DeGeneres has also made a name for herself as a host of awards shows. She hosted the Grammy Awards in 1996 and 1997, as well as the Primetime Emmy Awards in 2001 and 2005. In February 2007, she had the ultimate TV awards show gig, hosting the Oscars.
DeGeneres has also been successful in her feature film work. DeGeneres scored unprecedented popular and critical response to her character, Dory, the fish with extremely short-term memory, in the blockbuster animated feature film, "Finding Nemo." DeGeneres' feature film credits include "EDTV" for director Ron Howard, "Mr. Wrong," "The Love Letter" for Dreamworks, New Regency's "Goodbye Lover," and "Coneheads."
DeGeneres also served as the fourth judge on "American Idol" during its ninth season. The judging panel included, Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson and Kara DioGuardi.
DeGeneres has been included in Forbes 100 Most Powerful Women and was also included in Entertainment Weekly's 50 Most Powerful Entertainers. She was honored with Television Week's Syndication Personality of the Year and has been included in TIME magazine's 100 Most Influential People.
In the spring of 1997, DeGeneres made pop-culture history by having her character come out as a lesbian, becoming the first gay lead character on a network television sitcom. That show, called "The Puppy Episode," garnered forty-six million viewers and brought DeGeneres an Emmy Award for best comedy writing. At the same time, DeGeneres herself came out to millions with a cover story in Time magazine announcing that she is gay.
These Friends of Mine premiered on ABC in March of 1994, receiving mixed reviews and decent ratings. The show starred DeGeneres as Ellen Morgan, an employee (and later owner) of a bookstore called Buy the Book.
As a result of that engagement, DeGeneres was invited onto The Tonight Show and earned the distinction of being the only female comic to be invited by Johnny Carson to sit on the famed "couch" during her first visit.
At the age of 23, she began performing at a local coffeehouse. She got her big debut in 1986 when, acting on a tip from Jay Leno, The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson sent a booking agent to catch her act at the Improv in Hollywood.
DeGeneres' older brother, Vance, was the creator of the Play-Doh character "Mr. Bill" on the long-running NBC comedy skit program Saturday Night Live, and was long considered the humorous member of the family.
Her mother remarried, and her new husband, salesman Roy Gruessendorf, moved the family (which included Ellen's brother) to Atlanta, Texas.
Ellen DeGeneres was born in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb of New Orleans. Her father, insurance salesman Elliot De Generes and her mother, a real-estate agent, were divorced when she was 16 years old.