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You’ll remember her face if you don’t remember her name. For nine long years, Mimi Bobeck (played by Kathy Kinney) inflicted no end of torment as Drew’s clownlike, cackling nemesis on The Drew Carey Show. The series ended years ago, yet there was a time you couldn’t turn on TNT or TBS in the afternoon without hearing Mimi’s loud voice (or see her big blue eyeshadow, emphasized to the point of total parody). Where has Kinney been in the years since The Drew Carey Show said goodbye? How are things going in her life after Mimi?
Queen of her own life—and yours
Since leaving behind The Drew Carey Show, Kinney has built up her own lifestyle brand for, as she puts it, women between 40 and death. It’s a pretty big range for a target audience, but casting a wide net has let her build up quite the fan-base. Along with her best friend, former marketing executive Cindy Ratzlaff, she started Queen of Your Own Life, a blog and Facebook community of daily inspirations and reflections. The Facebook page alone has over 337 thousand likes and counting, proving that in real life, Kinney’s about as far away from Mimi Bobeck as can be.
"We have so many women following us," Kinney said, talking about the web community in a February, 2013 appearance on Harvesting Happiness Talk Radio. "It’s a thrilling, wonderful way for us to start the day by going there and saying howdy-do."
Mrs. P’s Magic Library
Mimi Bobeck may have been the queen of mean, but Kinney’s more than capable of playing a motherly sweetheart. Along with former Drew Carey Show producer Clay Graham, whom she partnered up with in 2008, she launched Mrs. P’s Magic Library, an online home for classic children’s stories brought to life by Kinney’s character, Mrs. P.
A valuable resource for teachers and parents, the website was launched with the intention of showing young children the joy of reading. According to Kinney, it’s a labor of love.
"We spend all our own money on it," she said, speaking in an interview with her hometown’s local news. "We’ve never had any advertising and we probably never will. We just really wanted to be able to give back some of the joy that we’d had of reading when we were children."
Her stories have found a receptive audience, too — the Los Angeles Times called Mrs. P’s programming "a welcome departure from almost any other video entertainment available to kids." The website hosts contests, works with schools, and features more than a dozen classic stories to stream, read in-character by Kinney.
The price is not quite right
While Drew Carey left behind his self-titled show for greener pastures when he joined The Price is Right in 2007, he didn’t quite escape the clutches of Mimi Bobeck. For April Fools’ Day in 2009 and 2010, Kinney showed up in full character as Mimi to raves from the studio audience, looking like she hadn’t aged a day. For her 2010 appearance, Drew’s nemesis showed up on the CBS game show as the series’ new executive producer, television royalty in a cheetah print chair.
"CBS hired me to be the executive producer and I’m gonna whip this place into shape," she said. She spent the rest of the episode lingering in the back of the set, getting involved with the games and serving as Drew’s tormentor. Of course, she couldn’t get up to too much disruption. People come to The Price is Right for a payday; not even Mimi’s able to get in the way of that.
Acting in a lower key
Since the end of The Drew Carey Show, the former Mimi Bobeck largely left show business behind, though she has turned up for smaller parts in a handful of projects over the years. Most recently, she appeared on a season 5 episode of the ABC Family sitcom Baby Daddy.
Prior to that job, she had a recurring role on the network’s Shailene Woodley-starring Secret Life of the American Teenager, appearing in 33 episodes of the series as the butcher shop manager, Bunny. She also appeared in a fun cameo on My Name is Earl, playing a cop on Cops who shows up at Earl’s house to investigate a domestic disturbance. Off-camera, she’s provided her voice to two episodes of The Penguins of Madagascar, playing an obnoxious and flatulent walrus named Rhonda.
Improv with Drew Carey and Friends
Like just about everyone else who’s ended up in Drew Carey’s orbit, Kinney’s also spent time in his stable of performers doing Whose Line is it Anyway?-style improv comedy. The show, which Drew hosted in the late ’90s and early aughts, pitted quick-witted comedians and actors together in fast-paced games of improvised humor. After Drew left the series, he took the act to Vegas, where Kinney joined his revolving troupe for several live performances, televised shows, and DVD appearances. As for Kinney, she’s not an improviser by nature, but she was definitely eager to shake off the Mimi persona and show the world her range. And though she’s not shy about the fact that she could’ve, in her own words, "played Mimi until the day I died," it’s great to see her spread her wings and reach beyond her most iconic role. "My God, it’s so much fun," she’s enthused. "So much fun."
A true showbiz family
Back in 2009, Kinney told The Las Vegas Sun that when she gets back together with her old TV buddies, it’s generally in the form of a quasi-revival of both the sitcom and Carey’s subsequent improv show, Whose Line Is It Anyway? "When other people have their family reunion they have hot dogs and beans and picnic stuff but we perform in Las Vegas," she said.
Fast forward almost a decade, and it would seem that time hasn’t dampened the affection this comedic crew has for one another. Asked by WSAW-TV 7 whether they all still keep in touch, Kinney said, "I do, we all live fairly close together. Of course, we’ve moved on with our lives, but we see each other maybe once or twice a year … it’s like a family reunion." We just want to know: Do they start the whole thing off with a big musical number? Because that we’d still like to see.
Books, books galore
After The Drew Carey Show, Kinney put down the contour brush and picked up the pen. Taking her Queen of Your Own Life brand off the internet and into memoir form, Kinney’s authored several books covering the same sort of inspirational material as her website, often co-authored with Cindy Ratzlaff. Some of these books include Queen of Your Own Life: The Grown-Up Woman’s Guide to Claiming Happiness and Getting the Life You Deserve and Queenisms: 101 Jolts of Inspiration. By all appearances, she’s carved out a little cottage industry by trying to make readers feel a little bit better about their lives. How’s that for the power of positive thinking?
Mimi’s into merch now
Kinney and Ratzlaff’s blog and Facebook page eventually developed such a following that they branched out into quote-a-day calendars that combined "vintage images with short motivational messages" which are "designed to encourage you on the journey to self-discovery." The calendars are also marketed under the Queen of Your Own Life brand, which was apparently the first step in a full-blown merchandise campaign.
In February 2018, Kinney and Ratzlaff announced the Queen of Your Own Life Store. Under the banner, "Lovely gifts for you or a friend," the self-proclaimed motivational royalty are now selling mugs, t-shirts, hoodies, nightgowns, note cards, and more, all adorned with the QOYOL logo. Which means finally — for the low price of $10.99 — you can use this pint glass to really set the tone at the dinner table should certain other non-Queen family members decide to complain about the meal.
Home to help out
Though she lives in California now, Kinney hasn’t forgotten where she comes from. The actress still make her way back to her hometown of Stevens Point, Wisconsin every year or so, usually for charitable reasons.
"I think I’m back pretty much once a year, doing some work with the United Way, which I really enjoy," Kinney said in an interview with Stevens Point’s local CBS affiliate. "If I’m free and people invite me to come back and do something for charity, I’m there."
In one charitable event she put on for the organization, Kinney brought Mrs. P to Stevens Point for a free live show, with complimentary books being given out to every child who attended. Not the most expected gesture from the office’s meanest tyrant.