In 1997, Ellen DeGeneres made history when she came out as gay. She was featured on the cover of Time, and of course, announced it in memorable fashion on her sitcom, Ellen. On Friday, DeGeneres will be looking back at that landmark moment, and her popular daytime talk show has released a preview clip.
“You are here on a very special day,” Ellen DeGeneres tells the audience of her daytime show. “Today we’re celebrating the 20th anniversary of the coming out episode of my sitcom. … It was the first time a lead character on TV had come out. This was before Will & Grace, Cam and Mitchell [from Modern Family] and Hoda and Kathie Lee.”
During her monologue, DeGeneres explained why that coming out episode was titled “The Puppy Episode.” “We wanted to keep it a secret until it aired and because ‘Ellen Throws Her Career Away’ seemed too on the nose,” she joked. “Actually the real reason we call it ‘The Puppy Episode’ is because when writers told the executives that they wanted me to come out, because my character needed to be in a relationship after four years of not being in a relationship, someone at the studio said, ‘Well, get her a puppy. She’s not coming out.’”
“The Puppy Episode” featured memorable appearances from Oprah Winfrey and Laura Dern. Winfrey praised DeGeneres’s bravery. “President Obama wouldn’t have said those wonderful things about you, that were all so true,” she noted. “You wouldn’t have been able to open hearts and touch hearts and change people’s minds and make a difference in the world had you not had the courage to do that.”
Dern told DeGeneres that playing the part of Susan was one of the greatest honors of her life. “I remember kind of holding each other up through this very emotional moment. It was so profound, and I feel so blessed that I got to be there and witness that,” Dern said. “Well, thank you for being there for me, because it really was a charged moment,” DeGeneres replied. “It was really amazing.”
Ellen airs weekdays in syndication. Check local listings.
Watch: Ellen DeGeneres Talks to Yahoo About “The Puppy Episode”
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