The Tragic True Story Behind Ellen Degeneres’ Most Famous Joke

We all know and love Ellen DeGeneres as America’s favorite daytime talk show host. She’s silly, she’s funny, she can dance, and she’s charitable. It seems crazy to think that people used to hate her for being exactly who she is.

When the public first encountered Ellen DeGeneres, she told a funny and moving joke on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Years later, she’s revealed more about how she came up with that joke, and the tragic story behind it will leave you breathless.

The Beginning

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Photo by Joan Adlen/Getty Images

Ellen DeGeneres was born on January 26th, 1958 in Louisiana. Her mother was a speech therapist and her father was an insurance agent. She has one brother, Vance, who’s a musician.

Ellen was raised Christian Scientist, which is the branch of Christianity most well known for refusing to use modern medicine (although not all Christian Scientists are that extreme). Her parents got divorced in 1973. Ellen stayed with her mother after the divorce and Vance stayed with his father.