Ellen Degeneres is one of the most popular female comedians ever to live. She’s definitely the only one that’s hosted her own successful talk shows for so many years. From voicing Dory to being cast in multiple movie roles, there’s pretty much nothing that this celebrity can’t do.
Here are the most jaw-dropping facts about Ellen that you need to get schooled on right now.
1. Ellen Degeneres was born and raised in Louisiana. She graduated from Atlanta High School in 1976. Shortly after, she attended the University of New Orleans, where she studied communications before dropping out.
2. Ellen first got famous through stand-up by getting a New Orleans following before making it big on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. She was the first female comic to do so.
3. To date, Ellen Degeneres has a staggering net worth of between $330-490 million. That’s a lot of cash! She earns over $70 million annually! Our daily earnings aren’t close to her hourly income.
4. Before she gained celebrity for her quick wit, Ellen worked as a vacuum cleaner saleswoman, a waitress at TGI Friday’s, a paralegal, and an oyster shucker in New Orleans. Apparently, she was best at selling vacuum cleaners, but we’d also love to eat some oysters shucked by Ellen herself.
5. The first guest ever on The Ellen DeGeneres Showwas Jennifer Aniston. This was on September 8, 2003. The musical guest was Macy Gray.
6. Ellen is a member of the Writer’s Guild of America and showed her support towards the strike back in 2007. Still, she crossed the picket lines to work because of over 100 employees that depended on her for getting a regular pay-check. It caused quite the controversy.
7. She received the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Talk Show an insane amount of times. We’re not exaggerating. Ellen won this specific awards in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014, and that’s not even counting the other categories that the show won at the Emmys.
8. DeGeneres isn’t just a talk show host — she’s a music producer. Music has always been a passion for the comedian, and in 2010 she started her label eleveneleven. Her first artist was Greyson Chance, the boy she featured on an episode who sang Paparazzi by Lady Gaga at his school.
9. It turns out that Ellen Degeneres is related to the pop singer Madonna. Well, technically they’re eleventh cousins, but it still counts. Honestly, we see the resemblance, though you couldn’t find two more different people. She’s also distant relatives with Kate Middleton.
10. Andrew Stanton, writer and director of the Finding Nemo franchise, revealed that role of Dory was created with Ellen’s voice in mind. Finding Nemo and Finding Dory earned an accumulative $825,000,000, so we’re sure she made a healthy chunk of change on that.
11. Her favorite sports is tennis. This star once played on her high school varsity team, referred a match between Andy Roddick and Andrew Agassi, and even invited Melanie Oudin for a game on The Ellen Show.
12. She came out as a member of the LGBT community — on her own show! She wasn’t always open to talking about it, but on a 1997 episode, she made the big reveal. Sponsors weren’t exactly happy — Chrysler went as far as to remove her sponsorship. Still, she was a queer role model for many, and soon after, dated Anne Heche for many years.
13. She was a judge on American Idol in 2009. Who did she replace? The iconic Paula Abdul! You can’t really compare when it comes to musical experience. Probably due to this reason, Ellen left the show after only one season.
14. She’s a hardcore vegan for ethical reasons, and has a strong passion for animals. She even does activism against animal cruelty, and aimed to open a vegan tapas bar in California, but plans didn’t work out.
15. In 2012, Michelle Obama beat Ellen in a push up contest on Ellen’s own show. This was when everyone was obsessed with the former First Lady’s fabulous arms. Obviously, DeGeneres lost, but she was a good sport about it. Michelle beat her 25-20.
16. The “Ellen dance” actually was inspired by her childhood. Her parents divorced when she was just 13, and she used to do these silly dances to try to cheer her mom up, who used to poke fun at her daughter’s goofy antics.
17. For one of her birthdays, Ellen’s wife Portia Del Rossi gifted her a Rwandan gorilla sanctuary built in her honor. And of course, her loving wife completed the surprise live on air. It wasn’t just built to honor Ellen, but her personal hero, Dian Fossey.