Scandalous Things About Ellen DeGeneres' Personal Life

The following article mentions addiction and sexual abuse.

We all know about the problems that Ellen DeGeneres has faced in her career. Once considered the nicest woman on television, the comedian's reputation took a major battering in 2020 when various reports emerged of the toxic behind-the-scenes culture of her eponymous daytime chat show. And things got worse when social media piled on with all kinds of horror stories which suggested that she was at the root of the problem.

And then there's the excruciatingly awkward interview where she went back and forth with Dakota Johnson about a birthday party invite, the uncomfortable moment where she asked Mariah Carey to drink champagne to prove she wasn't pregnant, and the insensitive comments she made on screen during the early stages of the pandemic in which she compared living in her spacious and luxurious mansion to a jail. 

But it's not just at the workplace where the former sitcom star has caused headlines for scandalous and serious reasons. From controversial friendships with political figures and feuds with fellow talk show hosts to allegations of controlling behavior and heartbreaking revelations about her childhood, DeGeneres' personal life has had some darker moments, too.

Ellen DeGeneres drove her wife to hospital after consuming three weed drinks

Ellen DeGeneres raised eyebrows in 2021 following a confession she made during an appearance on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" The star essentially admitted to driving under the influence — albeit of three CBD-infused beverages — while recalling the night her wife Portia de Rossi had to undergo an appendectomy.

Apparently not usually much of a weed consumer, DeGeneres revealed she'd enjoyed three Cam Social Tonics — a form of weed drink she'd been recommended by fellow talk show host Chelsea Handler — on the night in question. Unfortunately, soon after, de Rossi needed medical assistance: "I'm laying in bed, and I realize [Portia's] not in bed. She's moaning. I get out of bed, and she's on the ground on all fours, and I said, 'You're not OK.' She goes, 'I'm OK.' I said, 'No, unless you're playing Twister by yourself, you're not OK.' So I rushed her to the emergency room."

When questioned about the fact she went behind the wheel, DeGeneres acknowledged that she was in the wrong: "I did. I mean, I kicked in, like my adrenaline, because I just had to rush her there. It's probably not safe, I shouldn't be saying any of this." Thankfully, de Rossi's subsequent surgery was successful and within a few days she was back home recovering.

Ellen DeGeneres was forced to defend her friendship with George W. Bush

In 2019, Ellen DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi were spotted enjoying a Dallas Cowboys game alongside former POTUS George W. Bush and his other half Laura Bush. The talk show host, a self-described "gay Hollywood liberal," was accused of hypocrisy for hanging out with a Republican Party leader who many believe to be a war criminal.

During a subsequent episode of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show," the host defended her choice of company, telling audiences, "Here's the thing. I'm friends with George Bush. In fact, I'm friends with a lot of people who don't share the same beliefs that I have. We're all different, and I think that we've forgotten that that's okay that we're all different. ... Just because I don't agree with someone on everything doesn't mean that I'm not going to be friends with them."

DeGeneres went on to add, "When I say, 'Be kind to one another,' I don't mean only the people who think the same way that you do. I mean be kind to everyone. Doesn't matter." Although the funnywoman was supported by celebrities like Kristen Bell, Sir Elton John, and Reese Witherspoon, she still received pushback from others, with Mark Ruffalo tweeting, "Sorry, until George W. Bush is brought to justice for the crimes of the Iraq War ... we can't even begin to talk about kindness."

Ellen DeGeneres reportedly didn't allow Anne Heche to 'dress sexy'

Before getting together with Portia de Rossi, Ellen DeGeneres' most high-profile relationship was with Anne Heche. The talk show host and the "Six Days, Seven Nights" star first met at a Vanity Fair Oscars party and dated for three years. Judging by the comments made in the years since their 2000 split, it wasn't entirely amicable.

In 2021, Heche took to TikTok for a journey into her fashion past. And there was one particular outfit that appeared to stir up feelings about her romance with DeGeneres. Referring to the blue gown that she sported at the Golden Globes in 1998, the actor remarked, "Why do I look like a hippie? It's because Ellen didn't want me to dress sexy."

The year previously, Heche was asked by Mr. Warburton magazine about the backlash her ex-girlfriend was experiencing following dramatic revelations about the culture of her daytime talk show. And she didn't exactly defend DeGeneres, remarking (via People), "I haven't spoken to Ellen in years. I'd listen to the people who have. If I'm standing someplace and I don't like what's going on there and I stay there, it's my fault. So what are the actions that got me there and why can't I get out of it easily if that's not something that I want to be engaged in? Ellen is standing where she walks, and that is hers to continue that journey."

Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche ended on messy terms

A year after Ellen DeGeneres and Anne Heche went their separate ways and the general public was still none the wiser as to why the once-golden couple were no more. As it turns out, the talk show host half was as in the dark as the rest of us.

In a 2001 interview with the Los Angeles Times, DeGeneres explained that she was still struggling to cope with the breakup because of the lack of closure. "She walked out the door and I haven't spoken to her since, I don't have the answers. I would love to have them myself. I would ask all of the questions that everyone else wants to ask ... I'm left with everybody else wondering what happened. I don't know."

DeGeneres, who that same year would meet her future wife Portia de Rossi at a Rock the Vote concert, also admitted that being on the receiving end of a dumping was an unusual situation for her: "[I]t was the first time I ever had my heart broken. I'd always been the one to leave relationships, and I had been in long-term relationships, and it was the one time I really believed this is forever."

Ellen DeGeneres was accused of being 'cold' following Anne Heche's death

The showbiz world went into mourning in August 2022 when Anne Heche died from the injuries she suffered in a Los Angeles car accident. The "Psycho" actor had been hospitalized after crashing her vehicle into a house in Mar Vista, slipping into a coma several days later before her family made the agonizing decision to turn off her life support. Inevitably, the press wanted a response from Heche's former girlfriend Ellen DeGeneres. But as one of Heche's friends told The U.S. Sun, the talk show host's initial comment fell short. "It was absolutely shocking for Ellen to be that cold," they said.

When asked by a photographer about Heche's condition shortly after the tragic incident, DeGeneres responded (via Mirror), "We're not in touch with each other, so I wouldn't know." The comedian, who reportedly hadn't spoken to her ex since they broke up at the turn of the century, then added, "I don't want anyone to be hurt."

And DeGeneres didn't have much more to say following the devastating news that Heche had passed away. In her only comment on the tragedy, the former sitcom star took to Twitter to offer her condolences: "This is a sad day. I'm sending Anne's children, family and friends all of my love."

Ellen DeGeneres once snubbed Rosie O'Donnell on TV

In 2004, Ellen DeGeneres was asked about Rosie O'Donnell during an appearance on "Larry King Live" and the fact that her chat show ended around the same time that she came out. The comedian shrugged off the question and stated, "I don't really know Rosie that well. I mean, I've spoken to her, but we're not really friends."

That was certainly news to O'Donnell who believed that she and DeGeneres were incredibly close. Referencing their subsequent feud during a 2023 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, "The Flintstones" star said, "I don't know if it's jealousy, competition, or the fact that she said a mean thing about me once that really hurt my feelings."

O'Donnell went on to say, "I could identify her brother without her in the room. I knew her for so many years. It just felt like I don't trust this person to be in my world." The "A League of Their Own" actor also revealed that DeGeneres recently reached out to see how she's doing and apologize for the comments she made to King, although she also claimed she couldn't remember saying them. O'Donnell added, "I remembered it so well, I had T-shirts printed and I gave them to my staff that said 'I don't know Rosie. We're not friends.'"

A marital argument reportedly led to Portia de Rossi entering rehab

In 2014, reports emerged that Portia de Rossi had entered rehab facility Passages Malibu for 30 days of substance abuse treatment. And according to certain publications, a confrontation with her wife Ellen DeGeneres was the catalyst for her decision to seek professional help.

An anonymous insider told In Touch (via the Daily Mail), "They got into an ugly fight. Portia hadn't been happy for a while and was drinking and isolating [herself], and Ellen confronted her. Portia lost it and blamed Ellen for driving her to drink because of her controlling ways and said she wasn't in love with her anymore. Ellen was crushed and screamed at Portia to get out."

Neither DeGeneres nor de Rossi have ever addressed the claims, however. And another source told the same publication that the comedian had been nothing but supportive of her other half, visiting her at the facility every weekend. But later that same year, Page Six reported that the pair canceled an appearance at an animal charity event at the last minute after getting into another row on the journey there. 

Ellen DeGeneres was molested by her stepfather

In a 2005 interview with Allure magazine (via People), Ellen DeGeneres revealed one of her deepest and darkest family secrets: she'd been molested by her stepfather in her mid-teens. The chat show host also explained that salesman Roy Gruessendorf, who'd married her mother, Betty DeGeneres, shortly after her parents got divorced in the mid-1970s, forced her to run away from home because of the abuse.

Ellen later expanded upon the trauma during an appearance on David Letterman's Netflix series "My Next Guest Needs No Introduction." She said (via E! News), "My mother had had breast cancer right after they got married. So she had a breast removed, and they had a very, very sexual relationship, which was also very uncomfortable for me. And he told me when she was out of town that he'd felt a lump in her breast and needed to feel my breasts because he didn't want to upset her, but he needed to feel mine."

To make matters even worse, Ellen's mom failed to believe her when the star spoke up about the ordeal several years later. In fact, Betty remained with Roy for nearly another two decades before finally realizing that her daughter was telling the truth. She's since apologized to Ellen, telling NBC News (via Vanity Fair), "I live with that regret, and I wouldn't want that for any other parent. If someone in your life has the courage to speak out, please believe them."

Ellen DeGeneres broke up with Alexandra Hedison to be with Portia de Rossi

Following her high-profile split with Anne Heche at the turn of the century, Ellen DeGeneres soon entered into a relationship, this time with photographer Alexandra Hedison. The pair stayed together four years before calling it a day in 2004, and the talk show host freely admits that things ended because she fell in love with another woman.

And to make things even more complicated, said woman, actor Portia de Rossi, was also romantically involved with someone else, screenwriter Francesca Gregorini. In an interview with People about her and de Rossi's early relationship, DeGeneres said, "She had a girlfriend and I had a girlfriend, but it wasn't like, 'Oh, we're going to have an affair. We were just supposed to be together. It was a tough decision. I was physically getting sick because I was trying not to say anything. So I told Alex and she told Francesca. It was really hard to uproot everything."

Luckily, things turned out well for all parties. DeGeneres and de Rossi walked down the aisle in 2008, Hedison did the same with Hollywood A-lister Jodie Foster six years later; Gregorini has been in a relationship with producer Morgan Marling since 2014.

The unconfirmed rumor about her first serious girlfriend's death

In 1980, Ellen DeGeneres was left devastated when her on/off girlfriend Kat Perkoff died in a car crash. And during an appearance on "Oprah's Master Class" nearly three decades later, the chat show host admitted she still felt an incredible amount of guilt over the tragedy. DeGeneres had been living with Perkoff in New Orleans in her early 20s before being forced to move out over financial constraints.

The TV personality recalled how their last meeting, which took place at a show staged by her musician brother, ended badly: "She was trying to get me to come back home. I acted like I couldn't hear her because the music was too loud. I was being really ... dismissive of her." Perkoff left the event without DeGeneres. The following morning, DeGeneres learned that she drove by the wreck that killed Perkoff. The comedian added, "That, of course, made me feel like I should have gone home with her that night. In an instant, she just was gone. It shifted my entire focus." DeGeneres, who also had to grieve quietly as she hadn't yet come out, later channeled the heartbreak she felt into one of her most famous routines, "Phone Call to God." 

This is to be taken with a large grain of salt, but some allegations about Perkoff's death emerged in 2017. According to Radar, the National Enquirer claimed Perkoff's family suspected she'd been killed by the mob. The allegations made in the tabloid remain unconfirmed.

Ellen DeGeneres proved she wasn't much of a dog person

Ellen DeGeneres didn't exactly endear herself to the world's dog lovers in 2007 when it emerged that she and future wife Portia de Rossi had given up their puppy Iggy just months after they adopted the pooch. And they didn't do things the legal way, either.

The scandal that would become dubbed Iggy-gate began when the co-owner of Mutts and Moms, Marina Batkis, leaked emails to the press about DeGeneres and de Rossi's doggy care. Per The Smoking Gun, the pair seemed happy with the pup initially, telling the agency that Iggy was "highly trainable, smart and enthusiastic." But on asking for an update a month later, Batkis learned that their attitude had considerably changed.

De Rossi revealed that she and DeGeneres had decided to pass the canine on to the chat show's hairdresser. "He was just too much energy and time for us in our brand new home," de Rossi wrote. Only problem was that the temporary dog owners didn't do the necessary paperwork. "I was deeply disturbed that you gave Iggy away without my knowledge or permission," Batkis wrote, "and in violation of our legally binding contract."

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