Zach Galifianakis has become a household name and one of the most beloved comedians in Hollywood. However, he had much humbler beginnings and lived a much different life to the one he currently does. Still, one woman has been a constant in his world.
Galifianakis moved to LA when he was beginning his career in comedy. He had plans to be a star, but as with all other stars, he had to start small and work his way up to his big break. The comedian did this by working odd jobs and doing stand-up gigs.
The gigs he frequented were in the back of burger joints where he could show off his talent before landing any significant roles, such as that of Alan, his character in the “The Hangover” franchise. While meeting Hollywood directors was important, Galifianakis made other important friends along the way.
While his gigs changed his life for the better, the woman that kept him company during those years was someone he met in the most unlikely place. It turned out that the pair would become a formidable team in years to come.
It was 1994 when Galifianakis met a woman that would significantly impact his life in the years to come. When she met Galifianakis, Marie “Mimi” Haist was volunteering in a laundromat, surviving off tips left by customers.
The “The Hangover” star frequented Fox Laundry — where Haist was volunteering — because he lived right around the corner from the laundromat. While their first meeting was over 20 years ago, the pair maintained a strong bond.
Although Haist had been married earlier in her life, when she met Galifianakis, she had been alone for quite some time. After she got divorced, she lived on the streets and began looking for a place to work or sleep. She found both of those things in one place.
Haist began working at the laundromat, where her boss allowed her to live for almost 20 years. Haist revealed that she would sleep between the washing and drying machines so customers couldn’t see her.
After Haist and Galifianakis met and struck up a friendship, Galifianakis found out that Haist was living at the laundromat and told her that he would find her a place to live comfortably. Although Galifianakis was not yet successful, he found and paid for an apartment for Haist.
Later, Galifianakis introduced Haist to Reneé Zellwegger, who helped Haist furnish her apartment. While Haist was unaware of who Galifianakis was, she immediately recognized Zellwegger and was excited to meet her.
While Galifianakis has made an impact on Haist’s life, she had somebody else to thank as well. Haist extended her gratitude toward Zellwegger and Galifianakis for all they had done by saying:
“I really appreciate Zach and Renée for [everything they’ve done], I have a place to live now and my own bed. I now get my social security, so it helps me pay [for food] and my phone bill.”
RED CARPET TREATMENT
Meeting Haist impacted Galifianakis, but Haist’s life was forever changed after she met the budding star. By the time Galifianakis had his breakthrough role in “The Hangover” in 2009, the pair had built a strong bond.
This bond brought new opportunities for Haist to experience the finer things in life. Whenever Galifianakis had a film premiere or other Hollywood events that he didn’t have anyone to take to, he would ask Haist to be his date.
Even though Galifianakis has been in the public eye for such a long time, he still has not become used to Hollywood events, but says Haist handles them well. Galifianakis said that he enjoyed taking Haist on the red carpet, sharing:
“I like to see her in that atmosphere. Somehow she fits in in a very strange way.”
Haist explained her thoughts on the red carpet treatment she has experienced since meeting Galifianakis, saying, “If he’s in town, he takes me … I dress up nice, and a friend helps me with my makeup. It’s fun, not something I’ve ever dreamed I’d experience. The limo takes me home afterward.”
While it is fun for Haist to be at the events, she is not the only one who is happy to be there. Galifianakis said that although he doesn’t enjoy red carpets, Haist makes it better, saying that he feels better when Haist is with him on the red carpet.
Being in the glow of Galifianakis’ spotlight cast some of the glow onto Haist as well. In 2016, a documentary was made about Haist called “Queen Mimi.” Yaniv Rokah, director of the documentary, said that he was intrigued by Haist’s story and wanted to make a movie about it.
He spoke about the process of meeting Haist and deciding to find out what her life was about by saying:
“I wanted to know who is she, why is she there, what is the story?”
Once the film premiered, Haist became recognizable to the customers in the laundromat, who told her that she was a star. However, Haist went about her business as usual, with only a few breaks from the ordinary when she was on the red carpet with Galifianakis.
Even after becoming a well-known name in and around Hollywood, she still cleaned the dryers at the laundromat because she believed that nobody else could do the job as well as she could.
Despite having a difficult life, Haist never considered herself to be homeless. She said that she never allowed herself to become mixed up with the wrong crowd and didn’t allow herself to become depressed about anything.
Haist revealed that when her friends came to see her, they would tell her that she was famous, although she did not think this was the case and she was just living her life. Unfortunately, Haist passed away in late 2021, but her memory lives on in her documentary.