Homeless woman who slept in a laundromat for 25 years made people believe she was childless when in fact she was a mother of 2

By Nina Steele 

Queen MimiMimi (Full name Marie Haist) became homeless after her marriage broke down in 1976. By then, she had been married for 29 years. Because her husband was the sole breadwinner during their marriage, she had nothing to her name after they divorced. With not much in terms of work experience (her husband made her quit her job when they got married), she was unable to find work. She first slept in her car for many years and then, as she was unable to pay for its upkeep, the car was taken away.

She came across the laundromat while wandering the streets of Santa Monica where she was now living. At first, she used it to wash her clothes like all the other customers. Then, gradually, the staff noticed that she was coming in every day. One night, as it was raining heavily, the staff member in charge of locking up, took pity on her and with the permission of the owner, allowed her to spend the night within the premises. That one night turned into 25 years!

Since she was a constant presence in the laundromat, the owner decided to allow her to make a living by making her a member of staff. However, unlike the other staff members, she was allowed to keep whatever money she made. Helped no doubt by the fact that she was an old woman. She was born in 1925.

She became a bit of a celebrity in the neighbourhood, with some people paying her more to wash their clothes than they would regular staff members. This being LA, she was soon being invited to red carpet events where she met A list celebrities such as Renée Zellweger.

Her status as a celebrity was confirmed when her life story was turned into a documentary entitled “Queen Mimi”, now showing on Netflix. To the surprise of all the people who have known her all those years, Mimi has been keeping a secret from them. It turns out that she is not childless as she has made people believe. She is in fact a mother of two daughters. She became estranged from them after her divorce.

As she was probed on the reasons why she hadn’t told anyone she had children, it became clear that she had become so used to being by herself that she no longer felt she was missing out by not having her daughters in her life, one of whom we learned, passed away. She kept reminding the film maker that very few people knew she had children and that she wanted to keep it that way.

That she had become a much loved member of the community was confirmed when Zach Galifianakis, an actor she has known since her early days at the laundromat, got her an apartment. After almost 40 years of being a person of no fixed abode, she now had a place she could call home. She also eventually agrees to meet with her surviving daughter. She does so grudgingly, as she quite enjoys the new life she has made for herself and does not like anything that reminds her of her past life as a wife and mother. What a story!

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