Famous as the mother of actress and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, she is also notable for her activist work with PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and the Coming Out Project.
A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, she briefly attended Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
Following her daughter's public coming out, she penned two memoirs: Just a Mom and Love, Ellen: A Mother Daughter Journey.
She and her first husband, Elliott DeGeneres, welcomed actor son Vance DeGeneres in 1954 and future comedienne and television personality Ellen DeGeneres in 1958. Born Elizabeth Jane Pfeffer, Betty DeGeneres kept her first husband's surname after marrying her second husband Roy Gruessendorf.
In 2008, she became the mother-in-law of Portia de Rossi.