Source: Instagram/joannadegeneres
Source: Instagram/joannadegeneres

Ellen DeGeneres' older brother Vance Was in the Marine Corps

Odette Odendaal
May 27, 2019
03:48 P.M.

The last name “DeGeneres” usually makes one think of Ellen and her talk show, while her brother Vance, reached his own success within the entertainment industry. During a time when Ellen toyed with the idea of leaving showbiz, Vance showed being persuasive to be more of a family trait than skill as he convinced her to stay on her daytime talk show.


As a brother with many years of on-camera experience and as an executive producer for Inside Comedy, Vance urged Ellen not to quit “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” after she made the startling revelation during an interview with The New York Times in 2018.


Ellen’s wife, Portia de Rossi made a good point that leaving the show as a host would free up time for Ellen as “there are other things she could tackle.” But Vance convinced Ellen to continue as host, even if it's just for the time being.

Although they both seem very similar, Ellen and Vance had very different upbringings. With both siblings born in New Orleans, but when their parents split in 1974, so did they. Ellen moved with her mother and stepfather, Roy Gruessendorf to Atlanta in Texas while Vance, 20 years old at the time, opted to stay in New Orleans.


In duty to his country, Vance spent the following two years in the Marine Corp where he rose to the rank of corporal. Then he returned to New Orleans for what would be the start of a successful career in entertainment.

In late 1979, a band wherein Vance played the bass guitar, “The Cold” made their debut. In less than a year they became a sensation during the New Wave era in New Orleans. Songs like “You,” “Three Chord City,” and “Mesmerized,” had fans follow them to Florida, Mississippi, and Texas.


During the peak of their success in the early 1980s, the band played 150 dates a year and got known as the band that defined the New Wave era in New Orleans. In 2018 the band’s influence got honored with an induction into the Louisiana Hall of Fame.

Vance married his first wife, Mimi in 1990 but they divorced a year later. Love knocked on his door again when he met Joanna Brooks, whom he married during a small intimate ceremony at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in California in 2013.


His accomplishments as actor and producer are perhaps his most notable. His career took off when he worked as an executive producer on “Crazy, Stupid, Love” and “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone.”

With appearances in short films including “Oh Noooooo! It’s Mr. Bill’s 20th Anniversary,” and “Mr. Hands” Vance also starred in the television series, “The Rat.”

Apart from screenwriting experience on his sister’s show and the series, “The Rat,” Vance also received credits for writing special material for the Academy, Grammy, and Emmy Awards.

For a total of 137 episodes, Vance appeared as a correspondent on “The Daily Show.” The only show that could even remotely match the longevity of his sister’s talk show.


Even though Ellen’s sitcom, “Ellen” got canceled by ABC after she came out as gay in 1997, she became a massive star and also featured on the cover of Time with a big headline the read, “Yep, I’m Gay.” Her talk show soon followed, and have gone from strength to strength since.

While Vance convinced Ellen not to give up hosting her show just yet, Ellen had returned to stand up comedy for the first time in 15 years. During an interview in May 2019, Ellen DeGeneres explained how she would know when the time came to retire and when to let go of her talk show.

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