US actor Johnathon Schaech confirms he acted as lovable TV host Ellen DeGeneres' beard in the mid-nineties.
In a Reddit Ask Me Anything
session, the actor clarified a fan's speculation about pictures of the pair attending several events together before DeGeneres came out publicly.
"My manager asked me to accompany her to events" explained Schaech. "She was scared people would not watch the show, Her sitcom Ellen
, because she was gay."
He added: "It was an honor. I grew up with two gay aunts and a gay uncle."
Ellen DeGeneres came out publicly as a lesbian in a high profile interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show
in February 1997. Her character in popular sitcom Ellen
followed suit in April that year, but the decision was met with criticism and the show was subsequently cancelled after one more season.
Her career temporarily suffered as a result, before being revived in 2003 with the launch of The Ellen Show
which has gone on to become one of the most-watched daytime shows in America.
Schaech, who has appeared in films such as That Thing You Do
, confirmed that he was originally cast in Ellen
's coming out episode, but that he was not in good physical condition perform on the day of filming.
Describing the experience of acting as DeGeneres' beard, he said: "When you have someone you love in your life that is gay or a lesbian it’s very clear that they deserve the same rights as anyone else... [Ellen]’s a great example for the human race."
Words: Georgios Hadjimichael
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