Today's Birthday 26/1

William Ton
Ellen DeGeneres has hosted her own talk show since 2003

Today's Birthday, January 26: American comedian and TV host Ellen DeGeneres (1958 - )

American TV host Ellen DeGeneres has joined a long list of international celebrities who have chipped in to raise money for those affected by the Australian bushfires.

The popular daytime show host launched a $5 million GoFundMe campaign to raise money for firefighting services and wildlife shelters, telling her fans on social media, "Australia is in an emergency like nothing anyone on earth has seen before".

The American comedian again mentioned the bushfires in her recent Golden Globes speech after winning the Carol Burnett Award for Achievement in Television.

Born on January 26 1958 in New Orleans, Louisiana, DeGeneres is the daughter of an insurance salesman and a working mother, who split when she was 13.

After completing high school in Atlanta in 1976, she returned home to study communications at the University of New Orleans.

But she left after a single semester and began working in a variety of odd jobs, from waitressing and clerical work, to bartending and retail sales.

It was then that DeGeneres first discovered her knack for making people laugh and started performing at a local coffeehouse.

In 1982, the aspiring comedian won US cable network Showtime's Funniest Person in America contest and moved to San Francisco to pursue a career in stand-up.

Four years later, after an extensive cross-country tour, she made her television debut on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

DeGeneres eventually found success as an actress in 1994 as the star of her own show Ellen, which lasted four seasons and earned two Emmy nominations.

At the height of her popularity, DeGeneres publicly came out as gay in 1997.

She cemented her name in the industry with her daytime talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, which first aired in 2003. As of 2020, the high-rating program has won 61 Daytime Emmy Awards.

DeGeneres, who has hosted both the Oscars and the Primetime Emmys, also played the voice of Dory in the box office hit Finding Nemo and its 2016 sequel, Finding Dory.

In 2012, the TV comedian received the Kennedy Center's Mark Twain Prize for American Humor and in 2016, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former president Barack Obama.

DeGeneres is married to Australian Portia de Rossi, with whom she lives in Beverly Hills.