Pop Culture

Liza Minnelli's real reaction to Ellen's Oscar joke: 'Ouch!'

Liza Minnelli was the subject of Ellen DeGeneres' only true Oscar-night barb, and now the actress, singer and all-round entertainer admits that barb stung.

"Hello to the best Liza Minnelli impersonator I've ever seen," DeGeneres said as she looked out into the crowd at the Dolby Theater that night. "Good job, sir."

At the time, Minnelli was all smiles in the face of the joke, but during a Wednesday morning visit to TODAY, she shared her real reaction.

"I was really fine until she said 'sir,' and then I thought, 'Ouch! Ouch' a little," she confessed. "But I looked at my sister (actress Lorna Luft) and she was laughing. I thought, 'Well, they just didn't give her the rest of the cue card.' No. ... I know Ellen, she would have said, 'Ladies and gentlemen, my friend, Liza.' I guess it wasn't supposed to be like that."

That wasn't the only disappointing moment for Minnelli on Oscar night. Just a short while later, a group of celebrities who had been seated near her gathered for what became the record-breaking selfie seen 'round the world. But Minnelli? She didn't even make it in the shot.



"They all came running down there, 95 miles an hour," she said of the other stars. "Somebody yelled at me, 'Get up!' I thought, 'Whoa!' So I got up."



When faced with a wall of backs rather than a camera, she reconsidered.

"I turned around and sat down again," she recalled.

TODAY's Kathie Lee Gifford offered her some advice for similar situations in the future.

"You need to just knock somebody out of the way," she said.

But Minnelli didn't let any of that get her down for long. Looking back on the night as a whole, she "had a wonderful time."

In addition to walking down Oscars memory lane on Wednesday, the stage and screen legend also celebrated her 68th birthday. Oscar-winner Jared Leto recorded a birthday greeting for her (which she deemed "swell"), and Gifford and Hoda Kotb presented her with a cake.

"We're not allowed to sing ('Happy Birthday') or else we'd have to pay," Gifford joked. "We're also not allowed to have candles because of the fire department. It's a wonder we could even get a cake."

But Minnelli loved the unlit treat all the same and wished herself a happy birthday.