Ellen got her big debut as a comedian in 1986 aged 28, on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson after working in standup for a few years and making regular appearances on the talk show circuit.
Finding success as an actress with her own prime-time sitcom called Ellen, the show faced strong criticism when Ellen’s character became the first lead in sitcom history to openly acknowledge her homosexuality on air, and was cancelled in 1998.
Returning to television in 2003 after making several films, Ellen DeGeneres became a big hit with daytime viewers with her self-titled talk show, Ellen. She has hosted the Primetime Emmy Awards twice, and the Academy Awards in 2007.
She has won 30 Emmys, 20 People’s Choice Awards (more than any other person), and numerous other awards for her work and charitable efforts. A vegan and animal lover, she has served as an Ambassador for Adopt-A-Turkey Project, asking people to start “a new tradition by adopting a turkey instead of eating one” at Thanksgiving.
Ellen married Australian actress Portia de Rossi in 2008, in what was perhaps the highest-profile gay marriage after California legalised the unions. In 2016, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom.