And the Mark Twain Prize Goes to…Ellen!

Here’s something worth dancing about: Ellen DeGeneres is being honored with this year’s Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. The 54-year-old comedian, talk show host and activist is the 15th recipient of the annual award, which recognizes individuals who make a difference through satire and social commentary.

Long before she did push-ups on national television with the First Lady, DeGeneres made headlines as one of the entertainment world’s first openly gay women. DeGeneres revealed her sexuality to the public in Time Magazine in 1997. Her fictionalized persona, the eponymous lead character on ABC’s “Ellen,” came out of the closet soon after.

The special episode drew a record 46 million viewers — and sparked a storm of controversy. Numerous ABC affiliates refused to air the episode and DeGeneres became a hotly debated figure in the 90s culture wars. Amid criticism that DeGeneres was “too gay” and pushing an “agenda,” the sitcom was cancelled a year later.

But the mainstream hardly rejected DeGeneres. Her career quickly bounced back and flourished in films, stand-up, activism and an Emmy Award-winning daytime talk show. Receiving the Mark Twain Prize secures DeGeneres’ place as a beloved pop culture icon.

The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, which grants the Mark Twain Prize, praised DeGeneres’ comic voice and broad appeal.

“Through her television programs, stand-up appearances, movies, and even commercials, her special brand of humor has allowed us to find hilarity in the mundane and has kept us laughing for years,” Kennedy Center Chairman David M. Rubenstein said in a press release.

“It’s such an honor to receive the Mark Twain Prize,” DeGeneres responded in a statement. “To get the same award that has been given to people like Bill Cosby, Tina Fey and Will Ferrell, it really makes me wonder… why didn’t I get this sooner?”

The awards ceremony honoring DeGeneres will be held October 22, 2012 and taped for future broadcast.


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Photo credit: ronpaulrevolt2008 (Creative Commons)

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Annmari Lundin
Annmari Lundin3 years ago

Sandy E.: No. They gave it to her because she is F-U-N-N-Y! And because she uses her wits to take the edge of people like you!
Congrats Ellen! Keep up the good work!

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson3 years ago

congrats! she is pretty darn amazing :)

Deborah F.
Deborah F.3 years ago


roxane connor
Roxane Connor3 years ago

Congrats or as they say now..You go girl!

Susan P.
Susan T.3 years ago

So, because she wears pants we shouldn't put any faith in our Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? Does it make her any less of a woman because she wears pants? I wear nothing but pants. Can't stand dresses and skirts. Too girly for me. But then again I like to get dirty working on cars and literally mending fences, does that make me any less female? Nope. Does it mean I'm gay? Nope. Just means I am more comfy in pants than a dress. It is called personal preference in a free country.

OK, stepping down now. Congrats to Ellen, she deserves it. So lets go buy some Cover Girl make up at JC Penneys'.

Beth K.
.3 years ago

Oh hell, Mari, I bet you put on make-up.

Ellen got where she is by working hard and being herself. And standing up for other people.

Linda McKellar
Past Member 3 years ago

Ellen is GREAT!!! She has a quick wit, compassion, is caring and down to earth. I also think she is very pretty. She has proven herself very generous and giving. I don't care if she boinks men or women. Not my business! She's a hoot! The prize is for humour and humanitarianism. Who should get it? Dick Cheney?

Anita Wisch
Anita Wisch3 years ago

Norene H.
There is NOTHING wrong with a lady wearing pants, unless you are in the 1950s. So please, come into THIS century, with the rest of us!

Teresa Cowley
Teresa Cowley3 years ago

Congrats to Ellen--she sure deserves this award!!

Sheri D.
Sheri D.3 years ago

She deserves this award. And many more ... especially for all the humanitarian work she has done!