(CNN) – Ellen DeGeneres bid a tearful farewell to her daytime talk show on Thursday, saying that the show had “forever changed my life.”
DeGeneres opened the last hour of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” by discussing the progress that had been made since the series premiered in 2003, noting that she “couldn’t say ‘gay’ on the show” when it started or make a reference to her wife, Portia de Rossi, because gay marriage wasn’t legal.
“Now I say ‘wife’ all the time,” she said.
Noting that there was resistance to the show and that few gave it a chance of surviving, DeGeneres promised that she wouldn’t be gone for long. “Today is not the end of a relationship, it’s more of a little break,” she said. “You can see other talk shows now.”
The program incorporated clips from DeGeneres’ 3,200 episodes, including her tearfully thanking the audience after taping her first episode, as well as other highlights of her career, such as hosting the Oscars and receiving the Mark Twain Prize and Presidential Medal of Freedom.
DeGeneres’ guests included Jennifer Aniston, who was her first guest when the series made its debut. Aniston gave her a welcome mat that read “Thanks for the memories.” The final week included a visit from Oprah Winfrey, who spoke about the familial aspect of a long-running show.
Other guests were Billie Eilish and Pink. “You help people find their joy,” said Pink, who also performed.
DeGeneres thanked her staff and producers, as well as her loyal audience. “If I’ve done anything in the past 19 years, I hope I’ve inspired you to be yourself — your true, authentic self,” said the comic, who came out on her ABC sitcom, “Ellen,” in 1997.
There was no mention in the final episode of any of the controversy that has arisen in regard to the show in recent years, including reports of a toxic culture that prompted DeGeneres to issue an apology to her staff in 2020.
“The Ellen DeGeneres Show” is distributed by Warner Bros. Television, which, like CNN, is a unit of Warner Bros. Discovery.
“The Kelly Clarkson Show” will move into DeGeneres’ time slot on the NBC-owned stations that carry the program, including New York, Los Angeles and Chicago, the three largest TV markets in the US.
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