As famous for her personal life as her career, Ellen DeGeneres initially came to prominence as a stand-up comedian. Championed by late-night talk show host, Johnny Carson, she made numerous appearances on his show in the 80s before landing her own sitcom in 1994. Although there was an abundance of gossip surrounding DeGeneres’ sexual orientation, she was silent on the subject until 1997 when she – and her small-screen alter ego – came out, along with her then-lover, Anne Heche. The episode sparked controversy and the show was cancelled the next season. After a handful of bad movies: Ron Howards’s, Edtv (a critical success) and The Love Letter (forgettable), in 2001 DeGeneres landed another sitcom, CBS’ The Ellen Show, playing a lesbian who returns to live in her home town. It was cancelled three months later.
2003 was DeGeneres’ comeback year. Finally she found her niche hosting a quirky daytime talk show for which she won Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Talk Show Host in 2005 through 2007. Also in 2007, DeGeneres achieved her life long dream – hosting the Academy Awards.