How Ellen DeGeneres Became Everyone's BFF

The comedian turns 58 today

By Julia Hays Jan 26, 2016 1:00 PMTags
Ellen DeGeneres

America's bestie Ellen DeGeneres is turning 58-years-old today.

The star has been making us laugh, dance, and inspiring us to "just keep swimming" since she rose up the stand-up comedy ranks in the 1980s.

Since then, DeGeneres has dabbled in film, starred in two TV sitcoms, hosted several major award shows, and she brightens our weekday afternoons with The Ellen DeGeneres Show.

Ellen is everywhere, and we wouldn't have it any other way.

Think about it: Pretty much everyone loves DeGeneres. (How could you not?)

She's the type of TV host that kids and parents can watch together and both enjoy.

She pulls pranks on Hollywood's biggest stars, coerces even the most serious of politicians and world leaders to bust a move, and doesn't shy away from sensitive topics, shining a light on political and social issues through honesty and humor.

"Most comedy is based on getting a laugh at somebody else's expense. And I find that that's just a form of bullying in a major way," DeGeneres told CBS' Sunday Morning in 2011.

"So I want to be an example that you can be funny and be kind, and make people laugh without hurting somebody else's feelings."

DeGeneres' rep as the kind comic is noticeable in her first Tonight Show appearance, where she walks out and greets the crowd like they're just catching up and having a chat.

"You feeling good? OK, me too."

After her set, which revolved around family and phone calls to God, the star became the first female comedian to get invited over to the couch to be interviewed by Johnny Carson.


That's not the only time DeGeneres has made history through her comedy career.

In the late '90s she was the first openly gay actress to play an openly gay character on television after coming out (in real life and on her sitcom Ellen) to Oprah Winfrey.

Though it shouldn't been a risk when you're being yourself, what DeGeneres did was a first, and a career risk, which ultimately paid off.

The talk show host has remained open to her viewers and fans throughout her career.

She has shed tears on her show. She features interviews with do-gooders and inspiring people from across the country. She urges viewers to aid charities and causes in need.

When you're watching DeGeneres you feel like you're with the friend you always turn to for help, someone who is going to listen and take action.

When a star shares their own flaws and fears, and isn't afraid to open themselves up to their audience and let us be apart of their lives, there is a familiarity there that few celebs get to experience.


It's Ellen. We know her.

She keeps it simple, too, when she's cheering people up.

What comes to mind when you think of iconic clips from DeGeneres' daytime talk show?

She loves dancing. She'll hilariously scare or pull pranks on her guests, her crew, and wife Portia de Rossi.

We especially love when she's the instigator making another star do her prank. (We'll never forget "Dennis Quaid is here!")

DeGeneres will make herself the butt of a joke.

She Photoshops herself into goofy pics and laughs at her embarrassing throwback looks.


She's so likeable, she can get away with nearly anything.

Order pizza to the Academy Awards? Get a group of major A-listers to take an epic selfie together? Of course.

If DeGeneres suggests something, wouldn't you want to give it a try?

She just makes things fun.

She can even address controversy and spin it in a way where it makes you laugh, makes you think, and usually shines a light on how ridiculous the criticism was to begin with.

When DeGeneres became the first openly gay person to host the Oscars in 2006, she addressed haters head-on during the broadcast.

"What a wonderful night, such diversity in the room, in a year when there's been so many negative things said about people's race, religion, and sexual orientation," said DeGeneres.

"And I want to put this out there: If there weren't blacks, Jews and gays, there would be no Oscars, or anyone named Oscar, when you think about that."

AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

She's literally just as charming while shutting people down.

That's not easy to do.

We can't wait to see what she has in store for us over this next year.