Ellen Degeneres – Family, Family Tree

by Kristine Bigcas

Ellen Lee Degeneres is a famous television host, a comedian, author, actress, and producer. She hosts her own talk show that started in 2003, The Ellen Degeneres Show. Prior to that, she had her own TV sitcom, Ellen, that ran from March 29, 1994, to July 22, 1998. She started in show business in 1978 and has consistently made an appearance in TV shows and movies alike. She starred in Mr. Wrong in 1996 and in The Love Letter in 1999. Aside from her personal appearance in those movies, she has also given her voice to the animated character, Dory in both Finding Nemo and its sequel Finding Dory. On top of those, she also was one of the judges in the ninth season of American Idol together with Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell, and Kara DioGuardi.

Ellen came out in 1997 while guesting on The Oprah Winfrey Show. On her show Ellen, her character came out to a therapist named Winfrey as well just like a parallel to how she came out in real life. She was the first openly lesbian actress that also played an openly lesbian character on national TV. Up to this day, Ellen serves as a big role model and inspiration to the whole LGBTQ community throughout the world. Her success is recognized by multiple award bodies and by the US government as well. She is a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2016.

Personal Life of Ellen

Ellen was born on January 26, 1958, in Metairie, Louisiana. Their family home in Metairie is where Ellen has spent most of her younger days. Her ancestry roots from French, Irish, German, and English roots. In 1973, she together with mom moved from Louisiana to the Gruessendorf home in Atlanta, Texas following her parent divorce. She graduated in 1976 from Atlanta High School but has spent time studying at Grace King High School. After her high school graduation, she continued her studies at the University of New Orleans. She took a major in Communication Studies. However, she quit school after a semester when she chose to work with her cousin, Laura Gillen.

Before fame, she worked at J.C. Penney (a department store) and T.G.I Friday’s (as a waitress). She also worked for other restaurants, bartended, became a house painter, and a hostess. This can often be seen in all her comedy skits. She then worked in small clubs and pubs as a stand-up comedian.

Family of Ellen

She was one of the two children of Elliott Everett DeGeneres and Elizabeth Jane Pfeffer or also known as Betty DeGeneres. Ellen was raised in a Christian Scientist belief in her early years. Her parents separated in 1973 and were formally divorced in 1974. She lived with her mother while her brother, Vance DeGeneres, stayed behind with their father. Her mother remarried in shortly after her divorce. She married the salesman Roy Gruessendorf.

Betty DeGeneres was a speech therapist before she became an LGBT rights activist and an active member of the Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). She has completed her Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology when she was 50 years old. She has written two books: Love, Ellen: A Mother-Daughter Journey and Just a Mom. She is a breast cancer survivor and openly talks about her experience in public speeches.

Previous Relationships of Ellen

Anne Heche

From 1997 to August 2000, Ellen dated American actress, screenwriter, and director, Anne Celeste Heche. Their relationship was widely followed by the public but did not give a good impact to Anne’s career. She has starred in various films including BirthCedar Rapids, and Rampart. She has also received multiple nominations for different award bodies. Although blissful at first, her relationship with came to an end in which she released a statement “It is an amicable parting, and we greatly value the 3 1/2 years we have spent together. We hope everyone will respect our privacy through this difficult time.” Up to this day, Anne is still active in the show business.

Alexandra Hedison

A year after her breakup with Anne Heche, Ellen moved on to Alexandra Hedison. She is also an American actress, director, and photographer. She made her directorial debut in 1994. She also starred in a couple of episodes of The L Word as Dylan Moreland. She and Ellen started dating in 2001 and ended their relationship in 2004. On an exclusive statement to Advocate.com Ellen said that “We are working together on the ending of our relationship on that level and intend to keep it private. And it’s important to add that we have every intention of being in each other’s lives.” In response to her statement, Alexandra said: “Even though this is a difficult time, I love her and will always want what’s best for her.” However, rumors are rampant that Ellen broke it off with Alexandra to be her wife now, Portia de Rossi. Alexandra married famous actress Jodie Foster in April 2014.

Marriage with Portia de Rossi

Ellen’s relationship with Portia de Rossi started in 2004. They met for the first time in the backstage of an award show. At this time, Portia and Ellen were still both committed to other people. Portia is an Australian actress and model that starred in Scream 2 and Cursed. She was once married to Mel Metcalfe and were in a secret relationship with Francesca Gregorini. Portia remembers seeing Ellen for the first time and describe it as breath-taking. She even said “I saw somebody and experienced all of those things you hear about in songs and read about in poetry” making her knees weak.

The two were engaged after Portia said yes. Ellen proposed in a simple manner while looking at a goldfish. After Portia brought home a goldfish coming from her shoot, Ellen stood next to her and asked: “This is a pretty romantic moment, right?” to which Portia replied with “Every moment with you is romantic.” Ellen then popped the question with a three-carat diamond ring with small pink diamond accents. The proposal happened just a little after the lifting of the same sex marriage ban in California. They got married on August 16, 2008, at their shared Beverly Hills home. Their union was witnessed by their mothers and very few guests that only totaled to nineteen people.

Through their years of marriage, Ellen and Portia never decided to have kids. Although there were many rumors of them having a baby, the couple shut down the rumors and declared that despite liking being around kids, they will not have their own. The couple also practiced being vegans since 2008. They are still currently living in their Beverly Hills home with four dogs and three cats. Portia filed for her legal name to be Portia Lee James Degeneres on August 6, 2010. Her petition was granted on September 23, 2010. A year later, Portia officially became an American citizen.

In early 2017, rumors say that the couple is heading towards splitsville. It is said that both Ellen and Portia are constantly arguing which leads on to Portia eating less. This has caused more damage to Portia’s eating disorder that has been present since 2000. The couple is said to have had attended couples therapy but attempts of making it work are still futile. However, the rumors are subtly denied by the couple through their sweet posts on social media.

Career in Show Business

Ellen started off early in media entertainment. She first worked in the film Coneheads before starring in a film that was named after her: Ellen Energy Adventure. She then started her television career in Open House, a FOX channel sitcom. She was then cast as Nurse Nancy McIntyre in Laurie Hill. After the short-lived series, she starred next in These Friends of Mine which was later renamed as Ellen. The show was canceled in May 1998 a year after she came out. Ellen returned to television in 2001 where she hosted her own television sitcom The Ellen Show and in September 2003, the daytime television talk show, The Ellen Degeneres Show. The success of her show earned her 11 Daytime Emmy Awards nomination with four actual wins for its first season. By the time it reached its third season, the show has had a total of 25 Emmy Awards.

In February 2006, she flew her graduating class to California and were her guests on the show as a celebration for their 30-year class reunion. As a surprise, she went to Tulane University in a bathrobe and furry slippers to give out a commencement speech for the graduating class of 2009. On the 100th episode of The Ellen Degeneres Show, she invited big stars like Oprah Winfrey, Justin Timberlake, and Paris Hilton to be the guests of her show. She was also a judge on American Idol’s ninth season as a replacement to Paula Abdul. But, she had decided to not return for the next run saying that the show “didn’t feel like the right fit for me.”

Other Creative Work and Success

Ellen also made a name for herself in terms of hosting award shows. She received a standing ovation for her hosting performance of the Emmy Awards in 2001. Four years later, she was invited to host the 2005 Primetime Emmy Awards. A year later, she hosted the 79th Academy Award. She was the first openly gay/lesbian host of the formal event. Critics gave a positive review for her talent in hosting the evening. One of her notable jokes was “What a wonderful night, such diversity in the room, in a year when the have been so many negative things said about people’s race, religion, and sexual orientation. And I want to put this out there: If there weren’t blacks, Jews and gays, there would be no Oscars, or anyone named Oscar, when you think about that.” She hosted the Academy award in 2014 which makes it her second time hosting the show. In 2014, Ellen took a selfie with 12 famous artists and the photo went viral in less than an hour after it was posted. As of the time of writing, the photo has over 3 million retweets.

She also voiced the animated character Dory in both Finding Nemo in 2003 and Finding Dory in 2016.  Her performance for the movie earned her a Saturn Award, Favorite Voice from an Animated Movie, and the Annie Award. Her first voice acting was in 1998 as the prologue dog in Doctor Doolittle.

Ellen is a spokesperson for different organization and cause. She appeared in a commercial with American Express and won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Commercial. She also worked with CoverGirl Cosmetics, represented products on the home shopping network QVC where her own line of product is also sold. She was also a spokesperson for J. C. Penney which she worked for before she became a famous personality.

Total Net Worth and Asset

Ellen Degeneres has her own record label which she named “Eleveneleven” on May 26, 2010. Her first signed artist is Youtube sensation Greyson Chance which coincidentally has the number 11 soccer jersey. Among the expensive possessions of Ellen are 4,000-square feet Los Angeles home that were sold for $9.9 million, black Ferrari California with a top speed of 193 miles per hour, $160,000 vintage yellow gold Rolex watch, black Porche 911 with 400 horsepower, Tuscan-style Montecito home that was put on the market at $45 million, 2013 Porche Turbo S, vintage Porche 993, and the 9,200-square feet Beverly Home which had a value of $49 million. She earns an annual salary of $75 and as of 2017 has a net worth of $360 million.