Actress and comedian Ellen DeGeneres broke new ground for women in the world of comedy: one of the most successful female standups of her generation, she parlayed her club success into television, movies, records, books, and a talk show, later making history for her portrayal of TV's first openly gay lead character. Born January 26, 1958 in Metairie, LA, DeGeneres worked a variety of odd jobs in the New Orleans area after high school and before making her standup debut in 1981 at an area coffeehouse's amateur hour. A year later, she won a "Funniest Person in America" competition sponsored by the Showtime cable network. Buoyed by her success, DeGeneres moved to San Francisco -- at the time a hotbed of standup clubs -- and launched a comedy career largely steeped in observational humor. However, it was a more personal tour de force, a ...
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