The Real Ellen DeGeneres Is Much Different Than Her Daytime TV Persona

Ellen DeGeneres has a reputation for being a positive role model, a generous host, and a really funny lady. Her humor is often self-deprecating and her show is all about being kind to the people around you. Ellen uses her platform to educate people about the environment, LGBTQ+ issues, politics, entertainment, internet culture, and so much more. The Ellen Degeneres Show continually gets voted as one of the most popular talk shows on daytime TV.

Even though Ellen’s television persona is rather PG, her real life hasn’t been all rainbows and butterflies. She is actually a lot different from how she comes across on TV.

It’s Just A Persona

Ellen Degeneres attends the
Photo by Lars Niki/Corbis via Getty Images
Photo by Lars Niki/Corbis via Getty Images

Ellen herself will be the first person to admit that the character she plays on television is just that: a character. She is herself on TV, but you can only be “yourself” for so much of a heavily-edited 30 minutes per day. In 2018, Ellen told The New York Times, “The talk show is me, but I’m also playing a character of a talk-show host.”

Ellen’s wife, actress Portia de Rossi, added that she’s “more complicated than she appears on the show. There’s more range of emotion.”

She Doesn’t Always Like To Dance

TV personality Ellen DeGeneres (L) and actress Portia de Rossi attend the People's Choice Awards 2017 at Microsoft Theater
Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for People’s Choice Awards
Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images for People’s Choice Awards

Ellen has made dancing a “thing” on her show. People who watch The Ellen DeGeneres Show might think that she loves to break into an improvised dance number every chance she gets. While Ellen does like to dance, she has revealed that she now sees the dancing bit on her show as something of a “mistake.”

Ellen said, “I’m not a dancer. I just danced as a joke, and then I danced the second day, and the third day, and I was locked in.”

She Actually Does Curse

 TV personality Ellen DeGeneres speaks onstage during the 26th Annual GLAAD Media Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel
Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for GLAAD
Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for GLAAD

Ellen has to watch her mouth on her talk show because it is on in the daytime, after all. She can’t be cursing right when children are getting home from school. Everybody was surprised when Ellen swore in her new Netflix special, but those people have forgotten that before Ellen was a TV host, she was a comedian who did a fair bit of cursing.

Ellen admits that she’s used just about every curse word in the English language at some point or another. She also said that she “invented three new ones” in 2017 after walking into a door.

She’s Older Than She Looks

Ellen DeGeneres speaks at a ceremony honoring Pink with the 2,656th Star on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

If you look at Ellen on TV, you’d never believe that this woman is actually over 60 years old. Ellen doesn’t look a day over 40. Hollywood has certainly been good to her and her skin. When DeGeneres turned 60 in 2018, fans took to Twitter to express their disbelief. One fan tweeted: “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.”

So what’s her secret to looking young? Ellen says that “Nothing makes you look younger than a smile and being happy, you know?”

She Doesn’t Always Get Along With Her Writers

 Ellen Degeneres attends Nickelodeon's 2016 Kids' Choice Awards at The Forum on March 12, 2016
Photo by Frazer Harrison/KCA2016/Getty Images for Nickelodeon
Photo by Frazer Harrison/KCA2016/Getty Images for Nickelodeon

From the looks of it, Ellen and her writing staff are one big happy family, but if you take a peek behind the scenes, things aren’t always as they appear. There have been more than a few feuds and scandals that have come out of Ellen’s writing room. Back in 2007, a writer (who preferred to remain anonymous) told 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 writer said that Ellen would win people over “with her charm and comic timing” during rehearsals, and “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.”

A Former Bachelor Contestant Didn’t Find Her Very Charming

Comedian Ellen DeGeneres seen onstage during
Photo by Andrew Chin/Getty Images
Photo by Andrew Chin/Getty Images

Former Bachelor contestant Corrine Olympios appeared as a guest on Ellen’s talk show in 2017. Corrine expected Ellen to be the upbeat, caring, and happy person that she is every day on television, but Corrine felt that what she got in person didn’t match up to Ellen’s public image.

Corrine “thought [it] would be like talking to Dory,” but claimed that DeGeneres was “very aggressive” and “very cold” when they first met backstage before the show.

Ellen’s Feud With Kathy Griffin

 Ellen DeGeneres accepts the Choice Comedian Award onstage during the Teen Choice Awards 2015
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images

It seems like Ellen pretty much gets along with everybody. The celebrity guests she has on her show all seem to like her, and people are always talking about Ellen’s massive, star-studded parties. While Ellen does have a lot of famous friends there are a few people in Hollywood who can’t stand her.

Kathy Griffin has been pretty outspoken about her feud with Ellen DeGeneres. In her book, Kathy Griffin’s Celebrity Run-Ins” My A to Z Index, Griffin writes, “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. I can’t prove it, but this person, who has short blonde hair, has a mean streak that all of Hollywood knows about.”

People Didn’t Always Celebrate Her LGBTQ+ Status

Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi poses at the People's Choice Awards 2017
Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images
Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images

Thanks in part to Ellen and her steady visibility, the American public is now a lot more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. Back when Ellen first came out, though, that wasn’t the case. She came out publically at the same time as her character on her sitcom came out. After the news became public, Ellen’s sitcom was canceled and she thought she’d never work in Hollywood again.

Everybody was talking about Ellen and even making fun of her for being gay. Ellen told Dax Shepard on his podcast, “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 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.”

She Has A Lot Of Money

Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic
Photo by Laura Cavanaugh/FilmMagic

Ellen doesn’t often talk about her wealth in public, although she sometimes jokes about the fact that she’s rich and successful. Ellen certainly appears to be just like everyone else, but in reality, she has an estimated net worth of close to $330 million dollars. That net worth puts her at number 63 on the Forbes list of America’s wealthiest self-made women.

Ellen didn’t always have money, though. When talking with comedian Ali Wong, Ellen said, “I was poor growing up. 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 Can Hook You Up With Some Fancy Stuff

Ellen DeGeneres speaks onstage during the 2017 MTV Video Music Awards
Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images
Photo by C Flanigan/Getty Images

It’s no surprise that Ellen has friends in high places. She has so many connections that she’s somehow always able to give away valuable, luxurious prizes on her talk show. But Ellen doesn’t just hook up her audience members with new swag— she also gets free and discounted stuff for her famous friends.

David Spade said that when his mother was trying to get celebrities to help her raise money for her dog shelter, she said, “Maybe Ellen could ask Lady Gaga to come up. And she wouldn’t even have to bring all of those crazy costumes.”

A Scandalous Relationship

Portia de Rossi and Ellen DeGeneres arrives at SAINT LAURENT At The Palladium at Hollywood
Photo by C Flanigan/WireImage
Photo by C Flanigan/WireImage

Nowadays, people see Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi as a Hollywood power couple, but back when they first started going out, their partnership caused quite a scandal. Both Portia and Ellen were dating other women at the time.

Portia was with filmmaker Francesca Gregorini, and Ellen was with actress, director, and photographer Alexandra Hedison. Just two weeks after meeting, Ellen and Portia broke up with their respective partners and started dating each other. Now they’re married and they’ve been scandal-free for quite some time.

The Tragic True Story Behind Her “Phone Call To God” Bit

Ellen DeGeneres attends the UK Premiere of
Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images
Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

Before Ellen had her own show, she worked as a stand-up comedian. One of her most successful bits was one in which she discussed being able to call God on the phone. She enacts the whole conversation and is even put on hold at one point.

This bit got lots of laughs, but the reason why Ellen came up with it is actually quite heartbreaking. Ellen’s former girlfriend passed away in a car accident when she was just 23. Ellen couldn’t understand why this young, vibrant girl was gone, and she wanted to ask God how he could let that happen.

Ellen Has Had Some Work Done

Ellen DeGeneres and actress Portia de Rossi arrive at The 41st Annual People's Choice Awards
Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic
Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic

You don’t think Ellen stays looking young all on her own, do you? According to one unnamed associate at a cosmetic surgery clinic, DeGeneres has had a facelift and frequent Botox injections.

Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Yoel S. Shahar studied pictures of Ellen and also determined that she has probably had multiple procedures done. Ellen’s brand is all about self-acceptance, but when it comes to her own body, Ellen feels just as much pressure to fit in as everybody else.

She Dated A Man So People Wouldn’t Think She Was Gay

American comedian, television host, actress, writer, producer, and LGBT activist, Ellen DeGeneres was in Toronto's Scotiabank Arena
Photo by Angel Marchini/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images
Photo by Angel Marchini/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Before Ellen was out publically, she had what’s known in the LGBTQ+ community as “a beard.” A beard is a man who a lesbian hangs out with so other people will think that she’s straight. Ellen’s beard was That Thing You Do! star Johnathon Schaech. He was a big television star in the ’90s.

On Reddit, Schaech recalled that DeGeneres “was scared people would not watch the show, her sitcom Ellen, because she was gay. We just played a little. It was all about the pictures.”

Her Public Relationship With Anne Heche

US President Barack Obama and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres are seen during a break in the taping of The Ellen DeGeneres show
Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images
Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

Before Ellen started dating Portia, she was in a relationship with actress Anne Heche. Ellen didn’t want to be “out,” but she wanted to be able to be with Anne in public without people speculating about her sexuality. A few months later, Ellen came out as gay on the cover of Time magazine.

Ellen decided that it was time for her to stop lying to everyone, even if it meant losing her show. Being true to herself meant more to her than working in Hollywood.

How Ellen And Portia First Met

Ellen DeGeneres accepts the awards for Favorite Animated Movie for 'Finding Dory' from Gwen Stefani (L) on stage at the 30th Annual Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards,
Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images
Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP via Getty Images

After Ellen and Heche broke up, Ellen met Portia de Rossi. The pair met at a VHI awards show in 2004. Portia told The Advocate, “Ellen took my breath away. That had never happened to me in my life, where I saw somebody and experienced all of those things you hear about in songs and read about in poetry. My knees were weak.”

Even though Ellen was out publicly, Portia was still in the closet. She had to go from being secretive with everybody she knew to dating the most famous lesbian in the world.

She Was Brought Up As A Member Of The Christian Science Church

receiving an award
Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Photo by Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Ellen doesn’t talk much about her religious upbringing, but it undoubtedly has a lot to do with the person she is today.

In 2016, Ellen told Parade, “My father was a first reader in the Christian Science Church, which is similar to being a preacher. I didn’t see deep emotion from my parents. It was all very polite and very surface. I never knew how anybody was feeling. Because of that religion, everything was fine all the time.”

Things Didn’t Go Well When Ellen First Came Out

Ellen DeGeneres poses on the press room at the 2016 People's Choice Awards at Microsoft Theater
Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic

Now, Ellen is a successful talk show host and a multi-millionaire, but back when she first came out in the late ’90s it wasn’t clear if anybody would ever let her work again. Ellen appeared on an episode of Oprah Winfrey’s show after the coming-out episode of her sitcom aired.

Oprah was supportive of Ellen, but much of Oprah’s audience asked insensitive questions and expressed anger about Ellen being so open about who she was.

A Good Person At Heart

Ellen DeGeneres speaks at a ceremony honoring Pink with the 2,656th Star on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Even though Ellen isn’t always “on” and she sometimes gets into fights with other celebrities, she’s still dedicated her life and her career to helping people in need. Whether she’s giving away a car to a deserving single mother or donating thousands of dollars to help save gorillas, Ellen knows that one act of kindness really can make a difference.

She might have some skeletons in her closet, but don’t we all? Nobody can be perfect all the time.

She Loves Kids, But Won’t Have Any Of Her Own

the-ellen-degeneres-show

Despite hosting a lot of adorable children on her show, Ellen apparently doesn’t want any kids. In 2016, she told Sunday Style, “We talked about it for a minute, about four years into the relationship, but we just decided we like our conversations not being interrupted and our furniture without sticky grape juice on it.”

She even joked on the Today Show, “It seems like a commitment that you have to stick with. And I just don’t know if I can—it’s too risky. Like, what if I don’t like the kid? What if it turns out that it’s not as cute as I wanted or as talented? I’m gonna compare it to all these kids that I have on this show that are so smart and so funny.”