“I got you,”
A touching exchange between two beloved stars capped off last night’s Oscars ceremony ahead of the night’s top gong for best picture.
As Lady Gaga and Liza Minelli (both Oscar winners themselves) took to the stage to a standing ovation, the applauding audience of Hollywood names showed particular adulation for Minelli, who at the age of 75 is now wheelchair bound.
Minelli took part in presenting the Best Picture Oscar; she appeared to lose track of her cue cards and became somewhat flustered, at which point Gaga leant over the star to whisper “I got you,” in her ear.
The septuagenarian, who this year celebrated the 50th anniversary of her cult film ‘Cabaret,’ replied with a tear-jerking “I know.”
Despite appearing slightly unsettled on stage, Minelli hasn’t lost her quintessential pizzazz and squeezed in a few of her signature throaty chuckles for the crowd.
Is Liza Minelli ill?
The exact cause of Minelli’s current ill-health is unknown but the celebrated Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony (EGOT) award winner has a well-documented history of ailments.
In 2000 Minelli was told she would never talk or walk again after contracting viral encephalitis, only to two years later perform her show ‘Liza’s Back’ in New York.
Following her recovery Minelli also reportedly did her own stunts when appearing as the vertigo-suffering Lucille 2 in ‘Arrested Development’.
In 2010 Minelli received a diagnosis of bronchial pneumonia which led to cancelled tour dates, disappointing fans.
The actress has also had two hip replacements and a knee operation, joking to Saga in 2013 that she is "Dorothy's daughter up top and the Tin Man down below".
The exchange has predictably elicited an outpouring on Twitter with some accusing the Academy of exploiting a vulnerable person and others praising the representation of disabled and the elderly.
While Oscars night is typically an occasion to bring out silver-haired older stars, Minelli’s visible frailty is in sharp contrast to the usual fair of chic displays such as when Gaga sang with Julie Andrews in 2015 or when Olivia de Havilland swept on stage in 2003.
Time for a Liza reassessment?
Minelli has long been a figure of fun in the press due to her string of marriages and spells of addiction, her struggles echoing tragedies in the life of her mother, Judy Garland. It was certainly an poignant moment to see Lady Gaga, who was Oscar nominated for her reprisal of Garland’s redemptive role in ‘A Star is Born,’ supporting the ‘Wizard of Oz’ star’s daughter.
However, in an age of redemptive arcs of older (and younger) female stars, could the outpouring of emotion for Minelli last night be the start of a reassessment of her treatment in public life?
Last year Justin Timberlake apologised to Janet Jackson for his behaviour at the 2004 Super Bowl which reportedly ruined her career, meanwhile Britney Spears has had a long and public legal battle which in throwing a spotlight on her illness has rehabilitated her reputation.
Could this tender moment between two stars prompt a similar story for Liza? Stay tuned.