Zach Galifianakis is well-known and loved as one of Hollywood’s best comedians. But he came from a very different background and lived a very different life than he does now. Still, one woman has always been there for him.
Galifianakis moved to Los Angeles when he was just starting out as a comedian. He wanted to be famous, but like all-stars, he had to start small and work his way up before he got his big break. The comedian did this by working odd jobs and doing stand-up shows.
He often worked in the back of burger joints, where he could show off his skills before getting big roles like Alan in “The Hangover” movies. Even though it was important for Galifianakis to meet Hollywood directors, he also made other important friends along the way.
Even though his gigs made his life better, he met the woman who spent those years with him in the most unlikely place. It turned out that the two would make a strong team over the years.
Galifianakis met a woman in 1994 who would change his life in a big way in the years to come. When she met Galifianakis, Marie “Mimi” Haist was working as a volunteer in a laundromat and living off the tips customers gave her.
The star of “The Hangover,” who lived right around the corner from Fox Laundry, where Haist was volunteering, went there often. Even though they hadn’t seen each other in over 20 years, they stayed close.
Even though Haist had been married before, she had been single for a long time when she met Galifianakis. She lived on the streets and looked for a place to work or sleep after she and her husband broke up. She found them both in the same place.
Haist started working at a laundromat, and her boss let her live there for nearly 20 years. Haist said that she would sleep between the washing and drying machines so that customers wouldn’t see her.
After Haist and Galifianakis met and became friends, Galifianakis found out that Haist was living in a laundromat and told her that he would find her a nice place to live. Galifianakis had not yet made a lot of money, but he found and paid for an apartment for Haist.
Later, Galifianakis put Haist in touch with Reneé Zellwegger, who helped Haist get her apartment ready. Haist didn’t know who Galifianakis was, but she knew Zellwegger right away and was excited to meet her.
Galifianakis has changed Haist’s life, but she also has someone else to thank. Haist told Zellwegger and Galifianakis how grateful she was for everything they had done:
“I really appreciate everything that Zach and Renée have done for me. I now have a place to live and my own bed. Now that I get social security, it helps me pay for things like food and my phone bill.”
Galifianakis was affected by meeting Haist, but Haist’s life was changed forever when she met the rising star. By the time Galifianakis got his big break in “The Hangover” in 2009, they had become close.
This relationship gave Haist new opportunities to enjoy the finer things in life. When Galifianakis didn’t have anyone to go with to a movie premiere or other Hollywood event, he would ask Haist to be his date.
Even though Galifianakis has been famous for a long time, he is still not used to Hollywood events, but he says that Haist does a good job with them. Galifianakis said it was fun to take Haist with him to the red carpet.
“I like seeing her in that kind of setting. She fits in, but only in a very strange way.”
Haist talked about how she feels about being treated like a celebrity since she met Galifianakis, saying, “When he is in town, he takes me… I put on nice clothes, and a friend helps me put on my makeup. It’s fun, and it’s not something I ever thought I’d do. After that, I go home in a limo.”
Haist enjoys being at the events, but she isn’t the only one who is glad to be there. Galifianakis said that he doesn’t like red carpets, but he feels better when Haist is with him.
Being in Galifianakis’s spotlight made some of that light shine on Haist, too. In 2016, a movie called “Queen Mimi” was made about Haist. The documentary’s director, Yaniv Rokah, said he was interested in Haist’s story and wanted to turn it into a movie.
He talked about how he met Haist and decided to learn more about her life by saying:
“I wanted to know who she was, why she was there, and what happened.”
Once the movie came out, people at the laundromat recognized Haist and told her that she was a star. But Haist went about her business as usual. When she was on the red carpet with Galifianakis, there were only a few small changes.
Even though she was well-known in and around Hollywood, she still cleaned the dryers at the laundromat because she thought no one else could do the job as well as she could.
Even though Haist’s life was quite hard, she never thought of herself as homeless. She said that she never let herself get involved with the wrong people and that she never let anything make her sad.
Haist said that when her friends came to see her, they would tell her that she was famous, even though she didn’t think this was true and was just living her life. Haist passed away too soon in late 2021, but her documentary will keep her memory alive.