Ellen DeGeneres is returning to host the 85th Oscars, producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron announced Friday morning. After taking a look back at her previous award show hosting gigs and appearances, the question is not why they chose her, but why she wasn't chosen to return sooner?
The Emmy-winning former sitcom star and daytime talk show host has delivered time and time again. She began her career comeback in 2001 after hosting what could have been a very somber post-9/11 Emmy Awards ceremony, made audiences feel good about laughing during the 2005 Emmys in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and earned rave reviews after hosting the 2007 Academy Awards.
Here are five favorite moments from DeGeneres' hosting history:
Ellen DeGeneres cracks up the star-studded audience during an appreciative monologue to open the 79th Annual Academy Awards. "Most people dream of actually winning an Academy Award, I had a dream about actually hosting the Academy Awards," DeGeneneres said. "So let that be a lesson to you kids out there. Aim lower."
After a commercial break, DeGeneres achieves another lifelong dream: Meeting Clint Eastwood. To commemorate the moment, she asks Steven Spielberg to take a picture of them. Despite his Best Director Oscar, she directs him how to properly take a simple photograph.
With the 2001 Emmy Awards cancelled and rescheduled twice after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, DeGeneres had a lot of pressure on her shoulders to make her first primetime hosting gig funny, without being insensitive or offensive. By acknowledging the tragedy, subsequent cancellations and the World Series airing in the same time slot as the award show, DeGeneres had the audience rolling in laughter. She knocked it out of the park and got a standing ovation when she joked: "I feel like I'm in a unique position as host, because think about it — what would bug the Taliban more than seeing a gay woman in a suit surrounded by Jews?"
With yet another tragedy in tow, DeGeneres returned to host the 2005 Emmy Award ceremony and managed to recognize the victims of Hurricane Katrina while still making the audience feel good about enjoying themselves.
"New Orleans is my hometown and I have family in Mississippi; our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone affected. I guess I don't have to point out that this is the second time that I've hosted the Emmys after a national tragedy and I just want to say that I'm honored. Because it's times like this that we really, really need laughter," DeGeneres said. "And be sure to look for me next month when I host the North Korean People's Choice Awards."
Before DeGeneres hosted the Emmys, she was winning them. In 1997, she accepted the award on behalf of her sitcom, "Ellen," for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series for "The Puppy Episode," which made history because Ellen's character was the first television character to ever come out as a lesbian.
"I accept this on behalf of all of the people — and the teenagers, especially — out there who think there is something wrong with them because they're gay," DeGeneres, who also came out of the closet when the show aired, said during her acceptance speech. "And there's nothing wrong with you, don't ever let anybody make you feel ashamed of who you are."