Ellen Degeneres was born in 1958 in Metairie, Louisiana. Ellen fell in love with comedy as a young woman, and by the early 1980’s she was performing at the Comedy Club in New Orleans regularly, often serving as emcee. Her big breakthrough came after a performance on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, after which she became the first female comedian to be invited to stick around for a chat, a testament to how much she had impressed Carson. For the next decade, Ellen continued to perform regular stand-up work and she appeared in a few films, including Coneheads in 1993, before ABC approached her with an offer to launch a television series based on her stand-up. The sitcom Ellen debuted in 1994 and ran successfully for four years. The show, and Ellen herself, has become a landmark historical show for its shattering of taboos with regard to homosexuality; shortly after coming out herself, Ellen’s character on the show did the same, becoming the first openly gay lead character in television history. After taking a break for a few years, Ellen returned to launch her own television talk show in 2001, and The Ellen Show has since become a smash-hit daytime favorite, garnering both critical and popular acclaim. The Ellen Show has garnered twenty-five Emmy Awards so far in its run, and it continues to be among CBS’s most highly rated shows. Recently, Degeneres has also become famous for her hosting of the Emmy Awards, the Academy Awards, and for her run as a judge on American Idol in its ninth season. She is set to host the Academy Awards again in March of 2014. In addition to her work on television, DeGeneres is nearly as famous for her voicing of the character Dory in the Disney/Pixar smash hit Finding Nemo, and for her commitment to a variety of charitable and philanthropic endeavors. In particular, as an animal lover and vegan, Ellen is an avid supporter of the Humane Society and other animal-oriented charities.