Rosie O'Donnell Speaks Up On Ellen DeGeneres Hurting Her Feelings

Rosie O'Donnell was one of the biggest names on TV back when she rose to fame as the host of her eponymous talk show from 1996 to 2002. Ellen DeGeneres was a similarly popular figure at the time, starring in the ABC sitcom "Ellen" from 1994 to 1998, followed by her own eponymous talk show from 2003 until 2022. Many noted similarities between the two around that time — both were outspoken and proud lesbian comedians and talk show hosts, as well as prominent gay rights activists at a time when gay rights and recognition were only beginning to enter the mainstream

In addition, the two had a friendship which stretched beyond the television screen, with O'Donnell even defending DeGeneres upon the rather controversial end of her show earlier in 2022. "It was complicated," O'Donnell told SiriusXM's Jess Cagle of DeGeneres' leave from TV, "and I'm glad that she's, you know, going to be finished and she can get some time to herself."

This is why O'Donnell was so surprised upon some comments DeGeneres made about their relationship. And recently, O'Donnell opened up about how the controversial talk show host really hurt her feelings.

Ellen snubbed Rosie on TV

Despite their apparent similarities and behind-the-scenes friendship, Rosie O'Donnell never appeared on Ellen DeGeneres's long-running talk show. In fact, apparently, O'Donnell was never even invited.

In an interview with Andy Cohen on September 15, O'Donnell spoke out about a moment around the start of DeGeneres' own talk show, in which she sat down for an interview with Larry King, and he asked her "what ever happened" to O'Donnell. O'Donnell, who was watching the interview, was blown away by DeGeneres' response, which she recalls verbatim: "I don't know Rosie," O'Donnell says DeGeneres said, "we're not friends." O'Donnell said that she thought, "'Did I just hear that? Or was that like a hallucination, auditory voice?' ... It hurt my feelings like a baby, and I never really got over it." 

This is not the first time that O'Donnell has spoken out about why she never appeared on DeGeneres' show, however. In 2020, she gave a different reason: She was worried DeGeneres would do one of her signature sneak attacks on her. "You know how Ellen surprises everyone?" O'Donnell said on Busy Philipps's podcast. "I've never done that show because I'm terrified she's going to scare me and give me a heart attack." In the end, perhaps O'Donnell just needed some time to speak more truthfully about DeGeneres, though she did say in the Cohen interview that she "wish[es] her all good things."