Ellen DeGeneres’ birthday episode was the show’s most-watched episode in three years, featuring guests Michelle Obama, Sofia Vergara, Jimmy Kimmel, Jamie Foxx, and Chance the Rapper. But it was Portia’s appearance on the show that really made people’s hearts melt.
Ellen hadn’t been told that Portia was coming on beforehand, and was surprised to see her wife onstage. “It’s your 60th birthday, and this gift had to be really special,” Portia told her wife. “It had to represent who you are and what you really care about – not just now, but what you’ve always cared about. What you were influenced by and what has made you the amazing person you are today.”
“So I combined that and questions [from] when we first met, like ‘Who’s your idol?’ and ‘What would you do if you weren’t a talk show host?’” She added: “Literally, guys, 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.” DeRossi then played a prerecorded birthday message that mentioned gorilla researcher Dian Fossey, one of Ellen’s greatest heroes. Before she was murdered in 1995, Fossey founded the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda for mountain gorilla conservation, and the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund continues her mission to this day.
After the video, DeRossi said, “For your birthday, Ellen, I am bringing you and your hero Dian together by building the Ellen DeGeneres Campus of the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund,” she said.“Ellen will carry on Dian’s legacy by giving them a permanent home in Rwanda. Now, you will join Dian as a protector and champion of these amazing animals, the mountain gorillas. Happy birthday.”
The campus is just part of the new Ellen DeGeneres Wildlife Fund, a foundation focussed on protecting the world’s most vulnerable and endangered animals. And Ellen was delighted by the gift, tearing up onstage.
“It’s the best gift,” she told her audience. “When we got married, Portia’s line was: ‘It’s good to be loved. It’s profound to be understood.’ And she understands me because that is the best gift that anybody could have given me.”
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