Ellen DeGeneres is one of those women who seems ageless. Her energy, kindness and ability to make us laugh evidently have no bounds. However, Ellen is, in fact, mortal, and her 55th birthday is January 26th.
The celebrations started early on “The Ellen Degeneres Show” — readers sent in virtual gifts, and Ellen played a slideshow of her unbelievably adorable baby photos. And let’s not forget the birthday cake.
Recently we commemorated Michelle Obama’s 49th birthday with a list of 49 things we love about the first lady, and we created a similar list for Hillary Clinton when she turned 65 in October. It’s only fitting that we give Ellen the tribute she deserves, too.
So here’s our list, 55 reasons to love Ellen Degeneres on her 55th:
1. She finally brought Kristen Bell a sloth. After Bell revealed her sloth-related 31st birthday breakdown on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in early 2012, Ellen joked that she had a cute sloth waiting backstage to introduce Bell to. Ellen finally made good on that promise during Bell’s January 2013 appearance, when Ellen invited the actress to feed bananas to a visiting sloth named Lola.
2. In 2008, Ellen told Modern Dog magazine: “My life is my journey, and mine alone. I either feel good about something, or if I don’t, I know I made a mistake [and I] learn from it.”
3. She has her own ride at Disney. Ellen’s Energy Adventure is a popular attraction at the Epcot Future World park.
5. Her hilarious campaign to appear on the cover of O, The Oprah Magazine. Ellen begged her way onto the cover of O by mentioning it on her show constantly, photoshopping images of herself onto existing covers of past issues and creating an “O Yes I Can” vision board. In December 2009, Ellen’s wish came true when she appeared with Oprah on an O cover. The only other person who had ever been pictured with Oprah was Michelle Obama.
6. She’s funny without cursing — because it’s more difficult. In 2004, she told NBC‘s Stone Phillips:” I mean, if you put “f***” in front of anything, an audience is going to laugh. You know? It just– it’s easy. And I like a challenge.”
7. The best seat in the house at “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” is reserved for Ellen’s mom, Betty. In the October 2011 issue of Good Housekeeping, David Hochman wrote that Ellen’s octogenarian mother was a regular at tapings of her daughter’s show.
8. She was the voice of Dory in “Finding Nemo.”
9. She’s an advocate for the environment, and encourages her viewers to think about how they can affect change on ecological issues. She was quoted in “The Green Book” as saying: “People don’t realize how little it takes to change our world for the better.”
10. Her motto is “Let’s try to beat that.”
11. She challenged Michelle Obama to a push-up contest — and lost gracefully. When FLOTUS appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” in early 2012 to promote “Let’s Move!,” Ellen challenged her to a push-up competition. It didn’t end well for Ellen, but she was a good loser.
12. She believes that humor should always be kind, and holds herself to a high standard of compassion. She told Good Housekeeping:
“The most important thing for me is to know that I represent kindness. I’m glad I’m funny. I’m glad I make people happy, because that’s very important. But I’m proud to be known as a kind person. You listen to any monologue on late-night TV or just in general, to people talking, and there’s always a joke at someone’s expense. It’s sarcasm; it’s nasty.
Kids grow up hearing that, and they think that’s what humor is, and they think it’s OK. But that negativity permeates the entire planet.”
13. She became an ethical vegan in 2009 — at the age of 50, proving it’s never too late to live according to your beliefs.
14. She worked a variety of jobs before getting into her groove as a comedian. In her teens and early twenties, Ellen worked as a legal associate, vacuum salesperson, TGIFriday’s waitress, house painter, oyster shucker and sales clerk, among other things. She has stated that these experiences inspired many of her early comedy routines.
15. She tries not to judge others. In an interview with O, The Oprah Magazine, Ellen said: “I am saddened by how people treat one another and how we are so shut off from one another and how we judge one another, when the truth is, we are all one connected thing. We are all from the same exact molecules.”
16. She came out on “Ellen.” Coming out can be a very difficult personal step — emphasis on the personal. We love that Ellen’s announcement was filled with humor and aired publicly on her sitcom. Despite the possibility of a backlash — which followed almost immediately — she chose not to hide.
17. She was named Showtime’s “Funniest Person in America” in 1982 — and is still making us laugh over 20 years later. Ellen has longevity in a notoriously difficult business.
18. Readers voted her 1997 TIME magazine cover one of the best ever.
19. She was the first female comedian invited to sit on the couch with Johnny Carson. Ellen appeared on “The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson” in 1986. She told Entertainment Weekly: “It was a big deal, because he’d only done that, at the time, with a few men in the history of the show.”
20. She hosted the Oscars in 2007, making her only the second women to M.C. the Academy Awards solo. Critics were divided on her performance, but Tom Shales of the Washington Post called it “a crisp and unpretentious job.”
21. She doesn’t think entertainers need to be sexualized. In 2004, she told TIME: “In a way, I think we’ve seen enough nudity. It’s getting to where we’re all numb, and in a way, I’m against (sigh) all the sexuality that’s all over the place.”
22. She won’t compromise herself in the name of success. She told Oprah: “I want people to like me — but not at my expense.”
23. She collects antique portraits, proving that you can be incredibly successful and famous and still not be entirely mainstream.
24. If she could be anonymous for a day, she would do totally normal things. Ellen told Good Housekeeping: “I like sitting at outdoor restaurants; it would be nice to go someplace on the street and not worry about somebody taking my picture while I’m about to take a bite of something.”
25. She became a CoverGirl in 2009, and was unapologetically herself in the campaign.
26. …and used that platform to grant a young girl’s wish. In September 2012, Ellen invited her long-time fan and teen cancer patient Tara Castellano to appear on her show. Ellen made Tara an honorary CoverGirl.
27. She describes her greatest achievements as “being able to do what I love, and being able to install a dimmer.” Awesome.
28. Her dramatic reading of “Fifty Shades Of Grey” still has us laughing. Do not eat the pancakes.
29. Her prom picture re-take. Ellen swapped awkward prom photos with Michelle Obama, then re-staged hers, totally owning her teen awkwardness.
30. Criticism about her appearance doesn’t faze her. In response to appearing on a worst-dressed list, Ellen said: “This business manipulates and screws up women’s — and men’s — views of what we’re all supposed to look like… My gender-bender style is apparently a bore.”
31. She’s full of energy — all the time. In 2006, Ellen told Redbook: “I’d like to be more patient! I just want everything now. I’ve tried to meditate, but it’s really hard for me to stay still. I’d like to try to force myself to do it, because everybody says how wonderful meditation is for you, but I can’t shut my mind up. So patience and learning is the key.”
32. In 2012, she won the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Ellen’s response to the news was typically hilarious: “It’s such an honor to receive the Mark Twain Prize. 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?”
33. She doesn’t let her critics get her down. She told Shape magazine: “When I came to Hollywood, my whole motivation was to be loved and appreciated, which is the stupidest thing in the world … You think, ‘If I’m famous, everyone will love me.’ The truth is, when you’re famous, some people will love you and some people will hate you for the exact same thing.”
34. Her wedding to Portia was pretty much the most beautiful thing we’ve ever seen. The pair married in 2008 at their home in L.A., after dating for four years. Ellen told People: What can I say? I’m the luckiest girl in the world.”
35. The video of Ellen and Portia going Christmas tree shopping, which makes us wish it was the holidays all the time.
36. She made Britney Spears go carol singing with her, which would have been amazing even without the pilgrim costumes.
37. Way back in 2011, Ellen was named one of Forbes’ Top 10 Celebrity Tweeters. She has over 16 million followers to date.
38. She believes in bravery. Ellen told Shape magazine: “I think I read somewhere that courage isn’t about doing something you’re not scared of. Courage is doing something in spite of the fact that you are scared of it.”
39. That ping pong table. We were blown away by a lot of things when Ellen and Portia opened up their home to Architectural Digest in 2011, but one of the most amazing things in their house — and the first thing guests saw upon entering — was undoubtedly the glass ping pong table made by Rirkrit Tiravanija.
40. Her rapping session with Rebel Wilson. On an October 2012 episode of “The Ellen Degeneres Show,” the two performed an outstanding rendition of “Shoop” by Salt-N-Pepa. Can we get that on iTunes?
41. She praised Kate McKinnon‘s impression of her on SNL. Not all celebrities are a fan of SNL skits based on them, but Ellen loved hers so much that she talked about it on her own show the next episode.
42. The way she introduced Portia on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” The pair appeared for their first interview as a married couple in November 2009. Ellen introduced her wife as “the smartest, kindest, most wonderful woman that you’ll ever, ever know.”
43. She invited Psy on her show to teach her and Britney how to dance “Gangnam Style.” After Britney tweeted that she wanted to learn the “Gangnam Style” moves, Ellen surprised her with a lesson by none other than Psy himself. We’re just sad that Simon Cowell wasn’t there to join the fun.
44. She says she doesn’t regret anything. In 2007, Ellen told Vanity Fair: “I don’t have any regrets or I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”
45. She started her own record label. Ellen launched eleveneleven in 2010, demonstrating once again that she’s not afraid to try something new.
46. She may or may not be related to Kate Middleton. In 2011, Ellen claims she received a letter from the New England Genealogical Society stating that she and the Duchess of Cambridge are 15th cousins. We’ll take it.
48. She hangs out with animals. As well as the aforementioned sloth, Ellen has invited an orangutan, an anaconda, and an owl to join her on set.
49. She refused to wear a dress for W magazine when she was featured on their cover in 2007. Ellen told interviewer Bridget Foley: “When I [first] thought about doing it, I thought, Okay, I’ll be open to this. I’ll play dress-up. Then I thought, I just don’t feel comfortable in it. I don’t want to apologize for who I am.”
This list wouldn’t be complete without some of our favorite moments from her TV show, including…
50. Testing out the Hawaii Chair.
52. Getting “the lowdown” on Justin Timberlake‘s underwear.
53. The time she sent Dennis Quaid to Starbucks.
54. Discovering young singers Sophia Grace and Rosie — and their rendition of “Super Bass.”
55. The time she drove a firetruck through Hollywood. Please let this woman have 55 more great years ahead.