Ellen DeGeneres has worked in the entertainment industry for over 30 years. During that time, she’s earned millions of devoted fans while breaking countless boundaries and winning multiple prestigious awards. After paying her dues as a stand-up comic and starring on her own sitcom, she’s long-hosted one of the most popular daytime talk shows, The Ellen DeGeneres Show. Basically, DeGeneres is one of the most recognizable figures on television, and regular viewers probably feel like they’ve come to know her pretty well over the years.
But the public persona we see when the cameras are rolling may not be who this multi-talent truly is behind the scenes. Most of us are undeniably more complicated than others might assume and, as DeGeneres pointed out on her Netflix comedy special Relatable in 2019, « We have a tendency to stereotype people. » That’s certainly true, but perhaps even more so when it comes to some of our favorite famous faces. From DeGeneres’ unexpected moody side to the surprising truth about her popular dancing ways, keep on reading to find out why Ellen is nothing like she seems.
Has Ellen been boxed in by her TV persona?
If you ask Ellen DeGeneres and longtime wife Portia de Rossi, there’s a lot more to this lovable comedian than what meets the eye on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. « The talk show is me, but I’m also playing a character of a talk-show host, » the titular star told The New York Times in 2018. Of the differences between her wife’s true self and public persona, actress de Rossi revealed that she’s « more complicated than she appears on the show. There’s more range of emotion. »
Sometimes, those emotions may even contradict DeGeneres’ consistently chipper on-screen image and reputation for being nice. Known for reminding her audience to « be kind to one another » at the end of her show, the comic admitted in Relatable that she can understandably have her bad days just like anyone else. She went on to explain the « downside » to her signature sign-off sentiment: « I can never do anything unkind ever now. I’m the ‘be kind’ girl. » As an example, the instantly recognizable star noted that if she ever gets angry while in traffic, she feels she can’t even honk her horn. « I shouldn’t even have a horn in my car, » DeGeneres said. « I can’t honk ever. »
She doesn’t like dancing as much as you’d think
Ellen DeGeneres can act, host, and crack a hilarious joke with the best of ’em … just don’t ask her to dance. The multi-hyphenate opened up about her beloved trademark moves during a Relatable bit. Calling it a « mistake, » she revealed that she’s come to regret ever performing her quirky choreography on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. « I’m not a dancer. I just danced as a joke, » the stand-up comedian explained. « And then I danced the second day, and the third day, and I was locked in. »
While forced to groove during every episode until she finally found a way to phase it out, DeGeneres previously admitted to The New York Times that she still gets asked by fans to bust out of move during chance encounters. Meanwhile, during her special, she quipped, « Baryshnikov doesn’t get asked to dance as much as I get asked to dance. Whenever people see me anywhere they’re like, ‘Dance, Ellen, dance!’ I’m like, ‘I’m getting a mammogram. I can’t move right now.' »
Yes, Ellen DeGeneres uses profanity
While hosting her family-friendly daytime talk show on a major television network, DeGeneres has understandably had to watch what she says when it comes to expressing herself in any way that might offend viewers or upset industry sponsors. While she hasn’t always been successful at holding her tongue, that self-censorship obviously includes the use of bad language.
That said, DeGeneres once confessed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show that she used every curse word that you can think of and even « invented three new ones » after a 2017 mishap, in which she enjoyed two glasses of wine, fell into a door, and had to have her dislocated finger « [snapped] right back into place » at the hospital. Ouch! While you’ll have to use your imagination when it comes to what she might have said in that particular situation, you can witness the star actually swear in her 2019 Netflix special — which was definitely not something fans were used to hearing. During a story about wearing socks with holes in them to someone’s house who has an unanticipated shoes-off policy, DeGeneres admitted that it’s the kind of circumstance that makes her think to herself, « I gotta get the f**k out of here. » Oh my!
You’ll never guess Ellen’s age
While some celebs have been caught lying about their age, Ellen DeGeneres doesn’t have to … namely because no one believes how old the ever-youthful TV star actually is. When DeGeneres turned 60 in 2018, a number of fans took to the Twittersphere to express their disbelief. « Ellen [DeGeneres] is turning 60 this week and I am shook. Like I cannot be the only one who thought she was maybe 45 all this time, » one person wrote, while another tweeted, « [Ellen DeGeneres] turning 60 in 4 days is the biggest lie I have ever heard LOOK AT THIS CHILD. »
Around that time, DeGeneres herself admitted to Hoda Kotb of the Today show that turning 60 « sounds horrible. » However, she proudly noted the age-related milestone on her show, telling her cheering crowd, « It happened. I’m now 60 years old. I did it! » Two years ahead of turning the big 6-0, DeGeneres shared her top anti-aging advice in her CoverGirl + Olay campaign. « Nothing makes you look younger than a smile and being happy, you know? » she said, before quipping, « I mean, if you look at babies, they’re always smiling and laughing, and their skin is flawless. » Good point!
Does poker bring out her temper?
Rumor has it that it’s not all fun and games when you gamble with one Ellen DeGeneres. According to Radar Online, the TV star reportedly hosts a « high-stakes poker game » at her California home (before you ask: yes, it’s legal) with some of her famous pals — including Chelsea Handler, Olivia Munn, Amy Schumer, and Melissa Etheridge.
However, a source cited by the gossip rag claimed in 2018 that the celebs who get in on the card-playing action need to be prepared for DeGeneres’ easy-going vibe to change on a dime. « Ellen’s VERY serious about the game, » the insider alleged. « When she loses her temper, people are terrified! » The source added, « When everyone arrives, Ellen’s always clowning. Then she not only gets very focused, but also very DARK. »
While DeGeneres and her team never publicly responded to this story, it should be noted that Gossip Cop was quick to debunk the report. Calling it « nonsense, » another source told the site that while the beloved comedian apparently does indeed enjoy playing poker with her popular friends, she « simply doesn’t run a secret poker ring at her house. »
Ellen DeGeneres vs. her writing staff?
If there’s anyone in Hollywood who isn’t fond of Ellen DeGeneres, word has it that it may be those behind the star’s scripts and quips. Around the time of the 2007 Writers Strike, a former writer’s assistant from the short-lived sitcom, The Ellen Show, anonymously claimed in a since-deleted blog post that the comedian treated her writers « like s**t » (via Gawker).
« People tend to be disappointed when I answer the ‘What was Ellen really like?’ question by suggesting she must be a very talented actress to convince America she’s nice, » the blogger wrote. Alleging that DeGeneres would would win people over « with her charm and comic timing » during rehearsals, the person added, « Then the director would yell cut, her face would fall, and she’d level a glare at the writers.’Why do you keep writing these unfunny jokes?’ she’d hiss. »
While it’s unknown whether there’s actually any truth to these claims, Deadline reports that many members of the Writers Guild of America, East were « extremely disappointed » when DeGeneres appeared to cross the picket line and continued to tape her show amid the strike. According to Today, the host explained on her show at the time, « I support (the writers) and hope that they get everything they’re asking for. And I hope it works out soon. »
She made one unsuspecting guest ‘uncomfortable’
Hollywood’s A-list stars regularly pop up on The Ellen DeGeneres Show to promote projects and chat with the famous personality like she’s their best friend. However, not everyone’s enjoyed their interaction with the popular daytime TV host.
The Bachelor‘s own Corinne Olympios sat down for an interview with DeGeneres in 2017, shortly after appearing on the hit ABC show. However, the reality TV show contestant later admitted that DeGeneres had made her feel « so uncomfortable » during their short time together. After telling The Morning Breath that she loves « Ellen so much, » Olympios admitted that she « thought [it] would be like talking to Dory » (DeGeneres’ animated Finding Nemo character), but claimed that DeGeneres was « very aggressive » and « very cold » when they first met. This was before the cameras started rolling — and perhaps prior to when the host shifted into her on-air persona. « I don’t think I was supposed to see her before the show, because everybody got very nervous when we bumped into each other, » Olympios explained. « And you could tell they were like, ‘Oh, s**t.' »
Ellen DeGeneres and her Kathy Griffin feud
Although it may seem like every celebrity in Hollywood is a fan of Ellen DeGeneres, there are some stars who just can’t stand her. And when it comes to the mutual animosity between DeGeneres and fellow comedian Kathy Griffin, things eventually got so nasty that the two found themselves caught up in a full-on feud.
« I’m almost positive a certain beloved daytime talk show host once had me kicked out of a backstage dressing room at the Emmy Awards, » Griffin not-so-subtly wrote in her 2016 book, Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins: My A-Z Index. She added, « I can’t prove it, but this person, who has short blonde hair, has a mean streak that all of Hollywood knows about. » After Griffin did an interview about the book and said she wished DeGeneres was more supportive of her, she told Access that DeGeneres was « furious » and « livid » about the whole situation.
For her part, DeGeneres previously told W magazine that Griffin was « very mean. » She added, « I know she had a big thing about wanting to be on the show, and we didn’t book her. She did a whole thing that I banned her from the show. I didn’t ban her from the show, because first you have to be on the show to be banned. »
She struggled to come out
Despite being an inspirational icon in the LGBTQ+ community, coming out wasn’t as easy for DeGeneres as one might think. Shortly after her character came out on her titular sitcom, the actress-comedian revealed that she was a lesbian in a 1997 Time magazine cover story. While she initially received support, soon came an almost career-ending wave of backlash. A year later, Ellen was unceremoniously canceled and DeGeneres found herself alienated within the industry.
« It hurt my feelings. I was getting jokes made at my expense on every late-night show, people were making fun of me. So, I was really depressed, » DeGeneres recalled on Dax Shepard’s Armchair Expert podcast in 2018. « Because of that and because the show was canceled, I was looked at as a failure in this business. So, no one would touch me. I had no agent, I had no possibility of a job, I had nothing. »
More than two decades later, DeGeneres is « grateful » for the life that led her to where she is these days. « I can’t believe that I was able to achieve what I achieved, lose it all, and then get to this point in my life at 60 years old, » she said. « To start over at 45. Nobody starts over in this business at 45, much less a woman. I’m really grateful that I had that experience and it made me a stronger person. »
Ellen’s even richer than you might think
The fact that DeGeneres makes a lot of money isn’t surprising since she is a celebrity, but you might not realize just how wealthy she is considering she’s not known for a lavish lifestyle. The multi-hyphenate has largely kept any extravagance quiet, and while the star tends to wear simple blazers and casual sneakers on her show, her unpretentious wardrobe hasn’t necessarily reflected her fortune.
Thanks to her hosting gig, her Netflix special, production work, and licensing fees, as well as her habit of buying and selling luxury properties — which make up what Business Insider deemed a « real estate empire » — Forbes reports that DeGeneres is worth an estimated $330 million dollars, putting her at #63 on their list of America’s Self-Made Women 2019. She reportedly brought in $87 million during 2018 alone, and boasts an estimated net worth that’s significantly higher than others on the list, including industry powerhouse Reese Witherspoon (#77 with $240 million) and history-making athlete Serena Williams (#80 with $225 million).
« I was poor growing up, » DeGeneres once revealed while discussing her attitude towards wealth with fellow funny lady Ali Wong. « I was just like … ‘I am always going to just get what I want … Because I know there is an abundance and I will always have enough.’ That’s how I live my life. You shouldn’t live your life in fear of money because you’re going to manifest that. »
She has some elite connections
DeGeneres’ celebrity status and jaw-dropping wealth have come along with serious connections. While she regularly hooks her audience up with free stuff at The Ellen DeGeneres Show, the comedian’s also capable of hooking up her famous friends with high-priced items.
When Migos rapper Offset appeared on the show in 2019, he recalled how the influential host pulled some strings after he had mentioned his plan to buy a flashy new vehicle in a previous appearance. « You was the plug to me getting a Bentley truck, » he said. « … I had $200,000 that day. And then I had told you I was trying to get a Bentley truck. You were like, ‘Well, I got people at Bentley.’ The next thing I know, the car’s outside. After, I went to the dealership and purchased it off the plug. »
Even actor David Spade’s mom knows that DeGeneres is the person to go to when you need a Hollywood-worthy hookup. The actor told the talk show host that when his mother was trying to enlist celebrities to help raise money for her dog shelter, she made this suggestion to her son: « Maybe Ellen could ask Lady Gaga to come up. And she wouldn’t even have to bring all of those crazy costumes. » Hey, it was worth a shot!
Was Ellen DeGeneres unfaithful?
Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi may be a beloved celebrity couple these days, but when the pair got together in 2004, it caused a bit of a scandal due to the fact that neither woman was single around that time. While de Rossi was dating filmmaker Francesca Gregorini (who later called their split « pretty harrowing » while talking to The Advocate), DeGeneres was in a serious relationship with actress, director, and photographer Alexandra Hedison (via E! News). However, both decided to call it quits with their partners and reportedly moved in together just two weeks later.
Just after their breakup, DeGeneres and Hedison appeared together on the cover of The Advocate — the interview and photo shoot had been conducted a month before. The pair released statements via the publication, with DeGeneres saying, « The one thing I regret about this cover story is that it will be confusing for people to read and not understand what is going on … Who knew that the publication and timing of it would prove to be bittersweet? » Hedison admitted, « I would never have done this story if I had thought we would not be together today. »
While the circumstances were tough at the time, Hedison went on to marry actress-director Jodie Foster in 2014, and Gregorini started dating producer Morgan Marling that same year. As for DeGeneres and de Rossi? Well, they’ve been happily married since 2008.