Thursday, November 19, 2009

Remember MIMI?

If you’re a baby boomer (and a guy) you probably remember one of our all time favorite magazines – Mechanix Illustrated. (Provided your memory hasn't failed you yet.)

If you're interested in MI in general, there’s another post in this blog from a while back that featured an article about our favorite auto guru, Tom McCahill. You can find it HERE if you’re interested in reading about Uncle Tom.

But today, we’re going to talk about the more photogenic stars that graced those pages. Yep, you guessed it, I’m talking about our favorite gal — MIMI! (And you'll understand why "stars" is plural in that sentence if you keep reading. Wait for it.)

Each month we looked forward to seeing that shapely young woman dressed in her skimpy overalls with the vertical stripes and high heels. And in the early sixties, she sported another wardrobe accoutrement: a matching railroad engineer's cap. But that was later discontinued.

She was usually pictured either holding, standing beside, sitting on, laying on, or just in the photo with a new product each month. But who was she? Who was this gorgeous girl-of-our-teenage-dreams model?

Actually, "Mimi" was not one person, but many. Each "Mimi" held the job for a year. Their names were never revealed except for the announcement of a new "Mimi" in each January issue. One Mimi did, however, hold the job for a few years in the sixties. An actress from Southern California, she left to live in Hawaii, and a readers' poll was conducted to choose a replacement from a short list. The readers' choice only lasted a short while, and was replaced by one of the runners-up.

So that brings us to the end with a haunting question. Who were these beautiful women? What happened to them? How many are still with us? If you were a MIMI, let us know. We'd love to do another post on here with a MIMI FOUND title. Maybe it was your mother, or your grandmother. If you fall into that category, or can provide any updated info, please leave a comment and we'll put a revised post together.


KC Tom said...

MI was part of the mechanics-themed magazine triumvirate in our home throughout my childhood and well into my teen years: MI, Pop Mech, and Pop Sci. (We also had a passel of farm mags, but my brothers and I generally considered them less interesting.) How many dreams and fantasies those magazines held, and I'm not talking about Mimi, who I was really too young to appreciate before she went away for good. No, the dreams and fantasies I'm talking about were futuristic cars, interesting RVs and flying machines, all-terrain vehicles, underwater "scuba tow" machines you could build, exciting new electronics products, and clever inventions in general.

I hope some aging Mimi, or her offspring or ex-husband, stops by here to chat. No, the one in the photo doesn't really look like my type, but I am curious what happened to that "Perma Spare" bolt-on tire she's holding, which was "expected to replace the conventional spare wheel." I would indeed "flip over its space-saving convenience," but perhaps dark forces in the inflatable-tire cartel saw the threat to sales, made Firestone shut the program down, and shipped Mimi off to an undisclosed offshore location where she would spend the rest of her days in isolation, never speaking to the press and revealing her secrets to anyone.

Michael said...

Wow! What a great comment, KC Tom. MIMI is only the tip of the iceberg (is that a pun?) when it comes to MI-related subject matter. One of my favorite sections was the "Inventions Wanted" page every month. I have a ton of old issues from the fifties and sixties, and I browse them every so often. I'm thinking I've seen some of those "wanted" inventions actually in existence today.

Thanks for your interesting insights.

Anonymous said...

My favorite MIMI and the longest lived one was a young lady named Charlene James. She apparently was a photographer's model who posed nude for some mens magazines in the 1950s and 1960s. She also was an actress who appeared in a minor role in the old Yancy Derringer TV series back in the day. She was a beautiful girl and a favorite reason for my buying the Mechanix Illustrated magazine in my youth. I have located some pix of her in her modeling days but haven't found any personal information about her. She did pose for Peter Gowland and appeared in at least one of his photography "How To" books.