Ellen DeGeneres’ alleged nasty streak has deep roots, apparently.
Louisiana man Ben Gravolet claims DeGeneres’ cruel behavior goes all the way back to when she worked at his mother’s New Orleans recruitment agency in the late 1970s, Daily Mail reported on Thursday.
“She would criticize my weight,” Gravolet, now a 52-year-old father of three and vice president of a New Orleans marketing agency, told the UK tabloid. “I would try to do homework in the office, she’d call me stupid, she’d call me fat. She would criticize my clothes.”
“I would dread going to [my mom’s] office to see her after school or on a day if I was sick and Ellen was there,” he said.
“One incident stands out in my mind,” Gravolet continued. “I was sitting beside her desk. I was drawing, and she criticized the drawings. She said, ‘I guess that would look nice if you could draw.’
“As I watched her meteoric rise to fame, people would say how great she was and all I could think was she must be an incredible actor because she was one of the most vile people I’ve ever met in my life. Who takes pleasure in giving a child pain?”
The Mail also spoke to Gravolet’s mother, Tana Robinson, who described DeGeneres, now 62, as “extremely rude,” though she said she was unaware of the comedian’s treatment of her son until recently.
“I think I probably fired her,” Robinson, 72, who owned Snelling Personnel, told the paper. “Had I known that was going on, I’d have punched her and then fired her. A horrible person does that to an 11-year-old boy.”
DeGeneres was born in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie and moved back to New Orleans after graduating high school in Atlanta, Texas. She worked an assortment of odd jobs early in her career, though we couldn’t find any record of her discussing her time at Snelling.
The unraveling of DeGeneres’ daytime feel-good empire started in March with a Twitter thread from comedian Kevin T. Porter which collected stories from industry folks about the allegedly toxic environment behind the scenes at DeGeneres’ show. In July, dozens of former staffers claimed there was sexual misconduct, harassment and assault from top execs on the show and DeGeneres issued a tearful apology, though it hasn’t prevented ratings for her show from going into a free-fall in the interim.
A rep for DeGeneres declined to comment.
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