In mere seconds, a 20-something Ellen DeGeneres found her life turned upside. But before the comedian and talk show host became famous, this Louisiana native found focus in her life after the loss of a loved one that rocked her to her core. It's something she says she has never forgotten.
Young And Naive
Ellen and her live-in girlfriend had been arguing, then broke up. To take her mind off of things, she went to watch her brother's band play. The ex was there, but Ellen brushed her off. So she left, but called Ellen, begging her to come home with her, as Ellen had moved out. But Ellen pretended she couldn't hear her because the music was too loud. Ellen said she had intended to move back in, but thought she was teaching her a lesson.
As Ellen headed home from watching her brother's band, she passed a car that had been split in two. They came upon the scene even before rescue workers had arrived, but sirens could be heard approaching the area. So Ellen and her car full of friends headed on home. The next morning, Ellen learned the devastating news. Her ex-girlfriend had been in that car.
Ellen said she felt like she should've gone home with her that night and her ex wouldn't have been in that car that crashed. But the accident made her realize "how fragile, how easily" you can lose someone.
"In an instant she was gone and that was really hard."
The accident shifted Ellen's entire focus and altered her life. She said they had lived in a tiny basement apartment blanketed with fleas and their mattresses on the floor. The ceilings were so low that they couldn't stand upright. But it was empty. Because she was gone.
So Ellen decided that since she couldn't "pick up the phone and call God," she put pen to paper and starting writing. She recorded the entire conversation she and her ex had that fateful night. She realized when she was done writing that it was a piece Johnny Carson would love. So she was determined to share it on his show. In 1986, Ellen did just that. She appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson and shared her version of what a phone call to God might be like.
"I understand what it means to be on the edge of hurt."
Watch this video where Ellen shares her story about the life-altering accident.
Life After Johnny
Ellen not only appeared on The Tonight Show, but she earned her own sitcom, aptly named Ellen. She now has her own talk show. But the memory of that one night where she lost a love tragically, has always remained in the back of her mind and guides her outlook and thoughts still today.