When “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” first aired in 2003, the world was essentially a different place. Gay marriage wasn’t legal, the iPhone didn’t exist, and neither did social media. However, thousands of lives have changed thanks to Ellen DeGeneres and her platform. The show also collected over 60 Emmys during its runtime. In the two weeks in the run-up to the finale of her long-running talk show, Ellen DeGeneres was emotional, sources told Page Six.

At the Warner Bros. studios in California, which she has called home for almost 20 years, DeGeneres filmed her final episode of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on April 28. The last show, which will air on May 26, features an A-list lineup of guests, including Jennifer Aniston and Pink — both of whom appeared on the very first episode on September 8, 2003. Billie Eilish, Michelle Obama, Justin Timberlake, and Zac Efron also turned up for the last few shows.

Still, while DeGeneres was sad to see the end of her 19-year run, she didn’t want to go out with a bang. There was no red carpet at her final show, as some knew her had wished to have. DeGeneres’ wife, Portia de Rossi, was on set for the last two weeks to support her, as were many of the comedian’s friends and her brother Vance DeGeneres.

DeGeneres famously came out as gay on her hit sitcom “Ellen” 25 years ago. Her talk show was similarly groundbreaking. After a scandal that nearly made her quit in 2020, a senior industry insider who knows DeGeneres observed, “People forget this was a culture-changing show. When Ellen started the show, she was told by the studio, ‘You can’t say “we” when you talk about your girlfriend,’ that’s what she was dealing with at the beginning.”

“No one ever thought that the show would be aired, even to sell it, in the beginning, was so difficult. She always wanted to go to 19 seasons, and she had people who relied on her for their livelihoods. She pushed through those last two years. But it was a great run,” the senior industry continued.

DeGeneres, who has hosted over 4,000 guests, played over 2,000 games, and given away almost half a billion dollars to viewers and people in need, celebrated the show’s end at a party in Hollywood with only crew and friends. No celebrities were invited.

The intimate vibe was typical Ellen, insiders say. “When you look back at all the things she’s done for people over the 19 years, it’s powerful. There were 270 staffers on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” when DeGeneres bade farewell on her last episode, and according to those on set, she paid tribute to them. And they also praised her. She has paid out millions in bonuses to staffers.

As for what’s next for Ellen, she’s going to Rwanda in June, where she set up the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. The Ellen Fund’s initial goal was to help secure a future for wild mountain gorillas by building The Dian Fossey Fund a permanent home.

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