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Ellen DeGeneres: A Timeline From Cultural Icon to Hollywood Nasty

Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:26 PM
Bernadette Giacomazzo
Last Updated September 23, 2020 2:26 PM
  • It’s safe to say that Ellen DeGeneres has officially fallen from grace.
  • But the downfall didn’t happen in a vacuum.
  • Here’s a timeline of DeGeneres’ rise — and fall.

Ellen DeGeneres has officially fallen from grace.

Even if we assume the best of circumstances, and DeGeneres somehow keeps her eponymous talk show, the veneer of “kindness” that once enshrouded her is forever tarnished.

It’s a shame that things came to such an ignoble end for the once-invincible talk show host.

But her downfall was actually a long time coming.

Let’s take a look at the timeline of Ellen’s rise…and fall.

In The 1990s, Ellen DeGeneres Was A Cultural Icon

When she first started out, Ellen DeGeneres was just like every other struggling actress and comedian on the circuit. She got a few bit parts in movies, did a few stand-up routines, and tried her best to “breakthrough.”

Then, in 1994, she got her own sitcom named — appropriately — “Ellen.” Here is a handy highlights video:

But what most people were unaware of was that Ellen DeGeneres was hiding what was, at that time, a very big secret: she was a closeted homosexual. In the 1990s, being anything other than “cishet” (as it’s referred to today) wasn’t easily accepted — so Ellen hid her sexuality until 1997, when she came out in a now-infamous Time Magazine cover story .

It’s hard to believe today, but after she “came out,” Ellen DeGeneres was met with an onslaught of bad press from the likes of The New York Times . To give you an idea about how controversial being gay was in the 1990s, ABC slapped the “coming out” episode with a parental warning label .

And not long after she “came out,” her show was canceled, and she was virtually unemployable in Hollywood for a long time. (Which is ironic, considering how many of Hollywood’s most infamous icons were secretly — and not-so-secretly — homosexual .)

So, Ellen DeGeneres’s coming out came at a high personal and professional cost for her.

She knew this. And she did it anyway.

For this, she was brave — and for this, she is to be commended.

So when — and how — did it all go so horribly wrong?

The Early 2000s Helped Her Stage A Comeback

Ellen DeGeneres started to stage a comeback in 2001. Even though her newly-minted CBS show, “The Ellen Show,” only lasted for 13 episodes, she got a big break when she was asked to host “Saturday Night Live” for the first time that same year.

Later in 2001, DeGeneres got asked to host the Emmys.

But on September 11, 2001, the unthinkable happened, and the show was rescheduled — twice — before finally airing with a much more somber tone.

And, at that time, Ellen DeGeneres was able to endear herself to all of America when she uttered the phrase, “What would bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?”

Check out the video below.

From there, DeGeneres seemed unstoppable. In 2003, “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” was launched, and she’s been in the stratosphere ever since.

And from that day forward, she had an untarnishable “nice” image…until 2007.

2007: The Year It All Started Going Wrong

You may think that the allegations against Ellen DeGeneres first started coming out in 2020…but you’d be wrong.

Ellen DeGeneres
The accusations against Ellen DeGeneres had been going on for a while. | Source: Twitter 

The first allegation of Ellen DeGeneres being nothing like her persona came in 2007 when a former staffer came forward to confess that DeGeneres treated her staff “like s**t.”

When asked to elaborate, the former staffer had no problem going into great detail .

We’d watch her in rehearsals, smiling and winning us over with her charm and comic timing. Then the director would yell cut, her face would fall, and she’d level a glare at the writers. “Why do you keep writing these unfunny jokes?” she’d hiss. Ellen frequently eviscerated the head writer and … boasted of the changes she’d make in season two, starting with his firing.

This would later match up with Kathy Griffin’s story in her autobiography, where she said that DeGeneres “has a mean streak that all of Hollywood knows about. 

Kathy Griffin explains her ‘feud’ with Ellen DeGeneres in the video below.

But because the staffer made the allegations at the same time that Ellen DeGeneres crossed the picket line to work during the writer’s strike , the staffer’s allegations were dismissed as sour grapes.

DeGeneres managed to maintain the “be kind” facade until 2018 when things started to snowball out of control.

2018-2020: The Beginning Of The End, And The Final Downfall of Ellen DeGeneres

Beginning in 2018, Ellen DeGeneres began facing an onslaught of allegations that would, ultimately, lead to her downfall.

Even though some cultural critics claim, falsely, that DeGeneres is a victim of a political hit job, that’s entirely untrue.

In 2018, Corinne Olympios — whom you know from “The Bachelor” — detailed her uncomfortable experience  with DeGeneres when she was a guest on her show.

She was very cold when I saw her before the show, which I don’t think I was supposed to, because everybody got very nervous when we bumped into each other and you could tell they were like, ‘Oh, s**t’.

But that wasn’t the first time that reports of DeGeneres’ less-than-sunny persona began surfacing. During an extensive interview with The New York Times to promote her 2018 Netflix stand-up special, Ellen DeGeneres revealed that she was “playing a character ” on her talk show, suggesting that she was nothing like the bubbly persona she’d built for herself over the years.

Despite this, she renewed her show’s contract in May 2019, while not-quite-joking that she’s doing it for the money . That September, she was spotted with George W. Bush (which led to her infamous “we’re all different” monologue defending her friendship with the notoriously conservative former president).

Check out a video of that infamous monologue below.

And while there are some critics who suggested that her 2020 downfall was due to comedian Kevin Porter’s viral tweet , the real culprit was an April 2020 report  that revealed Ellen DeGeneres’ failure to communicate with her employees at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

That led to the now-infamous Buzzfeed report , and here we are today.

Ellen DeGeneres
Ellen DeGeneres deserves no applause for giving people the most basic of necessities. | Source: Twitter 

While Ellen DeGeneres has certainly bounced back from scandal before, it’s highly unlikely she’s going to be able to do so now. Considering how influential she once was, that ignoble ending is very, very tragic in its own way.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of CCN.com.