Thousands sign petition to get Wendy Williams fired for imitating cleft lip

While she intended her remarks as a compliment, many took offense including pop icon Cher and want her off the air

Wendy Williams
Television host Wendy Williams attends the Vulture Festival May 19, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images for Vulture Festival)

Wendy Williams has apologized to the cleft community and donated to Operation Smile and American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association after more than 42,000 people signed a petition to get her fired after she used her finger to imitate someone with a cleft lip.

On the “Hot Topics” section of Jan. 7th The Wendy Williams Show, Williams was talking about how she found actor Joaquin Phoenix “oddly attractive” and liked his facial scar.

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“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,” Williams said as she used her finger to pull up her upper lip on her show, “I find that to be very attractive.”

Since the episode aired, people have blasted Williams on Twitter, including Cher.

One outraged viewer, Corey Perry, even started a petition on to get Williams removed and has so far collected more than 42,000 signatures as of Friday morning. Perry wrote he started it for his friends who have a son with a bilateral cleft lip, hard and soft palate.

“So this ignorant piece of work decided to mock Joaquin Phoenix and his ‘hare lip, cleft lip palate’ on daytime television and even went as far as pulling her upper lip with her finger, she is a total disgrace,” Perry wrote on the petition. “Kids can be cruel and as a mother of an amazing little guy who was born with complete bilateral cleft lip, hard and soft palate, I am completely disgusted that she thinks it’s ok to ridicule and make a joke out of something that is completely out of our control.”

“The hours spent worrying about the hard times ahead for him, all the days spent in the hospital and the numerous surgeries he had to go through, the blood, the pain, the day to day activities that he had to miss because of feeding tubes that he needed to be able to get liquids to his stomach instead of his lungs (complications brought on by the hard and soft cleft palate called silent aspiration). His little lungs so scared up From lung infections due to this silent aspiration. And that is only a few of the complications that can come with a cleft,” Perry wrote.

“What I am saying is that she is a disgusting human being and in my opinion, if Don Cherry got fired for saying ‘you people’ than she should be banned from daytime TV,” Perry added.

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Wendy apologized and shared that her show will be donating to the cleft lip and cleft palate nonprofits Operation Smile and American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association.

“@Bighill44 We’re thinking about Beau today as he is in surgery. I want to apologize to the cleft community and in Beau’s honor, our show is donating to @operationsmile and @AmerClefPalate and encourage our Wendy Watchers to learn more and help support the cleft community,” Williams said on Twitter.

Some of Williams’ fan base came out in support of the talk show host and urged people to move on.

“Honestly people, you wanted her to apologize she’s done that, you wanted her to make a charitable donation, she’s done that. Let it go! If you hate her show so much, don’t watch it and stay off her social media page. No need to keep insulting her, otherwise you’re no better,” wrote Rose @RosebushoBethel.