Emmy-winning talk show host Ellen Lee DeGeneres was born in Metairie, Louisiana, a New Orleans suburb. She is the daughter of Betty DeGeneres (née Elizabeth Jane Pfeffer), a speech therapist, and Elliott Everett DeGeneres, an insurance agent.
Emmy-winning talk show host Ellen Lee DeGeneres was born in Metairie, Louisiana, a New Orleans suburb. She is the daughter of Betty DeGeneres (née Elizabeth Jane Pfeffer), a speech therapist, and Elliott Everett DeGeneres, an insurance agent. Her brother is musician and producer Vance DeGeneres. Her parents divorced when she was sixteen years old. Her mother remarried, and her new husband, salesman Roy Gruessendorf, moved the family to Atlanta, Texas. After graduating from Atlanta High School in 1976, Ellen attended the University of New Orleans as a communication major, but she dropped out after one semester. She held a wide variety of jobs until she turned to stand-up comedy, making her bones at small clubs and coffeehouses before working her way up to emcee Clydes Comedy Club by 1981. Her comedy was described as a distaff version of Bob Newhart. Beginning in the early 1980s, she toured nationally and was named the funniest person in America after winning a competition sponsored by the cable network Showtime. This led to better gigs, including her first appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962) in 1986. Though DeGeneress early forays into series television were not successful (she appeared as a supporting player in two short-lived TV situation comedies in the period 1989-92, Open House (1989) and Laurie Hill (1992)), she scored a hit headlining her own 1994 sitcom on ABC These Friends of Mine (later renamed Ellen (1994) after its first season). She made TV history in April 1997 when her character, and DeGeneres herself personally, revealed that she was a lesbian.