Twenty-five years after the premiere of Rosie O'Donnell's daytime talk show, the comedian and actress reflected on some of the show's most iconic moments — including a 1996 interview with Ellen DeGeneres in which they previewed the sitcom star's upcoming season and talked about what would become DeGeneres' famous "coming out" episode.
O'Donnell recalls how at the time, she thought DeGeneres' brave move was a mistake. "I just thought this is going to ruin her career and ruin her life," she told PEOPLE during this week's episode of PEOPLE in the 90s.
DeGeneres told PEOPLE back in 2017 that the groundbreaking episode was called "The Puppy Episode" because "we wanted to keep it a secret until it aired and because 'Ellen Throws Her Career Away' seemed too on the nose." Although the episode wouldn't air for another year, DeGeneres (at the time) teased what fans could expect when she visited O'Donnell's show, joking that one of the things we find out is that her character is Lebanese.
"There have been clues. I mean, you've seen her eating baba ghanoush, if you've watched the show at all, and hummus, and [she's] a big, big fan of Casey Kasem," she slyly told O'Donnell.
The host — who had not yet come out as gay herself — played along with DeGeneres, responding ,"Hey, wait a minute. I'm a big fan of Casey Kasem. Maybe I'm Lebanese!"
"I think she was very brave to do what she did back then," said O'Donnell, reflecting on that moment. "And I think that I was kind of brave in my own way to stand next to her and say, 'Oh yeah, I think I'm a Lebanese too.'"
In PEOPLE's interview, O'Donnell also addressed rumors of her talk show being resurrected — perhaps thanks to the fact that she's been sharing old clips on TikTok. But as much as she would love to revisit those orange chairs, she's also hesitant.
"I feel like for me, it was really of a time. The time to start a new show for TV now with the social delivery platforms that they have is not a 60-year-old woman," she said. "You have to be younger and have the fight in you and be on the cutting edge. So I don't think that I would do it again."
Never say never, though — O'Donnell did tease she wouldn't exactly rule a return out completely, adding, "My career has been so unpredictable that you never know what will happen."