As two actresses coming to terms with their own sexuality, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi crossed paths almost as if fate had brought them together. Both coming out of complicated relationships, the two found solace in each other in 2004, before getting hitched four years later. However, even though they are prominent in the public eye, DeGeneres and de Rossi have quite an extensive relationship history – one which is littered with peculiar tidbits and scandalous secrets. Here are 20 facts that shine an even bigger spotlight onto this already high-profile marriage.
20. There’s a substantial age gap
They say age is just a number, and Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi are proving that fact. DeGeneres happens to be 59 years old, but de Rossi is 44 – meaning there’s a 15-year gap between the two lovebirds. However, it certainly isn’t deterring them.
19. They bought the same house twice
Yes, after selling their Hollywood Hills home to Jodie Foster’s now wife, Alexandra Hedison, in 2007, they decided they wanted it back again in 2014 – purchasing the house not once, but twice in in the space of a decade. Indecisive, ladies?
18. Their first kiss was in the back of a car
Once they got together in 2004, DeGeneres and de Rossi appeared practically inseparable. However, did you know that they actually shared their first smooch in the back of a limo? The revelation was revealed in 2015 during a segment on DeGeneres’ show called the Not-So-Newlywed Game.
17. De Rossi dated Ringo Starr’s stepdaughter
Before de Rossi hooked up with DeGeneres, she was in a four-year relationship with director Francesca Gregorini – daughter of Bond girl Barbara Bach and stepdaughter of Beatles drummer Ringo Starr. The two broke up when de Rossi began dating DeGeneres, the first time the former came out publicly about her sexuality…
16. De Rossi kept her sexual orientation hush-hush
De Rossi only came out to the world at the 2004 Golden Globe Awards. Speaking on Inside the Actors Studio, she recalled: “That was the first time that we actually stepped out together as a couple, but for me, it was the first time I stepped out as a gay woman.”
15. One of them has a totally made-up name
Most people in their teens go through radical changes, and de Rossi was no different. In fact, she changed her name. That’s right, Portia de Rossi was born Amanda Lee Rogers. She told The Advocate in 2005: “In retrospect, I think it was largely due to my struggle about being gay.”
14. DeGeneres came out as lesbian on an episode of her own sitcom
Back when she was predominantly an actress, DeGeneres actually came out as lesbian on her own sitcom in 1997. In ‘The Puppy Episode,’ she screams “I’m gay!” at the airport – only to find that it’s been picked up by a microphone and transmitted to the whole building. The episode garnered critical adulation, winning two Emmy Awards.
13. Their collaborative television show wasn’t a winner
While the couple have never actually acted alongside each other, they did have a short-lived project in 2012 called The Smart One. DeGeneres was an executive producer, and de Rossi was one of the lead roles. But the pilot episode was a no-brainer for television networks. As in they said no.
12. Divorce may be on the cards
For almost a decade, this star-studded couple has had to endure many allegations regarding an impending divorce. As recently as 2017, sources have been asserting that their relationship is on the rocks. One alleged insider told Closer in June: “It’s just a matter of time before the whole world knows.”
11. They like to play pranks on each other
DeGeneres and de Rossi certainly don’t take themselves too seriously, as evidenced by the humorous pranks the two play on each other. From waiting in cupboards to scare each other, to engaging in some embarrassing covert video recordings, this married couple seem to have plenty of fun.
10. De Rossi was married before… to a man
Before de Rossi came out as a lesbian, she was married to a man: director Mel Metcalfe. Speaking about her marriage in The Advocate in 2005, de Rossi said: “I actually married him, for a green card. But I didn’t get my green card through him – I couldn’t do it at the end.”
9. DeGeneres had a heart-breaking split
It isn’t just de Rossi who’s had past relationship problems. In fact, DeGeneres engaged in a four-year romance with Anne Heche towards the end of the ‘90s that ended less than well in 2000. In fact, she was reportedly devastated by the break-up, even questioning whether Heche ever really loved her.
8. Eating disorders have been an issue
De Rossi suffered self-esteem and anxiety issues in her 20s, leading to an extreme eating disorder which saw her drop to just 82 pounds. She revealed the story in her book Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain. She credited DeGeneres for her change: “She has taught me that who I am is perfectly good enough.”
7. Sweet sixth anniversary
De Rossi was still clearly smitten with DeGeneres when their sixth wedding anniversary rolled around. As a gift to her partner, she had the word ‘six’ written in the sky in huge letters. Elated with the present, DeGeneres tweeted a picture, writing: “Look what my wife did for our wedding anniversary. Six!”
6. They are both animal-rights activists
Both DeGeneres and De Rossi are vegans, and part of the reason for that stems from their love of animals. DeGeneres even received PETA’s Woman of the Year in 2009. In 2011, after receiving a similar accolade, she said: “I wish we lived in a world where caring for animals wasn’t so rare that it deserved an award.”
5. Their wedding ceremony was homely
Upon hearing the news that California had made same-sex marriage legal, de Rossi and DeGeneres celebrated in style by getting married in their own home in 2008. Apparently, DeGeneres proposed to the blonde beauty with a pink diamond ring!
4. Nick Jonas lives in DeGeneres’ house… technically
In what sounds like the best arrangement ever, Nick Jonas is DeGeneres’ tenant. And it makes him anxious. As he revealed on Ellen in 2015: “I’m so nervous though the whole time I’m there, because I know I’m gonna come on the show… and if anything’s wrong with the house it’s bad.”
3. There have been allegations of domestic abuse
On a more serious note, there have been accusations that DeGeneres is abusive towards her spouse. One insider told In Touch Weekly in 2014: “Portia secretly taped some of their arguments,” before elaborating, “She was drunk. Then she threatened to expose Ellen as controlling and manipulating.”
2. There are no plans for children in the future
DeGeneres and de Rossi seem to enjoy each other’s company, and they don’t want anybody to spoil that, even their own kids. As DeGeneres said in her 2011 book Seriously… I’m Kidding: “We thought about it. We love to be around children after they’ve been fed and bathed. But we ultimately decided that we don’t want children of our own.”
1. The pair’s home is eye-wateringly expensive
This power couple like to live the high life, and their flashy LA home is a case in point. Bought for a whopping $40 million in 2014, the house is said to exceed 13,000 square feet. If that wasn’t enough, there’s also a tennis court, pool, gym and spa. Ka-ching.
While we now know much of what it’s like behind closed doors in Ellen and Portia’s marriage, what about backstage on her famous talk show? Well, given how nice the host comes across on screen, you may be surprised to learn that she makes her audience follow some rather bizarre and quite frankly strict rules. So, here’s exactly what you have to do if you join Ellen in the studio.
30. Leave your knitting needles at home
If you fancy making a sweater to beat the boredom of waiting in line for The Ellen DeGeneres Show, then you’re out of luck. You see, the daytime hit strictly prohibits people from taking any knitting needles into the studio. And that’s not the only no-no stated on the show’s official website.
In the FAQs section, prospective audience members are also warned that they are not allowed to bring any other type of sharp object with them – and this rules out knives and scissors, of course. To little surprise, weapons of any kind are strictly forbidden, as is the self-defense spray known as mace.
29. No shouting out things
The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s audience members are constantly whipped into a frenzy by the warm-up guy. Barely a minute goes by without them being asked to dance like no-one’s watching or whoop and holler like cheerleaders. However, it turns out that there is still a limit to that crowd participation.
Yes, while fans are asked to be as vocal as possible when DeGeneres and her celebrity guests enter the stage, there’ll be trouble if they try to make their voices heard while the show is in full flow. Screaming things from the crowd – no matter how complimentary – is another big no-no.
28. Metal detectors are used
“Think airport security: if you can’t take it into the airport, it is not allowed at WB.” That’s the advice given on the FAQs section of The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s official website. And anyone heading to the Warner Bros. studios for a taping should be aware that the airport security reference isn’t an exaggeration.
Indeed, in a report for Australian website news.com.au, an unnamed insider gave the lowdown of what it’s like to be an audience member on the hit daytime show. And one of the many areas that they discussed was the various security measures in place. In particular, the anonymous source revealed that anyone entering the studio must first walk through a metal detector.
27. Prepare to be cold
Given the array of dazzling bright lights, you may expect The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s studio to be more akin to an oven than a freezer. However, that couldn’t be further removed from the truth. In fact, audience members are far more likely to catch a chill than to work up a sweat.
Indeed, if you’re attending a taping, then it might be advisable to wear as many thermals as possible since the air conditioning remains high throughout. As the show’s warm-up man constantly encourages the crowd to bust some moves, though, the constant coolness may sometimes come as a relief.
26. No autographs
Autographs may be considered relatively old-fashioned in the age of the selfie. But if you happen to be something of a camera-shy fan and want proof that you have been in the presence of daytime TV royalty, then it’s tough luck. That’s right: DeGeneres doesn’t ever sign her name for audience members.
Both the size of the audience and lack of time are cited as reasons why DeGeneres doesn’t put pen to paper. And these are also excuses for why the star doesn’t engage in any physical contact. Yes, while the show itself may have a touchy-feely vibe, hugs with DeGeneres are strictly forbidden.
25. Arrive in the biggest car you can
Thinking of heading down to the famous Warner Bros. studio in your own vehicle to watch a taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show? Well, you may want to think again. Indeed, paying a visit to the nearest car rental place before your trip may ultimately prove to be extremely lucrative.
What’s more, audience members are advised beforehand to arrive at the studio in the largest cars that they can get their hands on. Why? Well, the bigger the vehicle, the more space there is available to cram in the freebies. And those who attended the Mother’s Day episode in 2017 were able to leave with a mountain of gifts – including high chairs, strollers and car seats as well as an Amazon Echo each.
24. Fans have to dress for the occasion
If your fashion sense can be described as gothic, then chances are you’ll be turned away from The Ellen DeGeneres Show set. That’s because – as you’d probably expect from a show that’s all about positive vibes – audience members are encouraged to wear their most colorful outfits. All-black – and even all-white – attire is therefore a big no-no.
The show’s producers also frown upon most denim pants, with only “dressy jeans” being allowed. In fact, the guidelines advise ticket holders to aim for “business casual or upscale/trendy attire.” Fitting the syndicated hit’s super-happy brief also means that beachwear, shorts and tees emblazoned with your favorite brands are similarly outlawed.
23. Coordinating outfits isn’t allowed
A ban on all-black and all-white attire isn’t the only major fashion rule that The Ellen DeGeneres Show implements. Groups co-ordinating outfits by color are also frowned upon for reasons unclear. This has led some to speculate that the host doesn’t want anybody in the audience to take attention away from herself and her various celebrity guests.
And the strict dress code doesn’t end there. Because although audience members are encouraged to buy Ellen-related clothes in the backstage hangout known as the “Riff Raff Room,” they can’t show them off on television. Yes, fans won’t actually be allowed to enter the set if they are sporting any official Ellen merchandise.
22. Even celebrities have to dance
The Ellen DeGeneres Show is renowned for encouraging its audience members to show off their best dance moves. Even in the 30-second pauses for the commercial breaks, fans are told to throw some shapes. And it turns out that even the celebrity guests aren’t safe from the constant demands.
In 2017, for example, Octavia Spencer appeared on the daytime hit to promote her acclaimed space race drama Hidden Figures. Then, after being interviewed by the host, she ventured into the audience to enjoy the rest of the show. And while there – and just like everyone else – Spencer was asked to dance along during one of the commercial breaks.
21. You must take care of your own accommodation
Some fans are lucky enough to live within walking distance of the Warner Bros. set. Others, however, have to travel thousands of miles to appear in the audience of The Ellen DeGeneres Show. And if you find yourself in the latter category, don’t expect any advice from the behind-the-scenes team when it comes to finding overnight accommodation.
One of the questions on the show’s online FAQs section is “Do you recommend a hotel in the area?” – the answer to which is quite simply “No.” Instead of being provided with a list of places to stay, audience members are instead advised to find their own hotels on the internet using the 91522 zip code.
20. Fans with special needs must give two weeks’ notice
The Ellen DeGeneres Show prides itself on being inclusive to fans from all walks of life. But those with certain requirements or needs who are attending a recording must give the show’s organizers plenty of warning in advance. In fact, such ticket holders are required to alert producers two weeks beforehand so any arrangements can be made.
This particular rule may seem a little excessive to some. But during this lengthy period of notice, producers can then ensure that any potential issues are ironed out in time for the taping of the show. Besides, all fans reportedly have to do is contact the email address that is listed with their ticket confirmation.
19. Anyone under 14 is out of luck
Of course, not every fan of the comedienne’s multiple Emmy-winning show can be accommodated. If you’re under the age of 14, in fact, the only way you can enjoy the show is by watching it at home. But if you happen to be in your early teens, you can actually attend a taping – as long as someone aged 18 or over accompanies you.
Young fans thinking of trying to sneak into a recording should think again, though. You see, anyone who doesn’t yet look old enough to drink reportedly needs to bring along an official legal document stating their age in order to get into the studio. This rule means, however, that many celebrity guests – such as 13-year-old yodeling sensation Mason Ramsey – wouldn’t technically be allowed to take a seat in the audience.
18. Fans have to line up outside
The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s producers seemingly like to create a sense of anticipation before letting in its audience. After all, fans hopeful of getting a front-row seat to the syndicated hit are first asked to wait outside the Warner Bros. lot in Los Angeles. This includes even those people who’ve already been promised tickets.
Luckily, the City of Angels isn’t particularly renowned for its rainfall. Yet if there does happen to be a sudden shower, fans can likely take refuge in one of the several eateries nearby. It’s been reported, however, that audience members can sometimes end up waiting for hours before producers are ready to let them take their seats.
17. Fans need to be there super early
Getting into The Ellen DeGeneres Show certainly appears to be a lengthy ordeal. If you don’t have guaranteed tickets, after all, you just have to cross your fingers and hope you’re one of the lucky few to get their hands on standby ones. But to be in with any chance of this happening, it seems that you have to be outside the studio super early.
In fact, the show’s official website states that the studio opens up at 9:00 a.m. – but that “it is not within [the producers’] control as to how early people arrive.” So it’s likely that fans without tickets get to the Warner Bros. lot hours earlier to improve their chances of making it inside. And with the taping only typically starting at 12.30 p.m., that makes for one mightily long day.
16. Snacks are forbidden
Audience members aren’t allowed to bring any snacks or beverages with them into the studio. So despite the fact that the taping of The Ellen DeGeneres Show can be a long process, ticket holders must keep their hunger in check until it’s all over. Fortunately, though, food is permitted in the lines outside – and there are a number of restaurants close to the Warner Bros. lot.
Yet there can apparently be severe consequences if anyone is found to have sneaked a bag of potato chips or a can of soda into the studio. It’s even possible that they could be escorted off the set. So if you ever hear the sound of rumbling stomachs the next time you tune into the daytime talk show, you now know why.
15. Fans might be separated from their friends and family
Some The Ellen DeGeneres Show fans are lucky enough to bag tickets for both themselves and up to two of their nearest and dearest. Such groups may even be allowed to enter the studio together. However, there’s no guarantee that the entire group will actually be able to enjoy the daytime phenomenon beside one another.
On the contrary, audience members may find themselves sitting beside complete strangers, due to the show’s strict seating arrangements. Everyone is allocated a numbered ticket when they first arrive into the “holding area,” you see. And this number dictates the order in which each fan is allowed to take their seat on set. So if one party member’s number happens to be much higher or lower than that of the person they’ve come with, chances are they’ll be seated in different rows.
14. Information about the show is kept top secret
Audiences may know what they’re generally going to get when they arrive on The Ellen DeGeneres Show set: an opening monologue; a couple of celebrity interviews; a musical performance; and the odd practical joke or touching human interest story. But the host seemingly still likes to retain at least some elements of surprise.
In fact, the first time that audiences find out which famous faces will be joining Ellen on the sofa is when the stars walk out onto the stage. That’s because the comedienne and her producers refuse to leak any information about the guests in advance. The official reason for this is that the “details change on a daily basis.” The fortunate side effect is that the gasps of amazement that greet each A-list superstar are entirely genuine.
13. The audience must be prepared to dance
If you consider yourself to be shy and retiring, then perhaps The Ellen DeGeneres Show set isn’t the best place for you. After all, the show practically demands that its audience members bust a move. At times, in fact, you could be forgiven for thinking that you’ve wandered onto the set of So You Think You Can Dance.
In fact, ticket holders appear to spend just as much time on their feet as they do in their seats during the taping of the show. And many have later admitted that being in the audience for Ellen can be exhausting work. So if the idea of dancing on national television fills you with dread, it’s perhaps wise to stick to watching the show at home.
12. Each row has to devise their own dance
In 2017 a writer for News.com.au traveled to Los Angeles to report on a day in the life of an audience member for Ellen. And perhaps unsurprisingly, dancing made up a big chunk of their time. In fact, much to her horror, the reporter revealed that fans are even encouraged to become choreographers during the show’s taping.
According to the article, each row of fans were actually asked by the warm-up act to devise their very own dance move and perform it in unison. Yet the writer recalled how her particular row wasn’t exactly keen on this idea. And instead of wowing the rest of the audience with their routine, they wasted their allotted time just staring uncomfortably at one another.
11. Front-row fans must know today’s pop hits
Being Ellen DeGeneres’ number-one fan is reportedly not enough to bag you a prime spot in the audience. That’s because you apparently also need to be up to date with the current U.S. Hot 100. Yes, it seems that those in the coveted “Dance Row” must certainly know their Lil Nas X from their Lizzo.
For when the host dances through the row to take to the stage, these particular audience members must pull double duty. Not only do they have to bust their best moves, but they also have to sing along to the hit that’s playing at the time. Who needs Lip Sync Battle?
10. Game players must be super chipper
Ellen DeGeneres sure loves playing games. She even hosts a spin-off inspired by the games – such as Danger Word, Aw Snap and Blindfolded Musical Chairs – that appear on her daytime talk show. And perhaps unsurprisingly, it seems that the comedienne only wants those who will become fully invested in all of the fun to participate.
So while it may look like audience members are selected randomly to take part in particular games, it seems that they’re actually chosen before taping begins. According to one blogger who had attended a show, you see, potential contestants are vetted based on their levels of enthusiasm while in the line. And if a crowd member impresses producers with their excited face during an interview process, they could then be allowed to show them off to the nation.
9. Even the clapping is choreographed
Of course, it’s not just the dancing and singing that is highly choreographed on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. So while you may think that all the clapping, whooping and hollering that occurs throughout each episode is entirely spontaneous, that’s not actually the case. In fact, the audience are told exactly when and how to respond by a designated staff member.
So ticket holders essentially have to be prepared to follow the choreographers’ directions after they walk through the Warner Bros. studio doors. But there is a benefit to all the pre-show instructions. Yes, the person leading these audience responses might actually give clues as to who the celebrity guests are while whipping the crowd into a frenzy.
8. No T-shirts or shorts
While some TV series may encourage audience members to bare as much flesh as possible, The Ellen DeGeneres Show certainly doesn’t. No matter how high the temperature outside, fans are not allowed to treat a trip to the studio like a trip to the beach.
Indeed, alongside the rules of no monochrome colors, no clothing with logos, no official merchandise and no co-ordinating outfits, audience members are also forbidden from wearing T-shirts and shorts. Summer hats are also not allowed. And anyone arriving on set in a pair of flip-flops will probably be sent packing, too.
7. Producers check your excitement
If you want to increase your chances of getting picked for a game show segment or gift giveaway, then you may need to down a few energy drinks first. After all, producers constantly scour the lines for those hopefuls who appear to be the most excited about their trip to The Ellen DeGeneres Show. And if the crew like what they see, they’ll take you to a special place named the “bungalow.”
Up to 50 people can be invited to the bungalow, and while there they will then be grilled by the producers. “How excited are you?” and “Who is the biggest Ellen fan?” are just a couple of the questions that you can expect to be asked. Answer correctly, and you will move on to the next stage. If you don’t show enough enthusiasm, however, you’re sent back to the parking garage.
6. Fans must get gifts checked by security
With an estimated net worth of $87.5 million, Ellen DeGeneres is likely rich beyond most of her audience’s wildest dreams. But that doesn’t stop fans from wanting to shower the comedienne with gifts. Anybody who wants to deliver a present to the host by hand, however, will probably be out of luck.
Yet audience members can still bring gifts with them to the Warner Bros. lot. But the presents are only given to Ellen once they’ve been officially checked by security. Fans are also forbidden from striding up to the host to express their admiration – or even to ask for a quick celebrity selfie. This is “due to time constraints and the number of people [the producers] accommodate per show.”
5. Fans get just one freebie
You could argue that just having the opportunity to attend The Ellen DeGeneres Show is reward enough. But the host reportedly makes sure that audience members go home even happier – with a piece of merchandise they can treasure forever. However, try and take more than one item and you might be shamed in front of the world.
On one particular occasion, in fact, Ellen discovered that a cheeky member of the audience had attempted to bag several souvenirs during her studio visit. And the comedienne seemingly wasn’t impressed. So, in an apparent attempt to deter any future greedy ticket holders, the host actually aired footage of the fan caught in the act.
4. Chewing gum is forbidden
If you happen to have a pack of Wrigley’s finest with your belongings, chances are you might not get past the studio door. After all, chewing gum is apparently completely frowned upon for The Ellen DeGeneres Show. And there are reportedly several reasons why popping some in your mouth is a major no-no.
Gum-chewing doesn’t appear particularly attractive on the screen, for one thing. And it could also restrict audience members from singing the current pop hit that plays when Ellen enters the stage. Of course, people’s habits of sticking their used gum under chairs could cause havoc for the show’s cleaners, too.
3. You can’t sell your tickets
It turns out that money can’t buy you everything. Yes, in an apparent bid to ensure that fans from all walks of life get to see her in action, Ellen doesn’t allow tickets for her daytime show to go on general sale. So, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some, you won’t be able to make a quick buck from them.
In fact, even auctioning tickets for good causes is strictly forbidden by producers of the show. And the person who arrives at the Warner Bros. lot must correspond with the name that appears on the ticket. If it doesn’t, then there’s every chance that they will be sent packing.
2. Recording the show is a no-no
The Ellen DeGeneres Show is professionally filmed from multiple angles for a 40-minute episode that screens in front of the nation. But that doesn’t stop audience members from wanting to document their experiences themselves. However, any Facebook Live streams or Instagram stories will have to begin and end outside of the studio.
Fans can keep their cellphones, though – as long as they’re switched off while in the studio. Producers have even reportedly been known to confiscate any cells that are in use during the show’s taping. Standalone cameras – digital or otherwise – are also banned from the taping and will likely not make it past the studio door.
1. Travel expenses aren’t reimbursed after a canceled show
Of course, sometimes an episode of The Ellen DeGeneres Show may be canceled due to circumstances beyond producers’ control. Perhaps Ellen is feeling too ill to attend, for example. But along with the disappointment of missing out on a show’s taping, some fans may find themselves out of pocket, too.
That’s because the show doesn’t reimburse fans for any expenses that they may have racked up in order to get to the studio. This might not particularly affect those local to the Los Angeles area. If you’ve flown thousands of miles to be there, however, the cost could be a small fortune.