Liza Minnelli was subjected to sitting in a wheelchair following a case of viral encephalitis, and even though doctors predicted that she would remain there for the rest of her life, she seems to have bounced back on her feet.
An award-winning singer, actress, and dancer, Liza Minnelli is one of the biggest names in Hollywood. She is one of those who have been decorated with prestigious awards like an Emmy, Grammy (Grammy Legend Award), Oscar, and Tony (EGOT). Still, in 2000, her flourishing career took a big punch when she was diagnosed with viral encephalitis, a disease that inflames the brain parenchyma, causing seizures and paralysis.
What Disease is Liza Minnelli Suffering From?
Liza Minnelli is suffering from a disease known as viral encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain caused by a virus. The virus can be spread by a kind of mosquito, ticks, and other insects that serves as a carrier, but it has not been established how the singer caught the disease in the first place. Other causes of viral encephalitis are herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2, varicella-zoster virus, and enteroviruses.
A severe case of viral encephalitis, which she suffered from, is liable to cause brain damage and lead to permanent paralysis. As such, recovery takes longer and can be a painful journey. Also, getting full recovery is hard to achieve, but Liza has amazed even her doctors with her improvement.
Dr. Maurice Hanson told Reuters. “She is being treated for viral encephalitis. She was quite sick and was in very serious condition but is now recovering well and we expect to release her in a few days.”
She was diagnosed with the deadly disease in October 2000 at Fort Lauderdale hospital, and doctors told her that she would likely use a wheelchair for the rest of her life and possibly lose her ability to speak. On the contrary, she was able to recover after taking daily dance and vocal lessons with experts like Sam Harris, Luigi Faccuito, and Ron Lewis.
Before her viral encephalitis diagnosis, Liza Minnelli was in and out of the hospital for other health challenges like hip and back pains. She was scheduled for hip surgery and even suffered what looked like a stroke.
Speaking to Dateline NBC about her condition, Liza said – “I couldn’t walk, and I couldn’t talk, and they told me I wouldn’t… ever again”. However, two years afterward, she performed her show Liza’s Back in New York City.
Why Did Liza Minnelli Attend The Academy Awards in a Wheelchair?
At the 2022 Oscar Awards ceremony, Liza Minnelli appeared in a wheelchair. While everyone may think it’s normal, given her previous health challenges, her longtime collaborator Michael Feinstein begs to differ.
According to Michael Feinstein, a singer, and pianist, Minnelli was in a wheelchair that day against her wishes. She initially agreed to appear on stage at the Oscars if she would use a director’s chair instead of limping in her usual manner since her recovery process began. It was agreed, but at the last minute, the singer was informed that she would be using a wheelchair instead of a director’s chair, and by then, it was kind of late to decline.
Minnelli didn’t want people to worry about her when they saw her limping, so she opted for a director’s chair. However, she got a wheelchair instead. The singer presented the best picture award alongside Lady Gaga at the event. The sudden change of plans for Minnelli was allegedly linked to the disruption caused earlier when Will Smith slapped Chris Rock.
Overall, the last-minute decision to have her wheel onto the stage in a wheelchair was very disappointing for Minnelli, who didn’t want people to see her that way. She always wants to look good.