'I don’t trust her.' Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O’Donnell's complex relationship spans decades.

Ellen DeGeneres and Rosie O’Donnell are two comedy titans who came of age at a time when their sexuality wasn't always accepted.

Both Rosie and Ellen rose to fame in the early '80s doing stand-up comedy. Their careers went in different directions as Rosie pursued iconic films, A League of Their Own and Now and Then, while Portia de Rossi's longtime wife landed the sitcom Ellen

The women ended up hosting their own daytime talk shows with The Ellen Show beginning in 2003 and wrapping in 2022 and The Rosie O'Donnell Show airing from 1996 to 2002, along with a short-lived revival in 2011. 

Despite all the commonalities between these women, Ellen and Rosie have been in a feud for years. In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Rosie opened up about their friendship over the years and why it ended. 

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"It was a good relationship. We were friends. We supported each other," she said. "She came out first on my show [The Rosie O'Donell Show], remember? She came on and my show was live." 

During the 1996 interview, before Ellen had officially come out on her sitcom, the comedian joked about identifying as 'Lebanese'.

"Then the episode aired, Time [magazine] ran its 'Yep, I’m Gay' cover and everybody was asking me, 'What do you think about Ellen?' It became a strange, 'There can’t be two lesbians in this town,' kind of a thing. Then we each had success and went separate ways."


But before their careers moved in different directions, Rosie maintains that she spent loads of time with Ellen. "I had known her for years doing stand-up and as young entertainers in Hollywood. Me, Melissa [Etheridge], K.D [Lang] and Ellen, we all would go to parties together," she told THR. 

So what changed? 

The vibe shifted after an interview Ellen did on Larry King Live aired in 2004. "Larry King said, 'Whatever happened to Rosie O’Donnell’s show? She went down the tubes as soon as she came out.' And the quote that Ellen said was, 'I don’t know Rosie. We’re not friends.' I was watching TV in bed with my wife going, 'Did she just say that?'"

Pictured: Ellen 'not knowing' Rosie. Image: Getty. 


Almost 10 years later, this comment has stuck in Rosie's mind. "It would never occur to me to say 'I don’t know her' about somebody whose babies I held when they were born. It wouldn’t be in my lexicon of choices to ever say. When she was in a perplexing situation and people were saying things about her, I said, 'Let me stand next to you and say that I’m Lebanese, too.' When it was a downward media time for me, she didn’t do anything."

Looking back at the Larry King Live transcript, the exact quote Ellen said was: "I don't really know Rosie that well. I mean, I've spoken to her, but we're not really friends."  

This rift had wider effects, as Rosie went on to suggest that Ellen copied her talk show. "She used the same staff from my show... it was very similar to my show. And then I asked to go on because of something I was promoting, and she said no. And I remember going, 'Seriously.' After she said no that one time, whenever they would ask [me to appear] on the show, I would say no."

Back in 2022, Rosie appeared on Watch What Happens Live and relayed the story of Ellen's snub. "It hurt my feelings like a baby and I never really got over it," she told Andy Cohen. 

Watch the moment below. Post continues after the video.


Video via Entertainment Tonight.

Thankfully for the former friends, they seem to be on speaking terms again. "She texted me a few weeks ago checking in, seeing how I’m doing, and I asked her how she’s surviving not being on TV. It’s a big transition. But we’ve had our weirdness in our relationship. I don’t know if it’s jealousy, competition or the fact that she said a mean thing about me once that really hurt my feelings."

Rosie brought up the infamous Larry King moment and Ellen finally apologised via text. "She wrote, 'I’m really sorry and I don’t remember that.' I guess she saw me talk about it on Andy Cohen’s show," she said.

"I remembered it so well, I had T-shirts printed and I gave them to my staff that said 'I don’t know Rosie. We’re not friends.' I have a picture of her holding [my then-infant son] Parker. I know her mother. I could identify her brother without her in the room. I knew her for so many years. It just felt like I don’t trust this person to be in my world."

Ellen has never publicly addressed any of the comments made by Rosie. 

Feature image: Getty + Mamamia.