Ellen DeGeneres, honoree of the 76th annual Golden Globes Awards’ Carol Burnett Award, is married to Portia de Rossi. The two were married at their Beverly Hills home on August 16, 2008 in an intimate ceremony including their mothers along with 17 other guests.
When the couple tied the knot in 2008, they were one of the most prominent couples to do so after the Supreme Court of California legalized same-sex marriage. Prior to getting together, de Rossi said she knew DeGeneres was the one, but she was afraid to speak up because she was not living as an openly gay person at the time. The pair started dating nearly four years later shortly after meeting again and chatting at VH1’s ’04 awards in Los Angeles.
In 2010, de Rossi filed a petition to change her name legally to Portia Lee James DeGeneres, though she still goes by Portia de Rossi in Hollywood. The couple has been plagued by divorce rumors throughout their years of marriage, but they celebrated their 11th wedding anniversary in 2019.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. De Rossi is a Retired Actress
Though de Rossi’s most recent acting credit is a voice role on Family Guy in 2017, the actress recently revealed on the Ellen show that she was retiring from acting. In 2018 while visiting her wife’s show, de Rossi announced that she would quit acting. This came on the heels of Cameron Diaz announcing her retirement.
“I made this decision about 18 months ago,” de Rossi said in the interview. “Shonda Rhimes wrote me off Scandal. It was fine. I called Mitch Hurwitz, who created Arrested Development, and I said if there is a Season 5 I won’t be doing it because I quit acting. He seemed really understanding and he totally got it. We had a great conversation—and then he wrote me into five episodes. Don’t know how it happened, but, yes, I am on Season 5.”
De Rossi quit acting to spend more time focusing on her business, General Public. The company is an art curation and publishing business that utilizes Synograph, a 3D technology that prints paintings. De Rossi studied art in school and developed the technology alongside Fujifilm.
On top of General Public, De Rossi and DeGeneres also have a side business flipping houses for profit. They have flipped houses and then sold them to celebrities like Ryan Seacrest in 2012, and they sometimes buy houses from celebrities and later sell them. In 2011, they bought a home from Brad Pitt.
De Rossi is known for starring on Arrested Development for 70 episodes starting in 2003. She also appeared in Better Off Ted from 2009-2010 and has been acting professionally in movies and on TV since 1994.
2. She Was Previously Married
Ellen is not de Rossi’s first spouse; she was married to documentary filmmaker Mel Metcalfe from 1996 to 1999. She has since said she originally married Metcalfe to get a green card to stay in the US, but she couldn’t go through with it in the end.
Metcalfe left de Rossi in 1999. He then got together with Renee Kappos, the wife of de Rossi’s older brother Michael Rogers. Metcalfe and Kappos later got married. In her book, Unbearable Lightness: A Story of Loss and Gain, she recalls what it felt like at that time.
“When my husband left me, my brother moved into my place,” she writes in her memoir. “My husband ran off with his wife, so we kept each other company and we liked to go out for margaritas and Mexican food to commiserate.”
3. De Rossi Gives Out Meaningful Birthday Gifts
For her wife’s 60th birthday, de Rossi established a wildlife fund. De Rossi surprised DeGeneres during a taping of her show to announce the gift. The pair are both animal lovers, and de Rossi is vegan.
“I am here to give you your gift,” de Rossi begins. She discusses how she decided on the gift and then continues. “For like the last two years, Ellen has said to me ‘I feel like I’m not doing enough.’ Every day, almost. So I put all that together and I got you this gift. Let’s see it. Happy birthday.”
She then plays a video about Ellen’s love of animals and how she has always looked up to animal researcher Dian Fossey. The video reveals the gift is the Ellen DeGeneres campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund, a way for DeGeneres to carry on Dian’s legacy. On top of the campus, de Rossi set up The Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund, which allows people to donate in order to help save elephants and gorillas.
“I’ve always said, when we got married, Portia’s line was, ‘it’s good to be loved, it’s profound to be understood,'” Ellen says in the above video, after tearing up in response to the gift. “And she understands me because that is the best gift anyone could have given me.”
For DeGeneres’ 61st birthday, de Rossi got DeGeneres gardening tools because of her love of gardening. De Rossi also visited the wildlife campus in Rwanda to attend the groundbreaking since DeGeneres had to work.
4. She has an Interesting Response to Divorce Rumors
De Rossi has an interesting response to divorce rumors that sometimes surround the celebrity couple. Articles about the rumors circulated in late 2019, saying the couple was in “divorce hell.”
In response to these rumors, DeGeneres uploaded a black and white picture of their wedding day to Instagram. The caption reads “Happy anniversary, Portia. 11 years. My favorite number with my favorite person.”
This was not the first time the couple has faced divorce rumors, though. In 2018, Portia spoke about her response to the rumors, both about divorce and pregnancy, with Us Weekly.
“The divorce rumors came and then we really knew the perceptions had changed,” she said. “I know it sounds ridiculous, but when that started happening, I thought ‘Oh, now we’re finally accepted.’ We get the same sh*t as every couple.”
5. The Couple Does Not Plan on Having Children
According to an interview Ellen DeGeneres’ mom, Betty DeGeneres, did with Us Magazine, de Rossi and DeGeneres do not plan on having kids.
This confirms what DeGeneres has said on the Today show previously.
“I love kids, but that’s such a big commitment,” she said at the time. “It seems long-term. It seems like a commitment that you have to stick with. And I just don’t know if I can. It’s too risky.” She continues on to joke about what would happen if she didn’t like her kid.
In 2014, Ellen told People that she thought they’d be great parents, but being a parent is a lot of work and responsibility. She continued on, saying that the couple loves their animals.
In 2017, Ellen and Portia had a total of six pets: three dogs (Wolf, Augie and Kid) and three cats (Charlie, George and Chairman). She told Good Housekeeping that Charlie is her favorite. Since then, the couple rescued a poodle named Wallis.