Wendy Williams Apologizes After Mocking Joaquin Phoenix’s "Cleft Palate" Scar

Wendy Williams apologized to Joaquin Phoenix following backlash for mocking the Joker star's "cleft palate" scar.

By emily belfiore Jan 16, 2020 12:08 PMTags

Wendy Williams is under fire for mocking Joaquin Phoenix.

On Tuesday, The Wendy Williams Show host made an insensitive comment about a scar the Joker actor has above his lip during the "Hot Topics" segment of her show. "When he shaves off his mustache, he's got a hairline fracture, he's got one of those — what do you call it? Cleft lip, cleft palate," she told the audience, pulling her lip up to further mock the condition.

While Phoenix has never publicly addressed the origin of his scar, the Golden Globe winner did describe it as "not a surgically fixed cleft" but a "nonsurgical scar he was born with" in a 2019 interview with Vanity Fair.

Shortly after the show, the controversial star received backlash from upset viewers. Among them was Cher, who has been an ally for the cleft palate community. "THESE ARE THE PPL @WendyWilliams IS MAKING FUN OF," she tweeted, replying to a tweet that featured images of the "Believe" singer meeting with cleft palette sufferers.

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She continued, "Joaquin Phoenix was a Child,& We Don't Know What He Had To Go Through. HE IS ONE OF THE GREAT ACTORS OF OUR TIME,MAGNETIC,& MORE THAN HANDSOME!! SHE WILL BE JUDGED FOR THIS FOREVER."

Her comments also caught the attention of Canadian football player Adam Bighill, whose baby boy Beau just underwent cleft palate repair surgery, and said her comment "clearly promotes bullying."

Williams then issued an apology. "We're thinking about Beau today as he is in surgery," she wrote on Twitter. "I want to apologize to the cleft community and in Beau's honor, our show is donating to @operationsmile and @AmerCleftPalate and encourage our Wendy Watchers to learn more and help support the cleft community."

But, it's safe to say that Cher wasn't pleased with the daytime host's apology. "THERE IS NO APOLOGY FOR WHAT SHE DID…& LAUGHED ABOUT !!" she tweeted. "I KNOW THESE CHILDREN,& ADULTS.THEY GO THROUGH HELL,THEIR PARENTS GO THROUGH HELL !! Fk Her Apology. SHE WANTS TO KEEP HER JOB !! I CANT CONTAIN MY ANGER !!"

In another tweet, Cher posted a side-by-side picture of Williams mocking those with cleft palates and Phoenix, writing, "DOES AN APOLOGY MAKE UP FOR THIS."

Bighill, however, was quick to forgive Williams. "Thank you @WendyWilliams for your apology, your donation, and for thinking of Beau today for his surgery," he responded. "I forgive you, and I encourage others to as well. I wish you all the best."