Talk show titan and actress Oprah Winfrey suffered a serious backlash from Tv viewers after portraying the therapist gay comedienne Ellen Degeneres' sitcom character 'came out' to in 1997.

The funnywoman made her sexuality known during an interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show in the mid-1990s, and DeGeneres followed up the public confession by making her title character on hit comedy Ellen 'come out' on air too.

However, The Puppy Episode, which featured scenes with DeGeneres' onscreen persona discussing her lesbian love life with her counsellor, played by Winfrey, prompted a flurry of hate mail that the media mogul had never experienced before.

Discussing the incident on a special episode of her Tv show Oprah's Next Chapter, which aired in America on Sunday (27Oct13), the African-American superstar revealed, "I played the therapist on that show... and got the most and worst hate mail of my entire career after doing it, like 'Go back to Africa' hate mail."

Ellen became the first series in Tv history in which the main character was openly gay, and fellow lesbian comedienne Wanda Sykes has credited DeGeneres' brave move with paving the way for future actors to also embrace their sexuality on air.

She says, "I give it to Ellen, I really do... Ellen jumped on the grenade."