Comedian Zach Galifianakis' friendship with Elizabeth Haist goes back more than two decades and he still keeps in touch.
Elizabeth Haist, affectionately called Mimi, never pictured herself walking the red carpet at the premiere of a blockbuster movie, let alone arriving in a limousine. The elderly woman was homeless and struggling to make ends meet but her friendship with a then-unknown comedian would change her life for the better. Comedian Zach Galifianakis rescued the laundrywoman from homelessness, set her up in an apartment, and paid her rent and utilities. He then took her to the premiere of "The Hangover Part II" in a limousine. It's the kind of scene you'd expect in the 'Hangover franchise' where Zach's character Alan brings along a stranger to a hangout with friends. Zach Galifianakis' generosity stems from his close relationship with Haist, stretching almost two decades, according to NY Daily News.
He first met her in 1994 when he was an upcoming comic trying to make ends meet and she was working at a laundromat, living mostly off tips. He was living in an apartment near Fox Laundry where she worked. They shared a close bond over the years and he eventually starred in Hangover, his breakout role as a movie star. He had moved out and stopped visiting Fox Laundry. "Maybe he has his own washer and dryer now," thought Haist simply.
Later, he then learned that Haist had become homeless. He immediately contacted her and helped her move to a new home and pay her rent and utilities. Galifianakis then introduced Haist to Renee Zellweger, who furnished the elderly woman's apartment. He still stops by to take her often to lunches when he's in Los Angeles. Zellweger, who she describes as a "very sweet lady," also buys groceries for Haist. “I really love it. I have a place where I can sleep and arrange things, and it’s really heaven,” Mimi told PEOPLE. “I still go to the laundromat every day to keep busy and people come in and say, ‘Oh you’re a star!’” she adds. People have even started coming to the laundromat to ask for autographs.
He also took Haist to the premiere of his movie, 'The Campaign.' No one really knew who she was and it generated much press interest at the time. "All the fans were taking photos and I waved at them, I said, 'They don't know who I am!'" said Haist of her first premiere experience. She has now got a taste for it. "I'm looking forward to it, I like the excitement of it," she said at the time. The actor picked her up in a limo from the doorstep of her Santa Monica apartment before taking her to the premiere. It's an experience that Haist loves."If he's in town, he takes me. Otherwise, he lets me take a friend. 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," said Haist.
When asked if she has been mistaken for Galifianakis' grandmother, Haist jokingly says she's been mistaken for his girlfriend. She also attended the after-party as well, meeting up with Hollywood superstars. "Afterwards, they have a party somewhere close by and you meet the stars. I drink lemon drop martinis with Grey Goose vodka," she said. It isn't just Galifianakis who's friends with Haist. She's something of a mini-celebrity simply from her association with big names. Amateur Israeli filmmaker Yaniv Rokah even shot a film on her titled "Queen Mimi." Rokah said that those who had been around the area knew her as the “Queen of Montana.”
“I remember thinking, ‘Who is this older woman who’s working at a laundromat seven days a week? And why does she seem so happy all the time?’” he said. “Here I am struggling to make it in Hollywood, working at a coffee shop, and across the street, there’s this ball of fire, like a pink-wearing, singing, dancing diva who turns out to be homeless.”