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Ellen and Oprah Recall Death Threats After Her Coming Out Episode

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20 years ago, Ellen DeGeneres came out on her ABC sitcom, Ellen, in “The Puppy Episode.” 42 million people watched it, but not all of them were happy about it.

Ellen Degeneres, Laura Dern, Demi Moore, Bill Bob Thronton in ABC's Ellen. 'The Puppy Episode' April 30, 1997.
Winfrey and DeGeneres in “The Puppy Episode.” (Photo: ABC/Getty Images)

The backlash was instantaneous for both Ellen as well as Oprah Winfrey, who played her therapist in the momentous episode. The two sat down to talk about it on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. “There were a lot of ‘go back to Africas,'” Oprah recalled, when discussing messages sent to her. “I was like, go back to Africa? Over a sitcom?” Winfrey at the time was no stranger to discrimination, yet even she found the hatred shocking. Ellen remembers receiving death threats and recounted one incident involving a bomb scare.

Ultimately, the comedian and host says everything she went through was worth it. “As long as you stay true to exactly who you are, you will be rewarded in ways that you can’t imagine,” she said.

Watch: Ellen DeGeneres Celebrates Landmark Coming-Out Episode With Oprah Winfrey and Laura Dern

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