Though she officially bade farewell Thursday afternoon, it feels as if Ellen DeGeneres left the air a year or two ago. Such was the mutedness of the talk-show host’s valedictory run — most likely the result of a 2020 exposé that alleged a “toxic” workplace behind the scenes of a series that encouraged fans to “be kind.” But the comedian, host, sitcom star and film actor has been in the spotlight for so long that it’s worth wondering which DeGeneres we’ll remember most.
DeGeneres and guests Jennifer Aniston, Billie Eilish and Pink shared memories and affection on Thursday as The Ellen DeGeneres Show concluded its Emmy-winning, 3,200-plus episode run that began in September 2003.
“Daytime is important. People rely on it,” says Jack Abernethy, CEO of the Fox Television Stations. “But … daytime has to be refreshed, just like every medium.”
After 19 seasons, Ellen DeGeneres’ last episode as host of The Ellen DeGeneres Show will air on Thursday, May 26. A few of the more than 4,000 guests on the show are slated to return for a final visit — and walk down memory lane — in the months leading to the finale, including former First Lady Michelle Obama, Jennifer Garner, Channing Tatum, Serena Williams, Zac Efron, Adam Levine, Behati Prinsloo, Gwen Stefani, David Letterman, Diane Keaton, Kim Kardashian, and DeGeneres’ wife, Portia de Rossi. And as the show is coming to an end, DeGeneres is handing out bonuses to employees and crew members based on years of service, sources say. She also gave the team gifts to celebrate the start of the final season last fall.
Hank Price: “I, for one, did not expect Ellen’s initial nervousness and lack of comfort [in her first show of the new season]. The past few weeks must have been far more difficult than anyone imagined. Instead of naturalness, Ellen had to call on her inner reserves and go into full actor mode. A highly placed executive who is not part of the show told me: “No one looked more relieved than Ellen when it was over.”
The code-named “Puppy Episode” of her sitcom ABC Ellen that aired April 30, 1997, was more than just a hit. It was one of those huge cultural “where were you” moments for anybody remotely interested in TV, or the advancement of LGBTQ people working in TV, or who were itching to come out of their closets at home at a still-perilous time.