Ellen DeGeneres’ father, Elliott DeGeneres, has died at age 92.
On her show yesterday, the comedian told the audience that her father had passed away earlier in the week. “Before we go to break, there’s something else I want to talk about,” DeGeneres began. “I mentioned yesterday when I was talking about all the mudslides that are going on in my community of Montecito [in California], which is heartbreaking, I said that I had a lot going on in my life. In addition to what’s going on in Montecito, I lost my dad this week.” DeGeneres went on to say that Elliot, who was 92 years old, “lived his life exactly how he wanted.”
“He was very proud of me,” she told her audience, “He loved this show and he was a kind man, very accepting man. There was not one bone of judgment in his body.” She also shared that the former insurance salesman was “very funny,” and that she believes her and her brother Vance “got our sense of humor from him.” DeGeneres shared stories of her childhood with Elliot. “We only took one family vacation. When I was a little girl, we came to this lot, to the Warner Bros. lot, and took the tour and went around. And now, I work on the Warner Bros. lot and I have my own stage with my name on it. So he was really proud of that.”
Elliot is survived by ex-wife Betty DeGeneres, mother of Ellen. Ellen and Betty are still close, and Betty has appeared on many episodes of the Ellen DeGeneres show. Betty has also become a prominent LGBT rights activist after Ellen came out in 1997, working with the Human Rights Campaign’s National Coming Out Project and with Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG).
The most touching part of DeGeneres’ speech about her father came when she talked about the last time she saw him. Apparently, the family had been preparing for his death for a while, and Degeneres got a chance “to say goodbye to him.” Afterwards, she said that she was leaving the Warner Brothers’ studio when she saw a rainbow over it.
“This looks photoshopped,” she said, as she showed her audience a photo of the rainbow, but added, “This is what I saw after I talked to my dad and he died 10 minutes later after that. Pretty amazing.”
To Ellen, the rainbow was a symbol of her father’s pride in her and her life. In a tweet after the video was released, she wrote, “He loved this business. He loved that I was in it. When he died, I saw this rainbow over the stage they named for me.”