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Ellen DeGeneres Receives Mark Twain Prize

Noel Vasquez/Getty Images for Extra(WASHINGTON) -- Ellen DeGeneres' career was celebrated Monday night at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., where she received the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor.  The award is presented to artists who have made a significant contribution to the world of American comedy.

On the same night the final presidential debate was held, DeGeneres made a reference to Republican nominee Mitt Romney's remark during the first debate that he would cut funding for PBS.

DeGeneres joked, "Thank you, PBS.  I'm so glad to be part of your final season."

PBS will air Ellen DeGeneres: The Kennedy Center Mark Twain Prize on Oct. 30.

DeGeneres was honored by celebrity peers including Jane Lynch and Sean Hayes, who both applauded her for coming out of the closet 15 years ago, and Jimmy Kimmel, who quipped, "Thanks to Ellen, vests aren't just for magicians anymore."

The 54-year-old DeGeneres rose to fame as a stand-up comedienne.  After starring in two sitcoms, she launched her popular daytime talk show.  The Ellen DeGeneres Show is now in its 10th season.

Previous recipients of the Mark Twain Prize include Richard Pryor, Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, George Carlin, Bill Cosby, Tina Fey and Will Ferrell.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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