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Will Smith hits Chris Rock on Oscars stage

IWill Smith slapped Chris Rock in the face on stage at the Oscars after the comic made a joke about the actor's wife Jada Pinkett Smith.

Will Smith stormed the Oscars stage and struck comedian Chris Rock across the face for joking about his wife

Rock, presenting the best documentary prize with a short comedy routine, had cracked a joke comparing Jada Pinkett Smith's tightly cropped hair to Demi Moore's appearance in the film "G.I. Jane" and suggesting she appear in a sequel

In a moment that triggered awkward silence and confusion in the Dolby Theatre, Smith strode up to Rock and slapped him, before returning to his seat alongside Jada and shouting profanities..

Keep my wife's name out of your f*****g mouth," yelled Smith, forcing the producers to bleep out several seconds of audio from the televised broadcast in the United States

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Rock responded: "Oh, wow." For viewers at home, censors muted the verbal part of the exchange between Rock and Smith. The theater went silent and Rock said, "That was the greatest night in the history of television." CNN has reached out to Smith's publicist for comment.

Sean "Diddy" Combs took to the stage moments later and told Smith and Rock that they would settle things "like family" later.

Lafter the incident, Smith returned to the stage to accept the Oscar for best actor and apologized to the Academy and his fellow nominees for the incident, but did not mention Rock by name.