The Wild Story of How Ellen DeGeneres' Neighbor Predicted Her Talk Show Success

Ellen DeGeneres launched The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2003. In an interview with James Corden, the 63-year-old star looks back at the start of her series.

By Elyse Dupre May 05, 2021 3:38 PMTags
Watch: Ellen DeGeneres Dishes on "Ellen" Success

It's been almost two decades since The Ellen DeGeneres Show premiered.

The year was 2003, and it had been six years since Ellen DeGeneres came out to the world. On April 14, 1997, she appeared on the cover of TIME magazine along with the words "Yep, I'm Gay." Two weeks later, "The Puppy Episode" on the ABC sitcom Ellen aired and her character Ellen Morgan came out, as well.

The episode won an Emmy and a Peabody Award, and DeGeneres received the GLAAD Media Award. But Ellen was canceled after its following season and, as she recalled during the May 4 episode of The Late Late Show with James Corden, a three-year "drought" ensued in which she could not find work.

"I just didn't think I would work again," she said, "because it didn't seem like that would happen."

About a year into not being able to get a job, DeGeneres' neighbor, an astrologer, made a prediction.

"She told me when I was 45 years old, I was going to start a brand-new career, and it was going to be more successful than anything I've ever done. And it could go 20 years if I wanted," DeGeneres recalled. "I was like, 'What sitcom goes 20 years?' I wasn't even thinking talk show."

Remember These LGBTQ Firsts on TV?

That talk show, of course, was The Ellen DeGeneres Show. "At 45, I started this talk show and it's now been 19 years," she said. "She was, like, dead on. It's crazy." 


Reflecting on her early episodes, DeGeneres said she had to "prove" she could conduct interviews.

"I had to prove that I could talk to people and interview people," DeGeneres shared. "And then when I started the show they were like, 'You can't make reference that you're gay. Don't bring it up. Don't even go in that area.'"

She also said she "had to dress differently," noting "they were really strict about how I appeared."

Terence Patrick/CBS ©2021 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Last week, DeGeneres celebrated her 3,000th episode. And she still keeps in contact with her astrologer neighbor. "I talk to her from time to time and she's still, like, amazing," DeGeneres said. "If anybody wants her number."