Liza Minnelli ‘forced’ on stage in wheelchair at Oscars, claims friend: ‘She was sabotaged’

Lady Gaga appears alongside Liza Minnelli at the Oscars

Liza Minnelli was “sabotaged” at the Oscars after she was “forced” to appear in a wheelchair against her wishes, a long-time collaborator claimed. 

Michael Feinstein – a singer, pianist and friend of Minnelli – accused the award ceremony’s bosses of ignoring Minnelli’s requests by making her use a wheelchair just moments before she was due onstage with Lady Gaga in an interview with SiriusXM’s The Jess Cagle Show.

“She was sabotaged,” Feinstein said. “That’s a terrible word to use, but she only agreed to appear on the Oscars if she would be in a director’s chair because she’s been having back trouble.”

Feinstein, who was with Minnelli at the time, explained that the Cabaret star was concerned with her appearance at the Oscars as she didn’t want people to see her “limping out there” and didn’t want fans to “worry” about her. 

Minnelli presented the Best Picture prize alongside Lady Gaga, with the “Applause” singer winning high praise for how supportive she was towards Minnelli. At one point in their presentation, Minnelli seemingly fumbled with her notes, and Gaga reassured her that she “got it” as she helped take over. 

Feinstein claimed that plans to have Liza Minnelli appear in a director’s chair had been changed “literally five minutes before she went” onstage. The pianist alleged that the alteration was prompted because the Oscars’ bosses were “shaken up” after “everything that happened earlier” when Will Smith hit Chris Rock

“The stage manager said, ‘Well, she has to be in a wheelchair’, and Liza pleaded,” Feinstein said. “She said, ‘No, I will not be seen in a wheelchair in front of everybody. I will not do this. I refused to do this.’”

Feinstein claimed the stage manager told the musical theatre icon that it was “either that or nothing”, and Minnelli eventually agreed to appear in the wheelchair. 

“She was so shaken that she was discombobulated,” Feinstein said. “She was nervous and it made her look like she was out of it.”

Feinstein assured fans that there is no concern for Minnelli’s health as she is “really doing well” despite being “very disappointed” with what happened at the Oscars.

Liza Minnelli has suffered serious health issues in the past and was told in 2000 that she might not walk or talk again after surviving from encephalitis, a potentially fatal brain infection. She thankfully made a full recovery and continued to work after the terrifying infection. 

PinkNews has contacted representatives for Minnelli and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for comment.