100 Women We Love: Class of 2006

Ellen DeGeneres
When DeGeneres (and her character Ellen Morgan) came out as a lesbian on her sitcom, Ellen, in April 1997, she made history as TV’s first openly gay lead character. Instead of fading quietly into the annals of TV history after the show’s cancellation, or becoming a punch line when her split with “call me crazy” Anne Heche hit the tabloids, DeGeneres shot back to the top with her sensitive hosting of the post-9/11 Emmy Awards. Now DeGeneres hosts one of the country’s top TV talk shows, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, and continues to prove that being out, loud and proud can co-exist with success beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.