If you are one of the millions of Americans who tune in daily to watch “The Ellen DeGeneres Show”, you might feel like you know its host pretty well. DeGeneres has been a staple of the comedy scene for more than 30 years, and she has 14 Emmy Awards to show for it.
Still, even though you have doubtlessly seen her on TV hundreds of times, there are still probably several things you don’t know about Ellen DeGeneres. Here are 11 little-known facts about the comedienne.
1. She was supposed to be Phoebe on “Friends”
Before landing her own sitcom, “Ellen”, which ran successfully on ABC for four years, DeGeneres was offered the role of Phoebe Buffay on the hit NBC show “Friends.” Needless to say, if she hadn’t turned it down, her career (as well as Lisa Kudrow’s) would have likely gone in an entirely different direction
2. She dreamed of being a veterinarian
When she was growing up, DeGeneres dreamed of being a veterinarian, but she gave up on that idea when she realized that she lacked “book smarts.” Before getting into comedy professionally, she did stints as a vacuum cleaner salesman and a house painter.
3. She has her own ride at Walt Disney
If you visit Epcot at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, you can take a ride aboard Ellen’s Energy Adventure, an attraction in which DeGeneres tells riders about the history of energy as well as giving tips about how to conserve natural resources. The ride also features Bill Nye and Alex Trebek as well as several animatronic dinosaurs.
4. She is from New Orleans
Originally from New Orleans, DeGeneres felt a particular kinship with the victims of Hurricane Katrina. She set up a series of fundraisers and relief efforts, and she raised more than $10 million to help support the victims of the massive storm.
5. Gay-rights activists hail to her
DeGeneres’ gay character in her show “Ellen” was the first lead in a sitcom to ever acknowledge homosexuality. The move led to controversy and caused several advertisers to pull out, though the coming-out episode won an Emmy Award and DeGeneres was hailed by gay-rights activists.
6. She is never ever late
DeGeneres wrote in her book “Seriously…I’m Kidding” that she always shows up early for appointments and parties. This habit has been noted by several magazine interviewers who have had the pleasure of speaking with her as well
7. Showtime named her the “funniest person in America” for a reason
In 1982, 12 years before she would become a household name with her own TV show, DeGeneres was named the “Funniest Person in America” by Showtime based on a video of her performance at a comedy club in New Orleans.
8. She is Dory in “Finding Nemo”
She voiced the role of Dory in the hit 2003 Disney-Pixar film “Finding Nemo.” The role was actually written for DeGeneres, and she is set to reprise her performance in the 2016 sequel, “Finding Dory.
9. She is the best host in the business
In 2014, she is slated to host the Oscars for the second time. Her 2007 hosting gig was hailed by Entertainment Weekly as one of the best Oscar performances in the last 20 years because her honest style and good-hearted humor effectively lightened the mood of the night
10. She avoids swearing in her shows
DeGeneres consciously tries to avoid swearing on her show or in her stand-up acts. She has told interviewers that she thinks curse words guarantee an easy laugh, and she prefers to work harder.
11. She became a vegan at the age of 50
At age 50, DeGeneres decided to become a vegan. A lifelong animal-lover, she decided she could no longer justify eating meat, and she worked with her personal chef Roberto Martin to adopt a healthy vegan diet.