarily forget the tragedy.
DeGeneres received several standing ovations for her performance that evening, which included the line: This was three weeks after Hurricane Katrina , making it the second time she hosted the Emmys following a national tragedy.
She also hosted the Grammy Awards in and in On September 7, , DeGeneres was selected to host the 79th Academy Awards ceremony, which took place on February 25, During the Awards show, DeGeneres said, "What a wonderful night, such diversity in the room, in a year when there's been so many negative things said about people's race, religion, and sexual orientation. And I want to put this out there: If there weren't blacks, Jews and gays, there would be no Oscars, or anyone named Oscar, when you think about that.
The resulting photo of twelve celebrities broke the previous retweet record within forty minutes and was retweeted over 1. DeGeneres' dog collection at PetSmart was launched February  and a cat line was introduced later that year.
She also provided the voice of the dog in the prologue of the Eddie Murphy feature film Dr. In , the commercial won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial. DeGeneres began working with CoverGirl Cosmetics in September , for which she has been criticized, as her animal-friendly values clash with Procter and Gamble's the maker of CoverGirl Cosmetics animal testing.
The beauty campaign was DeGeneres' first. Penney in a tour and advertising campaign. Her line of home products, initialized as E. She explained her choice of name, claiming that she often sees the number The first act she signed to the label is Greyson Chance.
The disclosure of her sexual orientation sparked intense interest by American tabloids. The same year she came out, DeGeneres started a romantic relationship with actress Anne Heche that lasted until August All the benefits that you can achieve from sitting still and going within—it really is a beautiful experience. David Lynch is such a wonderful man to start this foundation to help people. DeGeneres also created a t-shirt with her brand whose proceeds also go to the organization.