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A Louisiana man says daytime talker Ellen DeGeneres verbally abused him when he was a boy by making fun of his weight and clothes, calling him “fat” and “stupid.”
In an interview with DailyMailTV, Ben Gravolet, 52, said during the late 1970s, DeGeneres worked for his mother’s recruitment agency when he was just 11 and she was around 20 years old.
“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,” Gravolet told the news outlet, adding that DeGeneres was allegedly verbally abusive.
“She would criticize my weight. I would try to do homework in the office, she’d call me stupid, she’d call me fat. She would criticize my clothes,” he said.
“I was just a boy and this was a grown woman who took pleasure in seeing me become visibly upset,” he continued. “I don’t think there’s any excuse for it. I was a defenseless kid. What could I have told her back?”
“It has an effect if somebody in a superior position to you, who’s much older, goes ‘You’re fat. You might want to lose some of that weight chunky boy’” the Belle Chasse, La. resident noted further. “I was always self-conscious about my weight and it made things worse.”
Gravolet said that DeGeneres worked as a recruiter in the lakeside New Orleans branch of Snelling Personnel, which his mother owned.
Now the vice president of a New Orleans marketing agency, Gravolet described DeGeneres at the time as being “just the meanest, nastiest, most horrible person.”
He told the Daily Mail that one incident, in particular, has remained with him.
“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,’” he said.
“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,” Gravolet continued. “Who takes pleasure in giving a child pain?”
The accusations are the latest in a string of charges against the popular daytime talk host that challenges her on-screen personality of being someone who appears caring, funny, and pleasant.
In April, reports surfaced that DeGeneres had a reputation for treating show staff and guests unkindly.
Right now we all need a little kindness. You know, like Ellen Degeneres always talks about! 😊❤️
She’s also notoriously one of the meanest people alive
Respond to this with the most insane stories you’ve heard about Ellen being mean & I’ll match every one w/ $2 to @LAFoodBank
— Kevin T. Porter (@KevinTPorter) March 20, 2020
Those allegations exploded over the summer, however, ensnaring the host and triggering an apology in late July as well as rumors she may leave her show.
“She feels she can’t go on and the only way to recover her personal brand from this is to shut down the show,” one source told the Daily Mail in a separate report, adding that DeGeneres has been in discussions with top executives from Warner Bros. and Telepictures, the company that produces her show.
DeGeneres addressed staffers in an apology memo earlier this month.
“On day one of our show, I told everyone in our first meeting that ‘The Ellen DeGeneres Show’ would be a place of happiness – no one would ever raise their voice, and everyone would be treated with respect,” she wrote.
“Obviously, something changed, and I am disappointed to learn that this has not been the case. And for that, I am sorry. Anyone who knows me knows it’s the opposite of what I believe and what I hoped for our show.”
But the apology fell flat.
“Don’t think for a minute anything she has said in that apology means anything. She created and then enabled this toxic culture to go on for so long,” another source linked to the show told the Daily Mail.
Other stars backed up allegations that DeGeneres doesn’t treat people well.
“Sorry, but it comes from the top @TheEllenShow Know more than one who were treated horribly by her. Common knowledge,” wrote “Everybody Loves Raymond” star Brad Garrett.
Also, actress Lea Thompson, 59, who starred in the “Back to the Future” series, corroborated Garrett’s claim.
True story. It is.
— Lea Thompson (@LeaKThompson) July 31, 2020
For his part, Gravolet told the Daily Mail he believes DeGeneres, even at a younger age, loved lording over people.
“It appears to me that she hoards power over those that are lesser than her. It’s almost as if she has to feel controlling. It seems like she has to be superior, be better,” he said.
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