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Ellen DeGeneresEllen Lee DeGeneres (born January 26, 1958) is an American stand-up comedian, television host and actress.  She hosts the syndicated talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and is also a judge on American Idol, having joined the show in its ninth season.

She has hosted both the Academy Awards and the Primetime Emmys.  As a film actress, she starred in Mr.  Wrong, appeared in EDtv and The Love Letter, and provided the voice of Dory in the Disney-Pixar animated film Finding Nemo, for which she awarded a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress, the first and only time a voice acting won a Saturn Award.  She also starred in two television sitcoms, Ellen from 1994 to 1998 and The Ellen Show from 2001 to 2002.  In 1997, during the fourth season of Ellen, she came out publicly as a lesbian in an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show.  Shortly afterwards, her character Ellen Morgan also came out to a therapist played by Winfrey, and the series went on to explore various LGBT issues including the coming out process.  She has won twelve Emmys and numerous awards for her work and charitable efforts.

DeGeneres was raised in Metairie, Louisiana, the daughter of Betty Jane DeGeneres, a speech therapist, and Elliott DeGeneres, an insurance agent.  She has one brother, Vance DeGeneres, who is a producer and musician.  She is of French, English, German and Irish descent.  DeGeneres was raised as a Christian Scientist until the age of thirteen.  DeGeneres' parents filed for separation in 1973 and were divorced the following year.  Shortly after, Betty Jane remarried Roy Gruessendorf, who worked as a salesman.  Betty Jane and DeGeneres moved with Gruessendorf from the New Orleans area to Atlanta, Texas.  Vance stayed with their birth father.

DeGeneres graduated from Atlanta High School in May 1976, after completing her first years of high school at Grace King High School in Metairie, Louisiana.  She moved back to New Orleans to attend the University of New Orleans, where she majored in communication studies.  After one semester, she left school to do clerical work in a law firm with her cousin Laura Gillen.  She also held a job selling clothes at the chain store the Merry-Go-Round at the Lakeside Shopping Center.  Other working experiences included being a waitress at TGI Friday's and another restaurant, a house painter, a hostess, and a bartender.  She relates much of her childhood and career experiences in her comedic work.

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