Ellen Lee DeGeneres
Paternal 19th cousin
I had known for some time that Ellen DeGeneres and I were somehow related. We shared a number of famous distant cousins, and King Edward I was both mine and Ellen's 22nd Great-Grandfather. However, I wanted to know if we had a closer common ancestor so I put off my research (which can take hours of uninterrupted time). It turns out that King Edward I is our most recent shared Grandparent along with Marguerite de France, his wife. My lineage descends from Edward I and Marguerite through their son, Edmund, the Earl of Kent while Ellen's lineage descends through Thomas, 1st Earl of Norfolk and elder brother of Edmund. Marguerite was only 1 of 2 of King Edward's wives, and through a twist of fate, his 2nd wife, Eleanor of Castile is also my 22nd Great-Grandmother with their son, King Edward II, being my 21st Great-Grandfather.
However Ellen and I are related to English royalty, it doesn't seem to have stuck as we are both "commoners" now, although one could successfully argue that Ellen is a queen in her own right - the queen of daytime television.
I first became aware of Ellen way back in 1994 when I was living in Williamsville, New York (a suburb of Buffalo). One night as I sat alone in my rented townhouse, I came across a new TV show called "These Friends of Mine" before being renamed "Ellen" in season 2. It was a sitcom about a quirky blonde woman (Ellen) and her even quirkier friends. I liked the show and I remember discussing it with some co-workers the next day at the office. The one scene that I will always remember from that show was when Ellen was put on hold and began singing to the on-hold music. I found the scene hilarious as it was something we have all done at one time or another.
Ellen started her career in stand-up comedy, performing first in small clubs before becoming the emcee at Clyde's Comedy Club in New Orleans, in her native Louisiana. She then began to tour nationally, making a name for herself on the stand-up comedy circuit. Like other comedians, Ellen made the leap from stand-up comedy to television sit-coms and impressed the producers with her comedic acting talent and was quickly given her own show.
The "Ellen" show ran for 4 full seasons before being cancelled in season 5. Ellen, both the actress and the show, made history in 1997 when the lead character (Ellen) came out as gay. The show made headlines due to the controversial topic (at the time) of having a TV character come out as gay, but overall the support for the TV character Ellen, and the actor Ellen DeGeneres (who had come out as gay prior to the episode airing) far outweighed the controversy. Ellen blew-open the closest door, "normalized" being gay and became a beacon for that gave others strength to do the same.
Ellen moved on from sit-coms to becoming a very successful talkshow host in 2003. The Ellen DeGeneres Show is still on air as I write this (and on my TV by coincidence!) and Ellen's ratings continue to bring in large numbers of loyal fans. Ellen's casual/friendly & humorous way of interacting with the guests who appear on her show seems very natural and unrehearsed, like a real conversation that two friends would have.
Ellen has also hosted a number of awards shows, including the Academy Awards, the Primetime Emmys and the Grammy's. Ellen has also stared in a number of TV commercials and has been very successful as a voice actor, most notably as "Dory" in the "Finding Nemo" movies. In 2017 Ellen launched a new show called "Ellen's Game of Games", a game show where contestants perform outrageous and funny acts, or answer questions in order to advance to the final round and win cash prizes. I have watched this show several times and find the lengths that contestants will go to in order to win cash hilarious; although I doubt that I would put myself through the same things!
Ellen also devotes a significant amount of her time and money to good causes and supports animal rights, AIDS awareness, supports at-risk people suffering from chronic stress and stress related disorders and she has set up the "Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund".
Ellen has not been without controversy, however, and in 2019 she was criticized for her friendly interaction with former President George W. Bush while seated next to him at a football game (Ellen and George W. are distant cousins, but whether either knows it I am uncertain). In my ever humble opinion, I think the whole uproar about Ellen engaging the former President in pleasant conversation is so much crap; whether the two of them agree or disagree on political issues, there was no reason why they could not engage in civil conversation, and in this author's opinion, those that do not like it really should keep their opinions to themselves.
Last year, during the midst of the 2020 global pandemic, Ellen suffered from even more bad press. Reports of a "toxic workplace" began to reach the media. Within days more and more reports hit the press, and suddenly Ellen was under a microscope, even though none of the allegations were directed at her personally. As I watched this all unfold on the news, I wondered how many people really believed that Ellen DeGeneres herself ran the entire talkshow production? As someone who has managed many staff in different locations (albeit on a much smaller scale than Ellen's talkshow), there is nothing worse than being blind-sided by issues that no one has raised directly with you. When I read that "Ellen should have gotten more involved" with the crew members and other staff, I think it is a bit of a stretch. The number of times that I have personally asked employees if they had any issues and they said that everything was fine, only to be side-swiped later when they went on to complain about issues that were never raised with me with someone else. To complicate matters further, I highly doubt that any staff on the show would have said anything to Ellen anyhow.
Another bit of controversy about Ellen that hit the news was when she complained about being in quarantine at her house. This was spun as a wealthy, privileged celebrity complaining about being stuck in her mansion. To this I say "pfft". Whether the cage you are in is gilded or not, it is still a cage. Yes, people that were in quarantine in tiny apartments with no outside space were (and are) worse off than people who have a house and yard, we all suffered (and still suffer) from being limited in our personal movements. As I have said before, being in the spotlight and under the microscope cannot be easy. Whether you are a celebrity, a member of royalty or any other public figure, having the world watch your every move and have a comment about every thing you say or do is not what I would want, money or not.
As with all of the other famous people I have on my website, I am distantly related to this talented lady, but I do not personally know her. My thoughts and comments about this distant cousin of mine are based on my own personal opinions and research. While I probably will never meet Ellen in person, I do want to thank her for bringing some moments of laughter into my life.